Some time back I ended up reading through Get Off Your “But” by Sean Stephenson.
If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Stephenson he essentially has “glass bones” disease, which since childhood (or birth) has made him extremely prone to bone fractures and incredible pain. He is in a wheelchair for life — but despite this, he ended up writing a “no excuses” kind of book with lots to think about.
Instead of me writing a book review or anything like that, I’m going to share a couple of his key points – because they are important enough that they require sharing.
Why we sit on our “BUTS”
Sean (if I may call him that) talks about a couple reasons people sit on their “BUTS” [excuses for not doing certain things]:
- They truly believe that their BUT is holding them back. They literally can’t move.
- Getting off their BUT is too big a risk. It’s easier to be in the unhappy state they’re used to than to take the chance to be happy.
- A mix of 1 and 2, plus they find it easier to keep the status quo than to see what would happen if they tried to change it.
“The thinking goes like this: you know that if you don’t study for the test, you are more than likely to fail it; yet if you study hard, you still aren’t guaranteed an A. Some people would rather stay stuck on their BUTS, addicted to the certainty of failure, than risk the possibility of disappointment.”
Again, from Sean:
“You know what? None of this is true. The sad truth is, the more you sit on your BUT, the weaker you get. If you never use your muscles, they eventually atrophy. The longer you stay frozen in that place of fear, excuses, or insecurity, the harder it becomes to get up off it. As long as you’re stuck on your BUT, you’ll never go after what you really want in life.”
Watching what you say to yourself
He then talks about becoming aware of the internal dialogue within your own head, as well as the words you say to others (and how they are strangely predictive of our own fate):
- Positive people use positive and uplifting words: “You look great!”
- Negative people choose negative and cynical words: “You’ll never get that job, why try?”
- People who feel victimized only use the vocabulary of victims. “I never get what I want.”
- People who are always sick talk only of their sickness: “I’m just not doing very well.”
- People who are extremely gracious speak only of their gratitude: “I’m so glad you were able to come today!”
Do these sound familiar? They are so insanely common that more than half of this list matches with wrote I wrote about earlier, regarding personality flaws to avoid if you want to succeed.
Sean then goes on to talk about an experience he had.
He went out for a stroll one day in the park just to get some fresh air and clear his mind. On the way he went by a family with a big beautiful house that stunned him. He thought to himself, “I’ll be happy when I get to live in a house that large.”
He continued down the path into the park and started feeling discouraged. Pretty soon, he heard a roaring sound coming up behind him that was immediately obvious to him: a Porsche. He goes on,”Just the thought of owning such a car brought me soaring–though temporary–elation… Then the driver sped off, taking my feelings of happiness along with the car.”
Once again, he continued down the path. Soon enough, a young girl went running by him that he described as “amnesia hot — so hot I couldn’t even remember my own name in her presence.” And again, he thought to himself, “I’ll be so happy when I’m dating a girl like that.”
This third distraction was his snap back to reality; he remarks:
“The time we are given here is fleeting. We think it’s going to last forever, but it’s not. We just never know when it’s going to be our turn to go. I couldn’t believe I’d wasted these precious life moments focusing on what I thought I was lacking!”
On taking full responsibility
As his closing chapter, Sean goes through his experience of passing a kidney stone which rendered him unconscious from the pain. Afterwards, he was reflecting on ownership of your own life, his take being pretty interesting:
“Until you own something, it owns you. It doesn’t matter if it’s an addiction, a fear, an excuse, or a thought. If you try to pass it off, deny it, or argue with its existence, it will continue to control your every move in life… The weakest people on the planet own nothing. I’m not talking about owning physical possessions; I’m talking about truly meaningful things: where they are in life, their physical health, the pain they’ve caused others… the direction in which their life is pointed. Until you own your life — the good and the bad– you’re like a beached fish flopping around on land: you can move all you want, but you’re not going anywhere.”
In one discussion with Sean’s mentor, Eben Pagan, Pagan said: “Learning doesn’t occur until a behavior has changed. As long as you know something intellectually but you have yet to put it into practice, you haven’t learned it at all.”
A killer reminder we all need:
Common sense isn’t common sense until it is common practice.
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Sean’s Book on Amazon:
Get Off Your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself