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"I'm doing the best I can" (and other things you should never say)
Last Updated July 3rd, 2014

If you ever said (or thought), “I’m doing the best I can” you must watch my new video.

Because using this phrase, and other phrases like it, could be the difference between success and failure in business and life.

If I were you, I’d be thinking, “Whoa! Slow down… Mr. Bombastic.”

But for today, I’d like you to keep an open mind.

Go watch the video.

The One Thing You Should Never Say Again

Why You Should Eliminate These Phrases From Your Vocabulary

There’s one type of phrase you MUST eliminate from your vocabulary.

It’s one of the most limiting phrases I’ve ever seen. And if you’re not careful, I believe it could be the reason why you fail to achieve important goals in your life.

What is it?

Keep watching this video…

A while back, my friend Noah Kagan asked me what I was up to.

We’re friends, and I don’t have the cleanest mouth amongst friends, so I said, “I’ve been working on Social Triggers shit lately.”

I didn’t mean anything by it, but he fired back:

“Do you think your work is shit?”

I said, “no.”

And he said, “well, don’t call it that then!”

What’s strange is that he made sense.

I believe I put out some of the best training videos on the web, and here I am, equating my work with what gets flushed down the toilet.

That hardly seems right… even if it was innocent.

And while I don’t know if it impacted how I personally perceived my work, I’ll say this: It feels good to not call my work that. (Thank you, Noah!)

But after that encounter with Noah, I realized that people use what’s known as self-limiting phrases.

Phrases that degrade their work, their potential. Or worse, phrases that put a glass ceiling over their head ensuring they’ll never improve.

Me calling my work shit was one of those phrases.

Here’s another one:

“I’m doing the best I can.”

I just hate when people say it.


It’s simple:

People only say it when they fail to hit a standard… whether it’s their own standard or someone else’s standard.

And the truth is:

To me, all it really is an excuse.

I don’t believe “doing the best you can” exists. I believe you can always do better.

But when you say it, all you’re doing is putting a glass ceiling over your head, limiting future your growth and ensuring you never do better.

And you know what?

You deserve better.

And that’s it for today.

You’ll face enough obstacles in your life… here’s to you not being one of them.

Do you use any self limiting phrases? Or do you know any friends that do?

Leave a comment. I’d love to hear about them.

Also, if you’re new here, make sure you subscribe to Social Triggers to get more helpful videos just like this one.

And also hop on the Social Triggers mailing list.

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106 comments Leave a comment

This is an interesting post. I like the comment about the perfectionist who is paralyzed because they are not doing their “best” so therefor they may do nothing. If I I feel I ought to be doing better and am not doing the “best”, does that make me a failure?
Something IS better than nothing at times. I like the expression “you do not have to eat the whole elephant”. There are certain moments when the overwhelming possibilities or missteps one can/has made lead to overly negative self criticism.
That said, on the job I always try my best and if others think there is a misstep I always ask for corrections or additional information. There is certainly room for change, alteration or improvement.


As much as I see the problem with saying “I’m doing all I can” to justify one’s lack of actions, there is a natural limit to what we, people, can do, and those limits are different for everyone. There is nothing bad about being able to realistically see those limits. If we can see those limits realistically I’m not sure though.

Still, the whole concept of positive language is simply about convincing yourself that, come on you lazy, you have something left in you to do more even though I’m not sure what it is you have there. However, you won’t find those magical resources just by being positive – you’ll actually have to sacrifice something (such as.. another hour of sleep at night.. or another hour with your family.. or whatever else you do that’s currently not allowing you to spend that extra hour on those other things). Yes, if you want to sacrifice it, then you can still do more. So, basically, figure out the priorities, and, if you still want to say “I’m doing the best I can” after that.. why not?


Derek: Kim Jong-Un wants his shirt back!
Seriously, thank you for the reminder of the power of self-talk.
I wish you continued success.

