The poison of “yea, but”

Have you ever wanted something and then talked yourself out of it by using a “yea, but” phrase? It goes a little something like this:

“I would like a raise.”

Yea, but they probably won’t give it to me because I’ve only worked here a year.”

– or –

“I want to learn how to play the piano.”

Yea, but that’s a lot of practice time and I’m too old to learn something new.”

Why do we countermand our own goals? My assumption is this self-critic tactic is a way to avoid failure. If we immediately invalidate our ability to accomplish the goal, then we can avoid failure by never even trying. What’s worse than the fear of failure? Actual failure?

I disagree.

What’s worse than the fear of failure? Never knowing if you could have succeeded.

I learned a great trick from Martha Beck, the author of “Steering by Starlight” when it comes to tackling our “Yea, but” statements (she brilliantly labeled them “Stuck Statements”).

First you need to identify your Stuck Statement:

I see myself helping others achieve their professional goals, but I haven’t yet achieved my own so I can’t.

See the but in there? Well, as long as you’re sitting on that but(t), you can’t move forward. Martha says “Yea, but” statements are like mental cockroaches who can multiply and survive the most intense attempt at dismantling them. How’s that for motivation to stop thinking these thoughts?

Our mind is meant to protect us and these “Yea, but” statements are our mind’s attempt to preserve the safety net built by avoiding failure. Sort of like nature’s way of protecting a chameleon by allowing it to blend in with its surroundings. Stay in the safe zone, don’t be noticed by others, and you can protect yourself from danger. Trouble is: you are shielding yourself from greatness.

Now that you have your stuck statement, let’s add a stopper between your goal and the stalemate to help identify the fear behind the “Yea, but” so we can work to dismantle it. The template sounds a little awkward by itself but when applied to a specific scenario, it flows nicely.

“I am choosing not to have X because I believe Y is a problem. My true nature can have X because it knows Y is not the problem, my beliefs are.”

What does this look like for my “Yea, but” statement:

I am choosing not to help others achieve their professional goals because I believe I haven’t yet achieved my own. My true nature can help others achieve their goals but it is my belief that I have to have it all figured out in order for others to trust I can help them do the same.

It’s such a simple adjustment in our words and thoughts that help us recognize that our goals are not too big or too grand or too soon – it is just the fear of failure that makes us believe that. By identifying the roadblock fear, we can work to remove it from our path to accomplish our goals and become the version of ourselves we see in our dreams!

Published by Empower-Lead

Hello! My name is Karen. I am a mother, a wife, and a Vice President at a strategic consultancy in the non-profit technology space. I desire to seek change in both my personal and professional worlds through empowering positive leadership. I will share my experiences here and look forward to hearing how you empower positive leadership in your life! Personal: My husband, Kyle, and I live in Denver, CO with our two wonderful little girls and black Labrador, Riley. We spend as much time as possible outdoors either hiking, camping, off-roading or enjoying the city of Denver and mountain towns of Colorado. We moved here in 2016 after spending a decade at the beach on the east coast. If we are not in Colorado, we are jet-setting around the U.S. visiting friends and family. Pre-kids, that jet-setting included South America and Europe which we hope to begin again soon! Professional: I have spent the last decade in the non-profit space offering technical leadership guidance and analytical expertise to assist nonprofit organizations achieve maximum impact and efficiency from their technology solutions. What does this mean? I work with senior leadership teams to develop and execute strategic plans that align technology investments and IT services with the needs of national, international and regional offices. What does it really mean? I use both soft skills and analytical skills to assess needs and issues, define business processes, and lead teams in delivering value-driven technology solutions that strengthen the effectiveness of campaigns and operations. Ok, one final try: I work with a bunch of really smart people to help other smart people be better at their jobs by using technology more efficiently and effectively. I do all this for non-profits.

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