Talking to Your Lawnmower

Years ago I heard a guy on cassette –that’s right, back off. Anyway, he shared an illustration about people’s perspective of positive versus negative talk. 

He said, “Imagine walking by a neighbor one warm sunny day and hearing him cursing out his lawnmower because it wouldn’t start. He’d pull and pull and nothing. And you hear him say to his lawnmower, ‘You’re such a #&*! And a *&$#! I hate you!’ You smile, think, ‘Yeah, just like my worthless lawnmower’. It never occurs to you that he is cursing at his lawnmower!  And yet, if you walk down the same street, same neighbor, only this time the lawnmower starts immediately. And you hear him say, ‘You are such a wonderful lawnmower, always starting right away. You rock!’  You would think the guy is nuts!”

Why? Because negative is acceptable and negative sells.  It’s unfortunate we see it this way, but we generally do and it’s time to change.

Let’s take it a step further…what about positive and negative self-talk? Same thing. Every heard anyone say, “I’m so bad at remembering names”? Most people who hear that will quickly agree.  “Yeah, so am I!” Or maybe it’s more about handling money, or getting up on time, or winning a race – speaking poorly about ourselves in those areas is acceptable, maybe even politically correct. 

But let’s think about the winners around us. Those who are successful, at least in specific areas. How about Usain Bolt? Ever hear an interview with him say, “I don’t know if I can do this? The competition is so good.” I don’t think so.

How about Muhammad Ali? Didn’t he say something like, “I’m gonna knock him out in the 3rd round!”  People might consider that arrogant.  Funny thing is, perhaps he wasn’t talking to them; perhaps he was talking to himself!

Picture getting on the airplane and the captain over the intercom saying, “Listen, gang, I can’t guarantee your safety.  No one can, but I’ll do my best to get you there in one piece. Here we go.” Nope. I’m out. Give me this guy: “I’m the best at what I do, so rest assured you’ll arrive comfortably and safely.” Much better.

Or maybe the brain surgeon – “I’ll do my best, but no guarantees!”  No way! Give me the one who says, “I’ve trained all my life and no one is better. I will succeed and you will make it!” No one can guarantee that level of success, but on that surgery table, I want to hear it anyway!

Closed Mind/Closed Doors

(Contributed by Mitch Greene)

About a month ago I was invited to go outdoor boulder climbing, very early in the morning on a cold winter day. This is the sport I participate in, and I love it very much... when it's warm anyway. I agreed simply because I wanted to make my friend who invited me happy. I would soon regret that decision.

I left my house to pick up my friend when it was still dark out. It was about six in the morning and if you looked closely enough you could see the frost on the grass. It was 27 degrees out there and I was no longer happy about my decision.

It was about an hour drive out, followed by another hour hike bushwhacking in the mountains. I carried a heavy backpack on my front and a very large crash pad on my back. This was for the inevitable falling, or crashing part. I was uncomfortable, cold and very unhappy that I came. We spent nine hours in the freezing cold, climbing on rocks that felt more like ice cubes, and, by the time we were done, my fingertips were bleeding and my body was stiff and cold.

The odd thing about this story is that when I got home and looked back, I realized how much fun I actually had and how badly I wanted to do it again. I even called up my friend and told him to take me another time.

My expectation for the trip directed my initial attitude, and, therefore, influenced my negative mindset during the adventure - despite the sense of actually enjoying it when looking back.  If I had been more open-minded and optimistic up front, I would have actually had a great time during the experience.

What positive memories do we have now, that, maybe at the time, we didn't actually appreciate or even enjoy? If the memory is good, then why not the actual experience? Living in the future. Living in the past. Nah, how about living in the moment?

Next time I will choose to experience the moment with a better attitude! 

Anchored by Influence

A quick Google search on the success of New Year’s Resolutions, and you’ll find that upwards of 92% of them fail.  Well, the resolution does not actually fail; it can’t.  The person behind it fails to uphold it.  By choice.

Losing weight. Working out. Hitting sales or income goals. Writing a book. More time with family. Less time working. Learning to play the piano. Going to church. Just some examples of actions many people commit to each year in their resolutions and ultimately fail.  

Why such a high failure rate?

The challenge of resolutions, in my humble opinion, is that the owner of the goal has not changed their mindset, despite setting the goal.  They continue with the same habits that have put them in a place where they want to change – hence the goal – but when it comes to execution, they bring the same set of habits they had when they were not pursuing the goal.  The habits are driven by the mindset. If the mindset does not change, neither do the related actions.

In others words, we cannot consistently behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.  Beliefs drive behaviors.  While an exciting goal may drive temporary change through short-term motivation or simple novelty, it will not normally drive extended change. And extended change is required for accomplishing most of our meaningful goals and resolutions.