Steve V

Interesting video and yes I believe that your words came make yourself self limiting. I recently watched a program about Henry Ford on Netflix. It was very inspirational to me. He believed in his core that his vision for a car could come true and today we take driving in a car for granted. Not so before Mr Ford invented the Model T!

John Garvens

I tend to say, “Oh, it’s just some work that I do on the side,” to describe my business: Garvens Media. Historically, I haven’t treated it as a business. As a result, it hasn’t produced the results of a business: significant source of income, name recognition, etc.

Watching this video, I realized my mistake. Before other people take my business seriously, I need to take my business seriously and call it what it is.

Garvens Media is my business. I created it. I sell digital marketing services to local businesses. By definition, that is a business, and I need to treat it accordingly.

Honestly, it feels awkward to call myself a “business owner.” Society tells us that business owners have employees, an office, and a company fleet. Society also tells us that a business owner must generate 100% of their income from their business. Those ideas are false.

Simply put, business owner is anyone who sells a product or service for money. By selling digital marketing services to another business and accepting payment for them, I am a business owner. It still feels awkward to say, but I know that, if I say it enough, I eventually believe it.


    I don’t think you should have any other way around but you can see it on the article but you have no way there is a way of the article that should have been a good way of article article and article it was unsourced or is a source of for a reason to change it article and not to do it again until you see this it the article should not do so here it is a good way of doing it right here to help the other people out who is the one you are thinking of and doing it so yes you have a great article about it the article should have not been done by any more than the other ones you are now but the article should have a better version if there were more than two of them and you are the one to be a good article about it now you


I have a tendency to say, “I’m just a student” or “I just work at school”. Even though my work can be quite fulfilling, I tend to downplay it.
Thanks for another great video.


I worked in CHQ as an Exec Assistant at a huge telecom, so I heard it all. One of my best life lessons was this one. A senior executive was defending some action taken to our chairman. The exec said “I did my best.” The chairman replied “Your best is not good enough.”

We sure don’t want to hear a reply like that from clients or colleagues. Find other words or just shut up for a minute.


    if the chairman replied “Your best is not good enough.” I would replied to the chairman, to show me how to do better. Many of manager that I came across are never pro-active.


That phrase has always irritated me. I think you nailed the ‘why.’

Anthony Tran

You’re definitely right… words are powerful! Choose your words wisely as it could subconsciously be creating a glass ceiling. This video really got me thinking of some of the words that I use be using. Thanks Derek!


    Words are powerful! I came across the manager know how to play the Manipulation game and make the employee feel like trash. Saying the phrase “I do my best” could be good or bad. The person who received it will take it the wrong way. But all depends on that person how they take it.


Used to think to myself, although never vocalised it, ‘the world is against me.’
Talk about limiting belief and my experiences at the time reinforced it.
As much as I hate the system we live in, I’ve learned to believe in a loving world where anything positive is possible. Makes a big difference.


I myself am writing a course on this subject at the moment – the Captain (conscious thinking) directing the crew (the power house – subconscious), it has no way of knowing what you really want just creatives what you tell it. If you focus on my work is shit…. I can’t – I’ll never – your right. Being mindful of what we think / say is very important.


Hoof in mouth disease and I have been guilty of doing that! Mine has also been “doing the best I can” and recently discovered when I say it or think it, I paralyze myself and my creativity stops. Working on being mindful to keep the lid off of being my own obstacle.


Great Video 🙂 Yea, Your are right Derek, What you think about is what will happen to you [the law of attraction]


Guilty as charged!
There has been 2 recent occasions when I talked a tiny game about myself. The first when I was asked by a friend about my new venture, the second when I was asked about a girl I used to have a crush on. I couldn’t believe it, I was surprised as it happened but I couldn’t stop myself. I have to learn to be quiet if I sense I’m going to poo poo myself like that in future!

