“I don’t want to sound negative,” says a colleague. (Before he says it, you know what’s coming.) “But I hate the way…” And of course, they then continue with a backward focus.

This is similar to the email that says: “I don’t usually forward these, but I couldn’t resist.” And sure enough, you open some sappy or comical or data-filled communication that takes your focus from the task at hand.

Or another favorite: “I know I shouldn’t eat this, but I worked hard today.”

Here’s the elephant in the office: “But”-heads are everywhere. These are the individuals who

  1. Articulate a standard or community value, and then
  2. Rationalize why they don’t have to live up to those expectations. The word ‘but” signals the end of accountability.


Without accountability progress is impossible. This means it’s time to end the but-head approach.

First, change begins with you. Take this challenge: wipe the word “but” from your language for one week. Watch how your willpower grows. Watch how people come to you with more diverse ideas – and how their respect for you grows. And watch how you begin to get more done.

Second, when you find someone being a but-head, help them return to their values. These are the words they uttered before “but” slipped out. Ask them a question, such as:

  • Why is it that you’re not usually negative?
  • Why do you prefer not to send those types of emails?
  • What do you normally eat?

There’s a lot at stake. If this elephant isn’t stomped we may someday hear, “I was going to be successful, but I became a but-head.”

Where will you lead – where will you stomp elephants – today?

Activate Your Greatness.

Activate Your Greatness.

Subscribe to receive these blog posts, select videos and more direct to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This