Copyright © 2017 Don Maruska, Master Certified Coach and author of Take Charge of Your Talent and How Great Decisions Get Made


Could you be enjoying greater success, but you feel that you don’t have the time, money, or support that you need?” Well, you’re not alone. Many of us have a story like that. We think “if only…” or “when…” something happens for us that we will realize the perfect job, rewarding adventures, or other aspirations. Often, family and friends commiserate with us. They try to comfort us and share our frustration about the obstacles–the “buts”–that stand in our way. Unfortunately, their empathy further enables our stories that take power away from us.

If we are to reclaim our power and succeed, we need to kick the “buts” that block us. This requires a combination of a shift in mindset and practical tools. Here’s what you can do now to identify and then kick the “buts” out of the way to get what you want.


“My friends and I commiserate about the ‘buts’ in our way.”

Kick “but”:

  • Change the conversation or change your friends.

Instead of dwelling on what gets in the way, focus on what you are hoping to accomplish, insights from how you have dealt with similar situations in the past, and the resources you have.

  • Use a positive and proven script for such a conversation. We call it a Talent Catalyst Conversation because it stimulates fresh thinking and precipitates productive action.


“I have many ‘buts’ in my way.”

Kick “but”:

  • Get clear about what you really want and why it’s important to you.

Sometimes our “buts” sit on opportunities we think we should pursue when they aren’t what we really want. We don’t examine the objectives to determine if what looks like the “perfect” job or tantalizing opportunity is truly a fit for us. I saw this in Silicon Valley where many people swarmed to the “hot new thing” because so many others pursued it and they didn’t want to miss out.

  • Find a trusted family member, friend, or colleague and have her or him ask you the beginning questions in the Talent Catalyst Conversation.

“What are your hopes about the topic you’ve picked? Why are they important to you?” Be sure to go deep to get to the bedrock of what’s real for you. When you are clear about what you really want, many of the “buts” will fall away because they aren’t associated with what you truly feel called to do. Furthermore, when you pursue what’s truly you, you’ll find the self-motivation and commitment to overcome the “buts” that remain.


“But, I will get what I want ‘if…’ or ‘when’….”

Kick “but”:

  • Create a “but-free zone” where there are no “if’s,” “when’s,” or “buts.”

You may not be able to eliminate obstacles, however, you can choose your response to them. Your responses will define your success and satisfaction.

  • Replace “if’s,” “when’s,” or “buts.” with “ands.”

For example, let’s say you want a job that aligns with your deepest hopes, but you don’t have the pre-requisites for it. Instead of saying, “I want that new job, but I don’t have the pre-requisites,” you rephrase it as “I want that new job, and I don’t have the pre-requisites. How fascinating! What can I do to apply my talent and resources to begin experiencing what I want?” See blog article “Get Your But Out of the Way.”

Do you see the shift in mindset? Instead of giving up power to outside forces (in this case, pre-requisites you don’t have) and waiting for something else to happen, you engage the challenge and move forward now. [You can read a real-life story of doing this on pages 119-120 of Take Charge of Your Talent.]

With a shift in conversation, clarity about what you really want, and a “but-free” mindset, you are ready to tackle the practical “buts” of time, money, and support. In our research with teams and organizations around the world, these three “buts” loom the largest.


“But I don’t have TIME.”

Kick “but”:

  • Work like a surgeon.

Surgeons target their surgeries when they are at their best, and they block out all distractions. You might say, “Sure, but that’s different, they have lives at stake and a structure to support them.” That’s true, and you can do the same for whatever you want to accomplish. While you might not be in a situation in which physical lives are at stake, your talent and the quality of your life are at stake.

  • Learn how to slice through overwhelming workloads.

People ranging from front-line employees to CEOs have used the “surgeon’s schedule” successfully. Within a week’s time, they enjoy progress toward what’s most important to them and become energized to continue. Here’s a link to a blog article with the process.


“But I don’t have the MONEY.”

Kick “but”:

  • Tap resources around you more effectively to get what you need.

Money is a lazy and expensive way to get resources. If we had to wait to get the money to have things delivered to us, we’d be waiting a long time.

  • Take the “100 Resource Challenge.”

Most people underestimate the resources available to them. Begin by listing the resources—people, places, and things—that you can access to pursue what you hope to accomplish. Experience has demonstrated that when you reach 100 resources on your list, you will achieve what you want. This is the 100 Resource Challenge. Check to see how much you are using of the resources you have. Frequently, people underuse the resources they have when they could be tapping them more frequently and asking for more.

  • Use “Resource Mash-Ups” to create new resources from what you have. You’ll supercharge your efforts when you use the resources you to have to create new ones. This may sound like alchemy, but it’s actually the way that many Silicon Valley software companies create new apps. They take bits of code that they’ve used before or had available and mash them together to develop a new app. How can you take the people, places, and things you have to build something? For example, this article links you to blog articles and book materials to flesh out the how-tos for its key points. [See pages 88-91 of Take Charge of Your Talent for step-by-step guidance and illustrations.]


“But I don’t have SUPPORT.”

Kick “but”:

  • Make effective requests of others.

Many people feel reluctant to make requests of others. They don’t want to impose, don’t feel that they have something to offer in return, or fear rejection. We’ve encountered thousands of people, even otherwise successful people, who cower at asking for what they want.

A simple four-step method for asking has unlocked successful support. Here’s a quick overview: (a) express your intention in ways that create a bridge between your interest and the recipient’s, (b) provide a clarifying observation so that the recipient understands the circumstances and the important role she or he can play, (c) make a clear, concise request, and (d) close with a confirmation so you are clear about your agreement. Read about bold requests and how they have delivered big results.

Kick your buts out of the way to take charge of your talent. You’ll enjoy being your best. Never settle for less.

About Don Maruska

As a founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies, venture investor, and recipient of the National Innovators Award, Don writes, speaks, and coaches from a broad base of experience » Learn More

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