The One Word That Will Make You Poor
February 25, 2015

The One Word That Will Make You Poor

by Brian de Haaff

Earlier this week, I wrote about The One Word That Will Make You Rich. Responding with “Done” to a question about your work delivers momentary joy to everyone who reads it. I love this word more than any other.

Apparently, you do too. I had no idea.

Nearly 600,000 of you read that post and almost 700 of you shared your thoughts. Reading your comments awoke me to something I completely missed. There is another short word that will impact your life in a powerful way. Instead of bringing riches, though, this word will keep you from them.

I should have known this, because I hear the word at home all the time. My kids blurt it out when I ask them to do something or why something went wrong. You probably hear it several times a day as well and do not even realize it. If you listen carefully, it is usually followed by an excuse.

Before I share this word, I want to tell you why it will make you poor. And by poor, I mean that it will keep you from achieving your goals — whether financial or not. This word halts your personal and professional growth and steals energy from those around you.

So, do you know the one word that will move you away from where you want to go? The one word that will make you poor is “But.”

It does not matter what comes after “But” — all that matters is that it is halting. It creates a barrier to progress. Saying “But”:

Creates conflict As soon as you use the word “But” when someone asks you a question, you create division. Even if it is not intended, this word causes the person you are interacting with to believe that their goals, principles or feelings are incompatible with, and threatening to, your own.

Damages your accountability When you use the word “But” you are shedding responsibility. And when you distance yourself from owning the outcome, those around you question whether you can get the job done. Next time you think about making an excuse, ask yourself if you are giving up too early and who is going to need to step in and clean up the mess.

Breaks your confidence Continuously telling yourself why you cannot do things will starve your self-esteem. Excuses do nothing positive for you or those who depend on you. They may allow you to vent a bit of frustration or anger at first. Later, though, you are left with failure. You did not accomplish what you wanted to or were asked to, and that poor performance breaks you down over time.

The best thing we can do as human beings is to almost always be open. Listen first and transition with “And.” Saying “But” halts you from the most positive interactions and accomplishments.

I want to acknowledge again that “poor” has many meanings. Many people are oppressed or live in environments that make it difficult to earn a meaningful wage. I want to be clear that I am using the word “poor” to highlight one’s ability to reach their potential.

Being your best self and treating others with dignity is possible nearly anywhere. “But” just gets in the way.

Do you agree that “But” will make you poor?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

Follow Aha!

Follow Brian

Related articles

The Best Cover Letters That CEOs Love to Read
April 13, 2017
The Best Cover Letters That CEOs Love to Read

A well-crafted cover letter is a great way to get noticed. Find out what to include in your cover letter to catch the attention of a CEO.

New Marketing Managers — Do These 8 Things in the First 30 Days
January 28, 2019
New Marketing Managers — Do These 8 Things in the First 30 Days

Are you a new marketing manager? Check out these suggestions from eight marketing experts on how to show your true value in your first 30 days.