Rachael @ Love Yourself Green

Oh lawdy, I used to degrade the crap out of myself with my old website a couple of years ago. I won’t even get into all that because it doesn’t matter anymore. What DOES matter is that now I have the tools and attitude that I need to be successful. I feel like I can’t fail and you were a big part of that for me. As always, thanks!

P.S. If you put a white piece of cardboard under that collar, you’d be a priest yo! Good look for you! 🙂

Thriving Elite

Great video on how powerful simple thought patterns can be…

Juan Fco Romero

Awesome video again. I think positive thinking is the way for succes in life. Thanks.

Michael Swaleh

What. Are. You. Wearing? It’s July bro!

Anyway, good, quick motivating video. Anytime one of my employees says this I say, “Well then let’s figure out how to get better, so we can do better”.

Missy Cooke

This phrase drives me crazy! It’s life nails on a chalkboard.

But, I have my own, of course. I just recently recognized how often I say “When X, then it will be so Y.” I have committed to removing it from my vocabulary because it gives me an excuse to not do what I need to do. Also, it makes me feel bad for “not being good enough” which is a slippery slope to pity party.

stephen mackay

I agree…ditch the shirt

michele c

Hi Derek,
Enjoyed your video. I agree that the phrase “I’m doing my best or doing the best I can” can be limiting. However after reading the posted comments, I’ve used every one of them at least once! I never thought about it before. Thanks for the wake up call.


Thanks Derek! Good stuff!

Maureen Witten

Hi Derek,

Thank you for making this video. I constantly degrade myself and my work whenever friends and family ask how my business is going. I say things like “Well, I only have xxx customers, so it’s not great” or “Well, thank goodness my husband has a great job to support us while I do this little business on the side”. The truth is, I’m working hard at my business and putting every ounce of myself into it every day. The customers are touched and healed by my work, so nothing I’m doing deserves degradation.

Thanks for pointing this out!

The Get In Shape Girl

Anything you say you are or say you do will inevitably come true. So every single day I write down something I want as if I already have it and am grateful for it because I know it will be the case soon 🙂


Yes, nobody is doing their best..Agreed with you here.

And by the way, I like your shirt. 😀


Hi Derek,
Thanks for posting. I had never thought about “I’m doing the best I can” as an excuse phrase, but I agree with you. I really dislike “I am what I am” or “It is what it is” phrases. Even though I used them myself, it always made me feel negative.


Great subject!

I tend to put my limiting language right on top of something true and strong, thus chopping the first statement off at its knees. (If a statement can stand, then it must have knees).
The most common example, “Sure I’m wildly successful in this industry, but everyone I’m racing against has tied their own shoelaces together.” It’s funny, but it belittles my own success and the fact that I’m truly an expert and an influencer.


Thank you for sharing, words are either positive or negative depending on context.

My annoying phrase is “No worries” after you thank someone for a great job or when they helped you with something. I understand they could say “it was nothing”, but it was something or why would you thank them? What ever happened to “your welcome”.


Great point. This is something I finally learned and wish I learned it years ago.
I’ve writing my first novel and sometimes am tempted to say to my family, “I’m going downstairs to try to write for an hour.”

Um, no! I usually catch myself and say, “I’m going to go downstairs to write!”

Boyd Bairn

Thanks Derek,

Words have power! Words we use affect not only us but others. Say to a child “don’t go in the street”. What happens? They run for the street. The word don’t is not heard.

Don’t reply to this comment.


This is a concept I teach my 3 daughters but have forgotten to look at my own self limiting language. Thanks for the reminder.

Robb Gorringe

One of the most limiting phrases I hear is…

“I… just haven’t had time lately.” I must admit, I’ve used that one, several times though myself. [wink] // awesome vid too, DH. //.



I am working two jobs, and then come home to build my company (I devote at least 25 hours a week for my company despite my other work hours.)

