With a look of resignation and defeat, Tom uttered those pitiful words to me in early spring.
By summer, it had become a reality. His business had failed. He was down to his last few dollars and looking for work.
According to him, it had “been failing” for two years, since the economy made a turn for the worse.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Tom was speaking prophetic words. He was speaking future events into current reality.
Saying “my business is failing” is, in its essence, a prediction of future events. It is no different from saying, “I am going to eat.” That is a predictor of future behavior and activity. Hours later I “will have eaten.”
To suggest “my business is failing” is to declare that at some point in the future it “will have failed.”
“My marriage is failing” is no different than saying “I’m going to be divorced.”
“My child is failing math” tells me that the end result will have been an “F” in math.
If Tom were to tell me now what he told me then, I would respond much differently than I did then. Here is how the conversation might go today:
Tom: My business is failing.
Me: It is?
Tom: Yes. Our sales are down 70%. The bills are piling up. I had to lay off all but eight people last month and I can’t even make their payroll.
Me: The mere declaration that it “is failing” sounds to me like you have already given up. Failure is inevitable in your mind. It’s the only option. So you have two choices and neither involves delaying the inevitable. One, quit right now. If the ship is sinking, get off. Cut your losses. Two, stop prophesying that it is failing and re-build your business.
Tom: C’mon. This pop-psychology stuff isn’t going to work with me, Matt. I mean I can’t even pay…
Me: Listen. I’m not suggesting you look at this through rose-colored glasses. You have a current reality that is not what you want. But the future is yet to be determined. I am telling you the first step…the very first thing you must do that will determine all of your future success…is to stop talking about the future negatively. Stop prophesying your own downfall.
I said that you need to re-build your business. Start all over today, but with years of lessons built up. Are you better off financially today than you were on day one?
Matt: That’s right. You have more money, seven insanely loyal people on board, and years of knowledge stored up. Not to mention all of your contacts, equipment, and other resources. So with that in mind, start where you are and go where you want to go.
Do you remember when you first started your business?
Tom: I do.
Matt: You always spoke in future positives didn’t you?
Tom: Of course.
Matt: You had no money, no team members, no clients, and everyone thought you were crazy. Would you have said then that your “business is failing?”
Tom (laughing): I definitely wouldn’t. All I could see was the light at the end of the tunnel. I was blinded by it.
Matt: Then get that back. Get back your swagger. Get back the attitude that nothing and no one is going to stand in your way. Stop speaking negative words over your future and get back to what will be…a successful business with a great leader.
Your words have immense power! And I want for you to use that power wisely.
Tom represents all of us. His business is our businesses. It’s our children, our marriages, our relationships, and our health.
And like Tom, we must change how we speak about it.
Question: What have you been negatively declaring about your future that you need to stop? You can leave a comment by clicking here.