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I recently spent time in Nashville visiting my husband’s family. While I was brushing my hair one morning, I overheard my brother-in-law, Randy, saying that he’s hard on himself, and it sometimes keeps him from networking in the music industry in Nashville.

We are all very close and love each other dearly. We have different approaches to life and use each other’s strengths to think about what matters most. My direct manner reflects a liberated woman, raised in Los Angeles, which can be somewhat out of context in a southern environment, where being polite can rule over being direct. Nevertheless, their unconditional acceptance of me over 30 years is something I cherish.

So, thankfully, it was no surprise to Randy, when I walked in on the conversation waving my hairbrush, and said, “Be hard on yourself but do it anyway!” We all cracked up at the velocity of my statement.

It was at that moment I realized something about my own practice. I coach people to recognize their self-limiting stories and to stop telling them. Excuse-driven stories argue for limitations and replace action. But in that impulsive moment, I wondered if my brother-in-law could tell that limiting story and take action anyway, until the story naturally ran out of steam. He could actually use the story as energy to fuel something new. He could say, “I’m my own worst critic, BUT I going to perform my songs on Saturday night anyway.”

I think this is a wonderful way to use the big BUT!

It’s simple. Anytime you’re limiting yourself, add BUT at the end of your story, then insert an action that negates your story. That’s the power in the word BUT. It neutralizes what came before it! Continue this practice every time you make an excuse or statement that limits your range of actions.

Here is mine: I’m shy about marketing myself, BUT I’m speaking to groups, submitting articles to magazines, and contacting speakers’ bureaus.

When you negate your story with BUT you’re putting your limitation on notice that it’s not going to stop you. Instead you’re replacing it with action that makes a difference. Have fun catching yourself in the act of telling a limiting story, and use the big BUT to wake up to what’s possible.

I look forward to hearing how you use the big BUT and if it triumphs over any of your self-limiting stories.

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