I get emotionally tapped and drained and instead of making an exact plan that allows me to streamline and “manage” with a turn-key rather than “do” and manually churn the spinner – I justify not doing these things as “I’m doing all I can with my limited resource of time” AND “I do not have the time or energy to manage a team.” That is bullshit.

WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF THINKING AT 5 X OUR MENTAL CAPACITY. Problem solve, find where time is leaking unnecessarily or what is most important to the next $$ that is not getting done. Now take that need, and build a plan to STREAMLINE the continuation of that action. Repeat, problem solve, streamline, revisit to make tighter and more effective. I need to be more fucking robotic to pull this off.

In summary, I’m not thinking as smart as I should. I am dealing with how to conserve mental energy to bust through this current time in the business’s cycle – waiting to feel “caught up psychologically”. I am looking for a system that I can create that will apply and be streamlined – but that system always needs readdressing for effective action – and my energy to address that consistently I do not trust.

THANKS for the thoughts – well needed. Onward and upward, baby. Time to push harder. For no other reason except, what the hell else are you going to do?


Love the kung fu outfit Derek.

Jon Blomquist

Derek – You’re spot on with the message. Keep on inspiring!

But that shirt makes you look like Kim Jong Un. I’m glad to see, at the end of the video, that you’re getting rid of it 🙂

yolanda padilla

“I’m a struggling ______________.”

Describe yourself that way and you shall be a struggling whatever and you will stay that way.


Great topic Derek, and I know I use that phrase myself in my work as a Chemical Engineer. I very rarely say it out loud though, and upon reflection, I think I use it internally as a protection mechanism against perfectionism, shame and unrealistic expectations. It might usually be in the context of “I’ve done the best that could be reasonably be expected of me on this piece of work given my level of experience in the subject matter and in the time available”. I think this is a valid application if you’re not particularly bothered about being the best in something – and let’s be honest, not everybody wants to be world class in everything they do (or perhaps at a certain time, they’re not giving priority to being world class in that action). So whereas I could spend more time developing myself as an engineer, I’m not making that a priority at the moment. You’re right though in that hiding behind “the best I could do” is definitely putting up a barrier between yourself and greater success.

Mckenna Hallett

NICE one, Derek!

I have a acquaintance/client who just opened a new art gallery and when I asked how it was going, he said something about how stretched he and his biz partner were and that “we had to hire a person to sit the gallery for a few hours today”.

“WHOA” I said. “You mean you have hired a professional Art Consultant to make sales when the two of you can’t be there, right?” He blushed and said, “Well we hope she makes some sales. She works at blabla gallery full time and we think she knows her stuff.”

Anyone want to lay odds on how long this gallery is going to last if they don’t clean up their language AND talk with more confidence?

NICE one, Derek!

Barb Brady

I like it! This is a great video.

I just went through a point with my kids to not say “Life is not fair”. I can undertand some people saying it when they are in despair and crying out in frustration. But, I don’t believe in saying it due to daily events such as not getting a client or, for my kids, not getting the grade they expected.

I believe we all have so many blessings.

David Rhoderick

Most of my friends tell me that I am always too hard on myself. When I’m playing guitar and singing, it’s always that I didn’t practice enough. When I’m creating a website or programming, it’s that my brain isn’t wired to figure out programming that efficiently.

In the first case, I believe I say I don’t practice enough to get my mind to think that I need to practice more. In the second case, I am using an excuse to explain my frustration. It seems as though I have the wrong opinion in the second situation, but couldn’t it be possible that using a phrase that could be
“limiting” might even be helpful, as long as one doesn’t get too down about it. I mean, practice makes perfect, right? No harm in telling oneself that…

Deborah Hubbard

Great message, Derek!
My line when I failed – again and again – to find an agent for my novel was “I don’t know what to change to make the manuscript better.” After a rejection you fell pretty, well, rejected. A few days later, the brain would start whirring, looking for ways to solve the unnamed (because they never tell you what your ms lacks) problem. After 2 years of revising and revising without knowing what was wrong, I self-pubbed.

