(Issue #529) Time to Revisit Our Big BUTs

Recognize which BUT is taking control.
Then kiss your BUT goodbye!

I have written on this blog before about excuses and how they can derail our plans and dreams. (See here, here, and here for instance.)

For this week’s blog, let’s revisit the Top Ten Big BUTs—with an addition.

Yes, our BUTs have continued to grow.

Eleven BUTs that have the potential to keep your life and any group you attempt to lead in neutral–or maybe slip into reverse.  After a while, the BUTs become noise. Obstacles to any meaningful progress.

The first step is to recognize (be aware of) how your BUT is taking control.  Then make the decision to kiss your BUT goodbye! And, if your organizational management problem is due to the Big BUTs in charge, it might be time to consider a leadership change. Effective leaders listen and learn. If you hear a lot of BUTs, question the listening and learning that is going on. Probably negligible.

Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows.” And a big BUT is a powerful block to clear and progressive thinking.

Top Big BUTs

  • The I-Know-Better-Than-You BUT. Have you ever been in a meeting when you were asked for ideas and suggestions? You and your colleagues offered them. And then the leader (poor manager?) had to tell you all why those would never work. “That’s not a bad idea BUT we first must do this.” OR “OK. BUT that will never work.”  Can you say no conversation and lack of collaboration. None. At. All.

  • The Fearful BUT. This can be a paralyzing BUT.  The fear factors can be many.  The economy, opinions of people, lack of confidence, a desire to remain “in charge,” attempting a new project, and lack of support (financial, social, or occupational) can cause fear to raise its head.
  • The Fatal Resignation BUT. This BUT plays out for people who have convinced themselves that their life (or the organizational life) “is what it is” and nothing will ever change. You know, let’s just keep doing what we’ve been doing because to make a change would require rewriting our autobiography–and we are quite comfortable with our autobiography, thank you!
  • The Whiny BUT.  This can end up being a close cousin to the Fatal Resignation BUT.  “I would do it BUT, you don’t understand what I go through.” Or “Easy for you to do what you want. I would, too, BUT everyone is against me.”  Yes, we don’t live in another person’s skin. And yes, we don’t know what they have to live with. And no, this does not make light of difficult situations.  The point is, if all we do is whine about the adversity we face nothing will change. Think of a major decision confronting your organization. Is this BUT prancing around to stop forward movement?
  • The Self-Serving BUT.  This person will move forward BUT only if you do something for him or her. Action is predicated on what the payback will be.

  • The Time BUT.  Many of my former students had a lot on their plates.  Between child care, transportation challenges, work, relationship issues, and adjusting to college expectations, they could easily fall into this trap. “I would work with a tutor in the Success Center BUT I just don’t have the time.”  The problem, though, is not time. It is priority management.  Don’t blame time. Review your priorities.
  • The Blaming BUT. We have all heard this cognitive trap. “It’s not my fault!  I would have been on time BUT the traffic on that bridge is always backed up.”  Really? If it is always backed up, then why don’t you leave earlier? “I would BUT I can’t get up in time.”  Why don’t you go to bed earlier? “I have tried BUT you just don’t understand!” (See Whiny BUT and/or Fatalistic Resignation BUT above.)
  • The Rationalizing BUT.  This person has a reason why she is not doing what she knows she needs to do–or what she says she would like to do.  Her intentions might be great.  She has difficulty translating intentions into action.  “I know I should lose ten pounds BUT I am under a lot of stress now. I’ll do it later.” This person is always waiting for the perfect situation to present itself.   (See Fear BUT, Time BUT, and Money BUT.)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli.

  • The Lying BUT.This person has no intention of moving forward or changing or doing what he says he will do.  He can use any of the other nine BUTs on this list as a way to cover his true intentions.
  • The Money BUT. This can be closely tied with the Rationalizing BUT.  “I would start my exercise program today BUT I don’t have the money for gym membership.” Maybe you could just begin walking around the neighborhood? “I would BUT I need a good pair of walking shoes.”  (See Rationalizing BUT.)
  • The Lazy BUT. This is pretty basic.  Pick any of the BUTs above, strip away the reasoning and get to the core: This person is not motivated to change. The couch is comfortable. The jeans are not that  tight.  I don’t like my job BUT it is just too much trouble to go back to school or look for other employment.

Video recommendation for the week:

Effective leaders know they have to let go of their BUTs and lead. Here are five characteristics real leaders I worked with exhibited. And I very seldom witnessed them clinging to their BUTs.


Which BUTs are affecting your life, your organization, your progress, and your dreams?  What can you do about that today?

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

About stevepiscitelli

Facilitator-Author-Teacher
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