Are You a Winner or Whiner?

I've found that winners say "I choose to." Whiners, on the other hand, say "I have to."

Let me explain. On a plane, I mentioned to the executive next to me that I'm a professional development consultant and speaker. She smiled, gave me a knowing nod, and before the wheels were up revealed her "pain." She launched into telling me about her demanding and exhausting work responsibilities. She said things such as, "I have to leave home at 6:30 every morning to beat the traffic." "I have to go to Germany next month on business." "I have to attend a daily mini-meeting with the VP of Marketing." She prefaced all of her duties with "I have to."

I shook my head. "No wonder you feel over-stressed!" I exclaimed. "Your motor's running full speed but your parking break is on!" I recommended she release the brake. "You are a closeted whiner," I said. "Viewing your work as a series of burdens is holding you back. Empower yourself by changing your perspective. Quit using the victim phrase 'I have to." Replace it with 'I choose to,' 'I get to,' or by just stating the facts."

"For example, saying 'I choose to leave at 6:30 to avoid the traffic' means you are making a quality choice about making your commute easier. Saying 'I get to go to Germany' affirms your company's appreciation of your special skills -- plus you are fortunate to get to go on an adventure most people will never experience. Stating 'I meet daily with the VP of Marketing' clarifies your duties and signifies you are a key person whose observations and opinions are so valued the VP gives up part of her day to hear what you have to say. Making these phrase changes subconsciously signals you're in control of where your time and energy go. That makes you a winner not a whiner." She thought a moment, smiled broadly and said, "I feel the difference already. I'm going to quit saying 'I have to'."

To keep yourself in the winner's circle, it's smart to ditch the whiner phrase, "I have to," unless you want to signal the listener you're being forced to do something against your will. Victims say "I have to." Winners are smart to say "I choose to."

Doug Smart is the co-author of the book, "Sell Smarter." He is a sales consultant, professional speaker, and host of the daily motivational radio show, "Smarter by the Minute." For more information, email [email protected]. Copyright 2005 by Doug Smart

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