Eleanore Strong

I think mine would probably be, “I don’t have time.” Or, “I’m too busy.” I only recently realized just how limiting this was! After all, everybody has the same 24 hours in a day. And most of us waste a lot of those hours or spend them wandering aimlessly through tasks with no strategy to make us productive. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 was never to say, “I’m busy” – because I want to take more responsibility for how I spend my time. It’s helping.


Good call on the shirt Derek, it deserves a fast death!!
I used to say that I was waiting for the stuff to happen. Realised that I was limiting myself and have now removed this and other limiting vocab from my brain. Cheers on another great video. Happy Days

Jon Hagen

I’ve said that “I’m working on it…” as an excuse for not following through.

Kit Gan

This is enlightening
I hate it when people tell me “I am already doing my best”
And yet in my mind, i constantly tell myself “You are doing your best, don’t be too hard on yourself”

Recently, I will just think of the next step and ask myself “I will try this method instead…..”

Kathleen Thompson

Mine is “I know it will take a long time.” I’m trying to reduce my expectations, but that can easily backfire and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I happened to notice it the other day, and decided not to say or think it. I am focusing on the work, and letting the timing be what it is.
Thanks for the reminder, Derek.

Colette Nichol

Interesting video! I have the same foul mouth at times, so I can understand that. I’ve stopped saying working on business shit, but I just realized that using the word “stuff” in reference to what I do is hugely limiting. I’m not working on my stuff, I’m creating beautiful and complex work that involves a high level of skill and talent. So yeah, time to just be specific and not use limiting vocabulary. Thanks for the great video and the great reminder!

Jean Living

Fantastic video thank you very much for your time in making it, I am guilty of putting myself down and I will learn from this and improve on my own faults forever!

Thankyou Again.


Hi everyone,

great video & I like your shirt, Derek.

“I’m doing the best I can” is a phrase I use occasionally, but -to me- it has different meanings.
First, when I’m stuck, it lowers the bar of expectation towards myself. It’s a way of telling myself “Just start and see where it’ll get you”. I get around my fear of failure with it.
Second, and more importantly, it’s a way of telling myself that the result of my work has to be no less than to the best of my abilities. This includes i.e. intensive research, asking people I consider professionals, reaching out to people online, etc. So when I’m done and/or something goes wrong, I know in my heart, I delivered to the best of my abilities for that task and at that time. This is the most important interpretation for me as it gives me peace of mind.
The third meaning is meant to work around my perfectionism. I would need several lifetimes to realise all of my ideas and concepts. It is also a way of telling myself that I carefully weighed my priorities and only picked the best options. Quality over quantity.

Phrases with “try” in it, I usually use towards aquaintances and for me a polite way of saying “Thank you, but no thank you.”.

I dislike others saying things that are obvi a cop out or imply failure before starting. You’re either in the water or you’re out. There’s no “half wet”.

connie curtis

I am have business that I am getting off the ground and one of the things i say is that I am creating my business. I actually created it 3 yrs ago and didnt know what to do. I took b school and I subscribe to you and have found some other good resources. I have a business and I am looking at how to market so that i have results this time. If you have suggestions on this let me know. I have a business so I am not starting one the first one just never got started.

    Boyd Bairn

    I found your comment very interesting. A little more information would be helpful. What is your business and why did you start it?

David Shaw

Another amazing video! Would love to hear a podcast with you Noah and Billy! Discussing this? Would be epic!

Martin Russell

Near the end of the video Derek you say things like “what annoying phrases do you say”, and then “I call my work crap”. I was hoping I wouldn’t hear those given the story you told.

Here is what I thought I would hear….
“I callED my work crap.”

It can be strangely freeing to use put any and all ‘negative’ or limiting phrases into past tense – even if you don’t already know exactly what will flood in to the space this opens up in your future.

