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Change the Way You Speak to Shift Your Mindset and Unlock Your Potential

Eliminating or reducing the use of just a few key words and phrases, and substituting better ones, can have an enormous impact on yourself, your staff and your bottom line.

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In my training sessions, I teach people to be successful, specifically through the use of digital marketing. I give them all kinds of techniques and strategies to make their businesses grow. My students report that they're thrilled to have these tools, yet get even more results by applying my training on mindset.

Why? Because you can have the most brilliant success tools ever created, but won't be able to apply them if your mindset is weak or negative. And words you use have a great impact on that mindset: They affect your thoughts, which influence emotions, which in turn effect actions and energy. And in the end, actions and energy generate final results, good or bad.

I've found that a few word hacks can help.

"Have to" as opposed to "get to"

When you say you "have to" do something, it's as if you're being coerced — like a burden that drains energy. But when you use the phrase "get to," a task becomes a privilege, and you feel excited and fortunate that you get to do whatever it is. Try it for yourself for a few days. You might practice in your approach to some small jobs like, "I get to take out the trash" or "I get to do dishes." Notice the difference in how you feel, then move to bigger issues like, "I get to find more financing for this project" or "I get to fire that employee who is not performing."

Related: It's All in Your Head: How to Shift Your Mindset for Serious Success

"Good!"

Tony Robbins tells a story about a Navy Seal commander who says "Good!" every time a subordinate shows up with a problem. "The wrong supplies showed up? Good! We'll demonstrate how creative we can be about workarounds." "Reinforcements didn't show up? Good! We'll get to hone our plan and be more strategic with resources." Whatever comes at him, he responds with "Good!" As he does that, his brain immediately focuses on finding what's beneficial in the situation and looks for solutions rather than getting bogged down in negativity.

"Genius!"

I know the head of a PR firm who always responds to good ideas with the word "Genius!" Think about how you feel when someone responds to your ideas with just "Good" or "That might work." Do you feel inspired, empowered, brilliant and eager to come up with more? Not really. But what if the reply was often "Genius!"? Much more motivational, right? Try it out with the people on your team.

"Opportunity" versus "challenge"

Years ago, people started substituting the word "challenge" for "problem," especially in business settings. This probably worked in the beginning, because a challenge sounds like something that heroes tackle, and so can be inspiring. However, over the years we've started redefining this word in our heads (and it's becoming something of a hot mess in the process), but what if we use "opportunity" instead? It's true that every bump in the road (or brick wall) you run into also has some kind of inherent opportunity, so if you call it that from the get-go, your brain will focus on finding out a way to capitalize on what's happening, not just handling fallout or patching things up. You'll feel enthusiastic rather than irritated or angry.

Related: Positive Thoughts + Positive Actions = Positive Results

More than just "fine"

The most common response I hear to "How are you?" is "I'm fine," but I've run into a couple of entrepreneurs lately who respond differently. One of them offers a ready "Fantastic!" — sounds like he just won the lottery no matter what's going on, and he says it with total sincerity. A friend described to me another exec who says, "I'm living the dream!" He always makes her laugh when he does so; it dependably brightens her day. Can you imagine the impact that has on his 85 employees?

"Help me understand"

When your team screws up, it's common to launch into something like, "Why the heck did you [fill in the blank]?!?" Typically, this sets up a blame game where everybody goes on the defensive and no one is focused on solutions or lessons to be learned. A skilled executive I know uses an alternative phrase: "Help me understand." She'll very calmly say something like, "Help me understand how this happened?" or "Help me understand why you chose to do this?" As a result, the other person feels respected and comfortable telling the truth about the situation: it makes people slip onto solution mode, not blame mode.

Words have power. They can set you and those around you up for success or failure. They can be motivational or devastating. So, use the power of your words wisely!

Related: Choose Your Story, Change Your Business

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