The Most Limiting Word | Compass Point Skip to main content

Most Limiting Word - 1200

Words matter.


Because we become what we think about.

And words are an outcome of our thoughts, consciously or subconsciously.


Your words echo throughout the family business and influence its character. Those words will determine if you have a business (and family) of success or dysfunction.


How do you build a Family of Character?


On purpose. It’s no accident that some families are very emotionally healthy while others struggle.  And I’m not talking perfection here.  That’s just another type of dysfunction.


One of the paths to building a family of character is working on your thinking.  Here’s an exercise for you and your family.


Ask them what they think is the single most limiting word in the English language.


I’m going to guess, “don’t, can’t, won’t, no, etc…” came up quite often, all of which are for sure limiting. But I heard a speaker several years ago, Rabbi Stephen Baars, who said the single most limiting word in the English language is blame.  Yes, blame.


I think he’s on to something here.  When you’re in a mindset of blame, you’re stuck. It’s like a brain freeze. You get caught up in resentment, regret, and not taking personal responsibility for the situation you find yourself in. It must be SOMEONE ELSE’s fault!


And even if it is someone else’s fault that the situation exists, being stuck in blame is a choice. One that will not let anyone move forward.


Here’s the trick. Change your mindset to being creative. Once you’re in a mindset of creativity, suddenly anything is possible, you get unstuck, and you’re able to figure out the next step.


The interesting thing is your brain can’t hold two opposing thoughts at the same time. So, the way out of being stuck in blame is through strong self-awareness. To know when you get into the blame game and realize this will serve nobody – including you.  A simple change in mindset from blame to creativity is all it takes.  It’s the word that sets you free. And families that practice this WIN.


Creativity is one of the characteristics of families of character.


The crazy thing about emotional and psychological health, and quite frankly our physical health as well, is we pay little heed to it until we are smack in the middle of a crisis.


We take these aspects for granted until they don’t work anymore. Then all hell breaks loose.


So, teach your kids (and yourself) the “kind stuff”. The soft management skills guru Tom Peters describes in his most recent book, Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism, as “hard is soft, and soft is hard”, deference to hard work required for emotional and psychological health.


Drop the blame.

From your thoughts, your words, and your heart.


Be the example to your family and employees.

THAT is the start of a great family business and legacy.

Tom Garrity profile picture
Tom Garrity

Tom has family business in his DNA. His entire career was forged in family-owned companies. This extensive experience in business development, key leadership roles, and practical financial analysis fueled Tom’s quest to help owners build successful businesses while maintaining a strong family unit.

You may also like…

Family business: Getting back to pre covid levels


How Family Businesses Can Navigate Post-COVID Challenges

“In quiet and untroubled times, it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going..."

Read More
A family working together in family business


Becoming a Family Business: This Firm Lives What They Teach

You may know the man in the photo as Tom Garrity, Founder of Compass Point, a family business consulting firm in Southeastern PA, headquartered in the Lehigh Valley; I know him as my inspiration, mentor, confidante, tennis partner, and best of all – my dad. This blog marks...

Read More
The Culture Code review


Cracking The Culture Code for Business and Leadership Strategy

Discover how business and leadership intersect in Daniel Coyle's "The Culture Code," offering insights into building successful organizations. I recently asked the LinkedIn community what book most closely aligns with your leadership identity...

Read More

Where Family Businesses Come to Grow & Learn

At Compass Point, we make it easy to get insights, training, tools, and articles straight to your inbox and help family business owners and their team continue to grow, learn, and lead.