I believe change – good or bad – comes down to one keyword.  Influence. 

Not willpower. Not focus. Not drive. Not even motivation. All of these are fleeting.

Influence is not. Influence is the resulting impact of consistent experiences.

Take Alcoholics Anonymous as an example. I’m no expert, but clearly one of the great benefits of this program is regular meeting attendance and accountability. 


Influence requires consistency.  That’s the biggest factor. 

One of my greatest influencers to change is a longtime friend and mentor dating back to 1990. Being around this remarkable individual significantly impacted how I think – which is the biggest factor in dealing with change.  Another major influence has been, and continues to be, reading. Daily reading – 15 minutes minimum – about subjects that support my goals and priorities.

Interestingly, the reading habit was encouraged and, ultimately, influenced by my mentor. And it wasn’t because he told me; it was because he showed me. 

As much as I advocate group learning, especially if it’s reinforced, nothing beats the value of one to one mentoring, coaching or even just friendship.  The power of other’s influence in our lives is inescapable.

If you’ve set some new goals this year, requiring behavioral change and consistency, I suggest finding that person who can and will provide the influence to support the change you desire.

Choose wisely and purposefully.

A Good Reason

(By guest contributor, Mitch Greene)

Recently I was at my local rock climbing gym where a boy and his father were trying the sport for the first time. The young man looked to be around the age of fifteen, and he seemed very athletic.  But sadly, he just didn’t have the experience to climb to the top of the wall. He tried over and over but kept falling. His dad tried to help, yelling out what to grab onto and chanting inspirational quotes, but it just didn’t matter. Whatever the father said, the son’s response was the same: “I can’t! It’s too hard!” And down he went. I could see in the kid’s face that he desperately wanted to reach the top, but it was obvious that it wasn’t enough. Despite his dad’s motivational efforts, which were quite inspiring I should add, nothing seemed to bring success.

This encounter reminded me of a recent speech I heard by Eric Thomas. In classic motivational tone, Eric spoke about a boxing match that had taken place well before I was born. This was the infamous fight between Buster Douglas and Mike Tyson. Buster’s mother had died just before the fight, and she believed in her heart, and publically shared, that her son would win the fight. Her son would beat the great Mike Tyson. Her death, prior to the realization of the prophetic truth in her words, gave Buster the reason he needed to beat the most feared fighter in boxing history. He won that fight, as Eric Thomas profoundly expressed, because Buster needed to honor his mom’s words, especially in her death. That was Buster’s “why.”

Thomas declared that if your reason to do something is greater than the obstacles you face, nothing can stop you. If your reason is not greater than your challenge, you better find a better reason.

It’s all in your “why.” Is your “why” greater than your “how?” Why do you have a second job? Why are you training to run a marathon? Why did that young man want to get to the top of that climbing wall? Anything and everything you do has a reason.  If you can’t think of what that reason is, then why are you even doing it? If every day of work is just too hard, you obviously don’t have a good reason to be going. Start asking yourself “Why?” Every time you think “I can’t do it” or “it’s too hard” ask yourself why you’re doing it.

After I left the gym I wondered why he wanted to get to the top of the wall so bad. I think that he wanted to know what it felt like to do something that even he said he couldn’t do.

I didn’t stick around to find out. But, I’m guessing, either then or eventually, he’ll find his “Why” and then he’ll win.


A Better Version

“A year from today you’ll be one year older. The question I have for you is, ‘Will you be a better version of yourself?’”   This is the question a speaker asked the audience of a business conference many years ago.

She went on to challenge everyone – “Next year, same time: Will you be a better spouse? Will you be a better leader? Will you be a better owner or employee?  Will you be a better parent? Will you be in better health? Will you be a better person?”  

You get the picture.

It was and still is an excellent question. It challenges the fallback mentality of maintaining the status quo.  Staying the same.  Not possible.  If we are not deliberate in defining areas for growth, and goals for growth, we’ll likely fall into “coasting” mode – status quo.   And there is no coasting in life.  We’re either growing or dying, as a longtime friend often put it.

My wife and I were in attendance that day, and unbeknownst to the speaker, that question has continued to have a tremendous impact on my life. In many ways, it has been the driving factor behind our company’s mission – Building a better versionhelping individuals and teams build better versions of themselves to present to their families, workplaces, and communities.  

Let’s start with the person in the mirror. In what ways can you challenge that person to be better? Start now by thinking about what’s important. Define that better version – one year from now – and start the journey.

Imagine if we all did this. If we all chose to challenge ourselves to become better versions…imagine the impact on our workplace, on our community, on our lives.

As Andy Stanley states in his Your Move podcast tagline, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets.

A better version.