When you leave your job or current position; when your kids move out; when clients, colleagues, or companions leave your life; and ultimately when you leave this earth, you will be remembered by the story you wrote about yourself.

So are you telling a yes…and or a yes…but story?

The Tale of Two Presidents

What does that even mean? Allow me to explain using two figures from history—President Reagan and President Nixon.

Reagan was yes…and. Nixon was yes…but. Because of that, history views the two presidents very differently.

Reagan would say, “Yes, I was poor and I was emotionally wealthy. Yes, it was a challenge to deal with a congress from an opposing party and that gave me alternative viewpoints to choose from. Yes, the Cold War was looming and that was the opportunity to find allies for peace.”

Nixon, wrote a different story about himself.

Nixon said, “Yes, I went to college, but I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. Yes, I was President, but I had enemies. Yes, I was popular, but the media was out to get me.”

He wrote a very different story about himself and guess what? People believed the story he wrote.

What Story are Your Writing?

You and you alone write the story of your success. And if you don’t write it deliberately, it will be written for you. My hunch is you won’t like the back cover of that book.

“Yes, I had a hard time and now I’m on my way back. Yes, my parents weren’t ideal role models and now I have the opportunity to give my kids an amazing childhood. Yes, I got fired from that job, it was scary, and now I am pursuing a more fulfilling path.”

And or but?

Yes, I lost that big client…

and that freed me up to find my ideal customer -OR- …but they were awful.

Yes, I’m having a hard time seeing the way out of this mess…

and now I can look for opportunity I would never have considered before. -OR- …but, what’s the point?

Yes, I feel like I’m consumed with anger and anxiety…

and that gives me the opportunity to have to slow down and collect my thoughts before I act. -OR- …but that’s how I’ve always been?

They’re Listening

Your co-workers, they’re listening. Your team, they’re listening. Your customers and clients, they’re listening, too. Your family, they are definitely listening to the story you tell each and every day.

And I get it, it is very easy to slip into yes…but mode.

But the weather…

But the economy…

But the election…

You can’t control those things.

However, you can control your attitude and your reaction. The story you tell about yourself is 100% in your control. Because those around you will believe the story. Your clients will believe it. Your employees will believe it. Your family will believe it, if YOU believe it.

Be aware, the next time you use the word but. Stop. Ask yourself, “What is the story I want to write?” And commence writing your leadership legacy.

Lead well,

p.s. – Thanks for listening! Please rate, review, and subscribe to my leadership podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and/or SoundCloud.