And best of all, for those people who don’t like positive affirmations because they are ‘lying to themselves’ or ‘faking it until they make it’, saying things in the past tense is in fact more true anyway.


On the flip side, some people use that word for positive… e.g., the term or phrase “good sh*t” after someone makes a difficult basketball shot. Or a good shot when you slam the ball on your opponent in ping pong. It really depends on where you’re from and you’re environment, as well as the meaning you give the words you say.

That’s my two cents (pun intended). 🙂

Josh Lipovetsky

One that I have noticed lately: I say, “I’ll see what I can do” when someone asks me to do something, and I’m not sure if I can succeed (or I’m already planning to fail.) It’s like a disastrous middle ground between “I’ll do it” and “I won’t do it.” Indecision abound.


I’m definitely with you on the positive language front, and I completely see your point with lowering the ceiling, but hmm… I find myself saying that phrase when explaining to my darling partner why I haven’t had time to vacuum after a day of working on my business while looking after our toddlers. Until I can afford a cleaner, I think “trying” is what we’ll have to live with 🙂

Geniece Brown

I have said exactly that before: “I’m doing the best I can.” I have been called out on being comfortable. I know I can do more. Thanks for the reminder Derek!


Derek! Are you wearing lipstick? You’re looking too … self-conscious? Good talk though. I watch you videos because you usually give down-to-earth no nonsense advise – something all too lacking these days. Thanks 😀


Here are self-sabotaging words I’ve wrung out of my written copy (and my clients’ written messages too!):

“Little” – as in “my little story” or “my little company.” Saying little belittles your achievements.
“Strive” “Endeavor” “Attempt” – sound like you want to hit the goal. but. never. quite. get. there.
“Will,” “can,” “should,” “might,” “has been”—these and other helping verbs are often unnecessary and leave room for doubt! Strike them to create a crisper message.
Using “just” in your copy (and speech) sounds apologetic. Nix that habit for stronger impact.

Food for thought! LOVE the video, thank you so much, Derek!!


    Agreed. Also, delete “I believe ..”, “In my opinion …”, “I think …”. Just say what’s on your mind without qualifiers.

Laura Ahnen

Talking the talk often precedes walking our walk and we can be our own worst enemy OR our very own best friend. (I shoot myself in the foot and limit myself when I say things like “I’m this kind of person…” or “I don’t…”. What I often then realize is that WAS the person I WAS up until this very point in time…and I can change in a blink of an eye as I change my perspective.)


Very good!!! Follow up video should be how to complain effectively so people are aware of your hard work. I’ve found if you don’t complain people assume your not doing anything. It’s hard to learn to complain as it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a plower 🙂

Jennifer Kilkenny

I can see how “I’m doing the best I can” is self-limiting for some people; however, I find it to be empowering for others, myself included.

I’m one of those people who, if I don’t do my best, stellar work all day every day, I will dump on myself, doubt myself, and become paralyzed by it. That prevents me from actually doing my best.

So by reminding myself that I’m doing the best I can and that I can’t always be on my A-game, I’m silencing the voice that tells me that unless I’m always doing amazing, perfect work, I’m worthless.

Oddly enough, it allows me to do even better the next day and opens me up to new possibilities. Reminding myself how far I’ve come has also helped.

I think a good point here is that we all have things that we do to get in our own way, and we need to get out of our way. Making small changes to the way we think and handle different situations will help us all improve and reach beyond goals we dreamed of.

Great video. And I agree – that shirt needs to go in the trash. lol


    I have the same way of thinking (described it below) and btw, I looooove me some Kilkenny 🙂


I actually used this today in response to a situation at my new job (second day)

While it was a situation that warranted that phrase (I’ll skip the story, as it is long), as I was typing those words, it felt like an excuse… because it is.

I had a physical reaction to these words, even though I was justified using them in this case. Pretty power shit… errr, insight!

