The Day I Lost Two Words from My Vocabulary

My vocabulary is shrinking. I know what you are thinking – the answer is no, I didn’t just take the SAT and then forget everything. This is self-imposed shrinkage.

First a story

I remember a time when I was fairly young that we went on a hike. It must have been pretty long because I made a lot of comments like “we still have a long way to go”, pretty hot because I made many comments like “it sure is hot”, and a pretty big mountain because I made multiple comments like “wow this is steep”. I wasn’t whining, just saying aloud the things that went through my brain.

Fast forward a few hours – once back home we triumphantly retold of our conquest of the mountain. But the stories that I heard from the others did not match my memory of the event! They claimed that I was complaining the whole time. Did I think I was complaining at all? Nope. Just observing. Facts. Turns out that my intention did not match the perception of those around me.

How is this relevant at all Brian?

Today I am attempting to drop two words from my vocabulary: BUSY and TIRED. Attempting? Nay, RIPPING OUT WITH MY TEETH!

These words are great for making excuses. Excuses are a crutch. You know why I’m not drinking tonight? I want to get a good night sleep to enjoy tomorrow morning. You know why we haven’t hung out? I value the other activities in my life more. Straight up. Of course I won’t always provide those answers when asked, but it means that I won’t convince myself that it is because I am tired or busy.

My fear is that anytime I claim to be busy or tired it is going to be perceived as complaining. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reason I’m busy is because there are a lot of great people in my life and a lot of things I want to do while I’m here. The reason I’m tired is because I occasionally try to push my limits.

Fake it till you make it

Once I stop saying these words out loud, it is only a matter of time before I stop even thinking them in my head. When I no longer consider being busy or tired an excuse, I have arrived at my goal: to evaluate decisions honestly. No more lying to myself.

This post was inspired by Scott Dinsmore’s post about the word busy. Scott taught Jesse and I speed reading (which I haven’t been practicing) and has a great blog you should check out.

Hopefully this provides a little insight into a couple things I value more than the average man: willpower and telling the truth. Telling the true is not the opposite of lying. It means not nodding and going along with something if you have no intention of actually doing it. Having no intention of actually doing it means if you haven’t thought about it and consciously made a decision, you should not say you are going to do it.

Big shout out to Josh Schwarzapel for letting me share his space at Dogpatch Labs. Be on the lookout for his awesome startup idea to be heading your way soon.

Photo: Taylor McBride

12 thoughts on “The Day I Lost Two Words from My Vocabulary

  1. Eric says:

    totally dope. Also interesting that you make the point (or at least make explicit) that our outward language, behavior, and inward thinking are clearly and strongly linked.

    I’d argue it goes like this – language is an indicator of an inward state, and listening to what you say (which can be a mix of intentional and instinctive) feeds back on the way you perceive yourself and your behavior.

    Thus, self-censorship of language/words is a way to observe the way you’re thinking about the world, and change that unintentional thinking purposefully. Feedback loops and learning for the win.

    • Skinner says:

      For the win indeed Eric, you crushed that analysis. Self-censorship of the words that come out of your mouth is one example, but what are others?

    • Skinner says:

      At first glance this appears to be a spam comment – “step up your blog game up and get paid” – what are you even talking about? I think your website link is broken …

  2. Matt says:

    Very well put. The personal vignette really ties the room together. You’re an inspiration for positive change in us all.

    Also, you should do an “all that is man” on Brian Skinner.

    • Skinner says:

      Ha, I’ll let you write the “all that is man” on Brian Skinner. It just wouldn’t be believable coming from me…

      Excited to see you in a couple hours!

  3. kasey says:

    just make sure that when you tell me kasey,”you know why we haven’t hung out? I value the other activities in my life more,” that you preface it with: “hurlbo, you are the bomb and I love you, but…” It will it hurt a little less that way.

    good post buddy!

    • Skinner says:

      Thank goodness you will never have to hear that response from me! I also expect this honesty with myself will mean that I do hang out more with the people I care about – busy isn’t an excuse so I will make time for the people that I haven’t been connecting with but want to.

  4. Lara says:

    Pretty sweet lil bro.

    What really makes me smile is the fact that your brilliant, little brain was probably churning out a thousand interesting thoughts on that hike, but only the obvious, less-meaningful ones were expressed! I love that your blog gives us a chance to read your thoughts that might not come up in conversation. Similar to deleting those words from your vocabulary, this blog allows you to be honest and focus on what you value most.

    Can I request that your conversational use of the word “nay” be increased to match your written use? 🙂

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