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!