Malcolm Surgenor

a similar saying that gets me riled is the popular response to “how are you today” here in Scotland. Instead of “I’m good”; “I’m great”; etc., the reply is often; “I’m not bad” or “I’m not too bad”! What a low negative starting threshold.

Renee Beese

Like you Derek,
I am a master of my mind and I find my self deprecating truths in my bloopers when I can easily say “I am just kidding” … but am I really?

A good place to look more clearly ie: the garbage reference in your blooper 🙂

Renee Beese

Pat Miller

A friend sent me a quote recently that said, “Take your negative self-talk and make it the opposite. Then act like THAT’s the truth.”


“I don’t know” is a serious limiting belief I’ve used, and I try to avoid now. Because I usually do, or if I don’t I can find out lol. We live in the information age for goodness sakes lol.


    “I don’t know” is an empowering belief, for me. BSing my way through something prevents me from really learning something. When I acknowledge that I don’t know the answer to something, it drives me find it out. Then I can move forward from a stronger place of knowledge.

    Of course, using “I don’t know” as an excuses is not empowering… but *anything* could be used as an excuse, and all excuses are limiting.


Forgive me father for I have sinned. Will you be taking confessionals Derek?


“I don’t feel like doing it now — I’ll work on it tomorrow.”
“I don’t have enough time.”
“I don’t have enough money.”
“I don’t want to.”


Insightful, practical, and simple advice all delivered in a James Bond villian shirt. Great video, Derek! My phrase while building my current company has repeatedly been “that’s out of my league”–usually in reference to clients I’d like to work for. Even though I know my skills are adequate to the task at hand, and I learn more and get better with each project I do, I intimidate myself. Thanks for the tip!

Heidi Thompson

Using the word “just” is another big one. I’m JUST working on a new product. Just? Really?


    That one gets me too! I find it’s usually women about their job “just a receptionist” or being a stay-at-home mother. Why so apologetic!


I have totally done this before, when talking about my business, saying: oh just working on some stuff, or on the Model UN stuff like it’s unimportant.

Instead, what I am going to say now is: I am focusing on building my business. Or I am focusing on growing my business. Basically, use language that reflects how important this is to me, and how seriously I take it.

Also, LOVE this quote: You’ll face enough obstacles in your life, make sure that you’re not one of them.

Heidi Thompson

The 2 that drive me nuts are “I can’t” and “There is no way I could ever do that”. I hear both of those from people all the time!


I think you could do a whole video on *SHOULD*…

When you say, “Yeah, I *should* do — or go — or be —” you kind of feel better, like you are acknowledging that you see a problem, but that will be fixed in the future, just not today.

It gets you off the hook, but is so destructive.
I always “red-flag” when I say or hear someone say they “should”…


Good points about self limiting talk. On the other hand, this video is great fodder for stimulating perfectionists to immerse themselves further into self slavery. A friend of mine tells me I work harder now than I ever used to when I was working for someone else, and he’s right. Sometimes you have to acknowledge there are times when you have indeed done the best you can. Perfect? no. Acceptable? Very likely. And I’m in no way encouraging mediocrity.


I’m never doing my best – by which I mean I’m constantly striving to deliver better quality, more valuable work to my clients all the time. I KNOW I can do better and my clients get the benefit of that drive! I really think it helps people create stronger plans for their own businesses, because when I push myself, I push them, too.

There are a ton of phrases that drive me crazy but today I’d like to rant about “taking business to the next level”. What level are you on now? How do you know what the next level looks like? How will your investors or customers know? THEY WON’T! So stop using that pretentious, ambiguous phrase, people. /rant

Shaleen Sharma

Here’s something my mentor taught me. Never say ‘I did not complete (whatever I was supposed to do) because….’ . He was like, either you have completed the work or you have not, so do not make excuses. It is best to say ‘I have not finished it, but I will finish it by (the date)’ and get it done by that day.

Cat : The Straight Talking Ginger

Great video Derek!

