The Twin Sisters of Doom

Before I begin…

Yes, I’m back! Sorry for the wait on posts, I managed to acquire another bout of ill health which stole 6 weeks from me over the festive period. So since January I have been playing catch-up on everything!

Anyway, I am now back in full flow and hot from the Marketing Summit where I gave a kick-ass presentation on some very cool yet simple psychology and language stuff… What follows is a taster of that presentation – ENJOY!

Trying to succeed?

“I’ll try and get that done”, “Great idea but…”, “I hope so…”


Language is a fascinating thing. It has the power to move people to succeed in their endeavours, inspire millions to strive for something better and create powerful change in a matter of moments.

It also has the potential to disarm, disempower and guarantee failure.

Ironically, the latter is often unexpected, and worse, self-inflicted.

Read or listen to the words of inspirational greats such as Ghandi, Luther King and Churchill and you will hear a resolute turn of phrase with an unflinching drive and purpose. Each word builds upon the last, creating confidence and passion, compelling the listener to act, to achieve, to succeed.

The success of such speakers cannot be argued, neither can it be said that each did not create powerful change in the minds of others.

Fortunately, you do not need to be a wordsmith of such great standing in order to inspire achievement; in fact you could choose to change only one or two words and hence avoid unwitting sabotage of what otherwise is your plan for success.

Many people set their mind on wonderful goals, perhaps even describe an impassioned depiction of a future state of success, and then immediately trip themselves up with a lame and inappropriate description of the ongoing activity.

Consider the ‘twin sisters of doom’ – the words ‘try’ and ‘hope’…

  • “I’ll try and make it work”
  • “I hope to get it done”

Hope is a wonderful thing when characterised as a will to succeed, however when used in a similar way to the word ‘try’, both words detract from the ongoing activity and introduce an alternative focus …because they hold an inherent suggestion of failure.

You need only add the “hairy but” and you will have drained every last drop of success from your quest!

The “hairy but”

‘But’ is an incredible word which in only three letters completely negates everything that precedes it. It has an intrinsic logic that entirely changes the comprehension of any utterance, it is as if those three letters actually say ‘I didn’t really mean what I just said, what I’m really thinking is this…’

Now when you bring together ‘but’, ‘try’ and ‘hope’, it is easy to realise how people often talk themselves into failure. Of course the real challenge is that such words are part of natural speech, for some it is even a cultural norm to temper communication and unwittingly march toward defeat…

So let’s make a simple change for the better.

Consider again what it is you want to achieve and steal success from the jaws of defeat by changing those words and creating a compelling message for yourself and others.

Gone are the days of the ‘but’ – No longer is it what you will ‘try to achieve’; instead it is what you are GOING TO ACHIEVE!

Don’t try – DO!

Don’t hope – DO!

Of course, communication is not just about what you say to yourself.

Consider carefully what it is you are saying to others, like the employee who you wish to inspire to succeed by strangely asking him/her to ‘try and do it’, or the customer who you are supposedly helping by saying ‘I understand, but…’. Clearly, this also needs to change for the better.

Switch now to the language of achievement, banish the ‘but’ and disown the ‘twin sisters’, and in turn you will help yourself and others succeed.

Language has shaped your future …and always will

To conclude, let us once again recall the words of those inspirational greats and contemplate the alternative history that could so easily have been reality had their words been different…

  • Do you think we would have gone to the moon if JFK had said ‘We will try to go to the moon in this decade…’?
  • Would the civil rights movement of Luther King had as much success if he had said ‘I have a dream, but…’?
  • Would Britain be the same place had Churchill said, ‘We will try and fight them on the beaches, we hope to defend our island…’?

There is clearly so much more to say on such an important subject, including the use of language to create positive change, the art of persuasion and influence, and the essence of effective communication. We’ll save those for another time …or product 😉

For now, simply remember your words can create either success or failure and it is your choice that determines this for yourself and others…

And of course, tell me what you are thinking below… 🙂