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10 Phrases Successful People Avoid

10 Phrases Successful People Avoid (But Losers Use)

From B. Marr

Winning and losing are about your frame of mind more than anything else. You can be a successful go-getter working in a mail room just as easily as you can be a loser CEO. By cultivating a winner’s mindset, you’ll set yourself up for greatest success.


Check out the list of phrases below and note any that pop up in your daily lexicon. Eliminating them from your speech will go a long way to eliminating the negative thoughts that go along with them and help you believe that you can succeed.

1. That won’t work.

How do you know it won’t work? Even if it’s something that’s been tried before that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work this time. Shutting down ideas without trying them is definitely not the mark of a winner.

2. I can’t do it.

OK, negative Nancy, but guess what? If you can’t do it, chances are they’ll find someone else who can. Instead, approach this from the perspective of what you’ll need to accomplish the task. Do you need more training, more support, more supplies, more time?

3. Impossible

Things are rarely impossible, so be very careful throwing this word around. In my experience, it often indicates someone closed-minded who can’t see another person’s vision. Rather than declaring it impossible, open your mind to how it might be possible. Brainstorm. Look at the problem from different angles. Nothing amazing was ever created by declaring it impossible.

4. That’s not fair.

What are we, four-year-olds? Real life isn’t set up to always be fair, and if you find these words coming out of your mouth, you are almost certainly feeling mistreated. Instead of playing the fair card, however, try looking for opportunities to improve the situation. And, understand that sometimes you’renever going to change a situation to make it fair — you might have to go out and create your own, more fair, situation yourself.

5. It’s not my fault.

It may very well not be your fault, but this phrase assumes that you’re laying the blame somewhere else. And nobody wins the blame game. Instead of focusing on blame, focus on solving the problem. How can you step in and make things right — even if you weren’t the one in the wrong?

6. I might be able to…

Might is another one of those words like try that set you up to fail. When people use words like this, it’s because they’re expecting not to be able to do whatever is being asked of them. Or, sometimes it’s used grudgingly. A client asks you to go above and beyond your original agreement, and to placate them, you say you “might” be able to add something. In either case, don’t hedge. Stand your ground and say what you mean.

7. That’s not my job.

One of the things managers loathe to hear. Sometimes, in order to help the team or move up the ladder, you need to step up and do things that might not ordinarily be in your job description. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of, but try to look at working outside your comfort zone as an opportunity for experience and growth.

8. Need

Need is a funny word. You need food, water, and shelter. You don’t need that report on time, your team to come in for the weekend, or really anything else at work. You want it. Perhaps you even require it for things to function and flow properly. But do you need it?

9. I think…

Which sounds more powerful: I think, I believe, or I know? I think can be wishy-washy. Leaders and other successful people are decisive. Go with what you know.

10. I’ll try.

Take a page from Yoda’s book of wisdom: Do, or do not. There is no try. People tend to use the word try when they want to leave themselves an out, because they consciously or subconsciously don’t believe they can or will accomplish the task.


These are my top 10, but what are yours? Leave your favorite “loser mindset” phrases in the comments below so that we can add to the list.