We all have buts … ones we sit on and ones we get set on.

In my 26 years of working with small business owners, I can tell you setting on your but is the number one root cause for marketing (and business) failures. So how do you get off your but? I have some ideas … but let’s start with a story of how the Universe guides you to the realizations you need…

Imagine this: It’s February in Montana.

I’m at REI with a photography retreat participant while she’s shopping for boots because the airline “misplaced” her luggage and, well, it’s Montana in February. As I’m walking around the store, I see a big chalkboard titled “What’s Your But?” and it immediately drew my attention. On it, were written all the “buts” of why people couldn’t pursue their outdoor dreams. Everything from it’s too cold (did I mention this was in Montana in February?), it’s too dark, I don’t know where to start, it’s tarantula mating season, I’m out of shape, etc. You get the idea.

Dealing with people’s buts is a big part of my coaching/consulting business. I used to draw the line with my clients at just marketing conversations.

Dealing with people’s buts is a big part of my coaching/consulting business. I used to draw the line with my clients at just marketing conversations. That changed when I, personally, become more attuned to a mindfulness perspective. To be honest, when I stopped giving “just” marketing services and started asking WHY my customers were resistant or struggling to certain aspects of their marketing programs and then addressing that root cause, I started to see an uptick in my clients’ successes. A dramatic one. The takeaway: “buts” put a stop to a lot of good and beneficial marketing ideas.

“But I can’t afford to pay for an ad.”
“But I don’t like social media?.”
“But I don’t like talking to people.”
“But I don’t know what to say!”
“But maybe you could do it for me?”
“But events stress me out.”

The list goes on … forever and is as assorted as my clients. When I started to address the “buts” with a “why,” some things shifted for both me and my clients. “Why don’t you like social media?” The answer for one of my clients was rooted in a privacy concern from her former marriage and had nothing to do with marketing at all. It was totally subconscious. Once she recognized the “but” for what it really was, being on social media for her business became fun and interesting — and much more lucrative. That’s the thing about “buts” — they often are not the actual problem. Sometimes, you need to shift into mindfulness to find the underlying issue. Sometimes, you may even need some help depending on how you handle your buts.

That’s the thing about “buts” — they often are not the actual problem. Sometimes, you need to shift into mindfulness to find the underlying issue. Sometimes, you may even need some help depending on how you handle your buts.

Some people just power through their buts.

When I was a kid, my mother and I rode horseback almost every day. And, almost every day there was some type of condition that made it at least mildly uncomfortable — too cold, too hot, too windy, too rainy, too many bugs, dirty horses, grumpy horses, visitors, etc. The buts were myriad, but my mother, with her own brand of mindfulness training, simply caught the horses, tacked them up and off we went despite the buts. I learned tenacity from these rides. I also learned that being mildly uncomfortable doesn’t have to spoil the joy — or success — of any activity.

My mom and I on one of our rides — in 1974!

Here on the ranch, our lives are full of these moments. The weather alone offers an endless supply of reasons to set on one’s “but.” So are uncooperative livestock, machinery, and just general exhaustion at certain times of the year when the “but” becomes “but we need to do this now before [insert looming event here].” Those rides taught me how to deal with those buts very effectively.

As a CEO of a growing business, I find myself with lots of buts.

Many of them are not the kind you can just power through. “But I need to do (insert diversion) first,” is my favorite but, always has been. I refer to it is as “structured procrastination” and it actually serves a purpose … sometimes. A common example goes a little like this: I have a task I need to accomplish; I know there’s a tool better than the one I am using to accomplish the task, so I go out hunting for it under the guise of “improving” things; I spend hours researching and find the perfect tool; now, I have to learn the tool, set it up, make it perfect. Nevermind that the tool did the job only slightly better than the tool I already had and knew! This but feeds my desire to learn new things, explore new horizons and implement new solutions. It also is one I have to watch carefully because it is distracting, time consuming and often leads me down the bunny trail of a total distraction that seems worthwhile.

No matter where you are in life or business, there always seems to be a but lurking in the shadows — or dancing in the light as a distraction.

Which brings us to the next topic of conversation: In a world where buts are quite literally everywhere, how do you shift your but into action?

The good news is that buts are a lot like Rumpelstiltskin in the old fairy tale — all you have to do is call them by their real name and they magically start to fade away — keep saying their real name out loud, and they will vanish. Forever. (Or, at least, stop bugging you as much.)

Once you recognize a but for what it really is, it becomes easier to move.

With that said, you have to be watchful to not let yourself get stuck on the next but in line. Buts have a unique way of queueing up in layers like Russian nesting dolls.

Anytime you feel your progress toward a goal slowing or getting stalled, it’s a good time to go looking for buts as the probable culprits!

Another word to the wise, if you catch yourself setting on your but, don’t beat yourself up about it. Buts happen. Just call the but out for what it really is and move on. Failures are a big part of being in business and each is a learning opportunity. Each one makes you better.

Finally, you can always turn a but around on itself and make it positive.

“But, I am going to do __________!”

For example: “I’m so tired, BUT I am going to finish and post this blog.” Or “I don’t like to attend networking events, BUT I am going to go because I like new clients.”

Now that I’ve confessed my favorite but, I’d like to know yours. Remember, buts tend to go away if you call them by their “real” name, so say it loud and proud if you’re willing. You can join in on Facebook — or in the comment section here.

Join Kim every week as she gives you one thing you can do to move your business marketing forward.