This is something I bang on about all the time to others. Our use of negative or self-depricating language feeds how we see ourselves and ultimately becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy unless we catch it and shut it down.

For some people if they use alot of positive language it tips from confidence into arrogance. It’s just not the case. Believe in yourself and use language that you would want to hear from others…it’s not arrogance, it’s just plain common sense in my humble opinion.

‘Good is the enemy of great’ after all.

Lincoln Parks

Great video and message. I think the word “Try” has to be eliminated from the English language altogether when it comes to making things happen.

Natalie Sisson

It’s amazing how using the right language daily can affect your whole outlook on life, how you act and think. It’s like ‘I’m trying’ – I hate that phrase and look to Yoda every time.

Do or do not. There is no try.

Same with ‘trying my best’ – just sounds like a cop out. I am doing this to my best ability actually makes you step up and make that sentence come true.

Change your words and change your life.


    I also used to think of Yoda’s “try or not try” until I came across this TV series’ quote:

    “Trying is the least we can do.”

    Or something like that. It has stuck to me since then.

    I at least try. If I fail, then I learn and either try again or try something new.

    Anyway, just a perspective thing. As long as it works for you.


    Bonus points for Yoda Quote 😀


Hi Derek,
Never thought about this before… But I say it too. “I’m doing the best I can”…. and I complete with “I don’t have time”. I’ll pay atention now.

Loz James

Hi Derek

Very timely video as I’ve literally just stopped saying “I’m trying my best” this week – after my wife picked me up on it.

It’s a bullshit phrase that’s just an excuse to let yourself off the hook really.

What I’m doing instead is picking out “small wins” and commenting on those in a positive way.

Now I’m not doing the best I can, I’m doing way better!

Cheers 🙂



I have a “crap draft.” It’s more than a first draft, but not a final draft: crap that I know has to be rewritten because one writes crap first. When I look at my rewriting process, I see it’s not really crap. It’s a skeleton. My skeleton draft that I know must be developed and polished until I have a “sterling” draft. It will be gold if it ever make money.


When I’m stuck or otherwise having a hard time with something, I’ve learned to use a concept that might at first sound limiting. I call it “good enough… plus one.”

In reality, though, I like to think that it’s the opposite of “I’m doing my best.”

Here’s why: If I’m stuck, it’s usually because I holding myself back, because I’m worried that I won’t end up with the perfect result. As soon as I let myself understand that it doesn’t have to be perfect, there’s a tremendous relief. Whatever I’m doing, it only has to be “good enough.” Plus one.

And that’s the beauty, that “plus one.” It keeps me pushing upward, even if I don’t think I’m doing my absolute best work. Heck, *especially* if I don’t think I’m doing my best work. It reminds me that there’s always room for improvement. Over time, the work gets better and better. Those plus ones add up, and the momentum builds.

Maybe I’m crazy. Am I missing some self-limiting aspect of this phrase? Call me out, if I am! Please!

Social Briton

Not too bad. Tony Robbins (another gr8 motivator) goes over this NICELY. But, Tony adds a bit of spin that Mr Halpern does not mention. (I don’t work for Tony btw): Self sabotage – is not always thus – some folks take this piss (chide, kid, poke-at, etc) and STILL achieve. In many cases, its a matter of what I call ‘Cultural Valences’ – where a Briton may be very HIGH achieving and still take the piss on himself – and have enough humility about it all to withstand your best shots. To wit: not all folks are cut from the same fibre. Americans are known for being VERY literal and despite being native English speakers – North American English speakers still “speak a different language” if only culturally. Its important to take ‘Cultural Valences’ into consideration when some one sputters a self depreciating remark. They could actually be showing you their GOOD side.


    Thats an important comment… I think these videos are made for the US public so they dont really deal with cultural differenceS… At least thats how I understand most of the US production in most of the areas of life.

Jeff Claassen

Great video Derek!

Not sure if this is what you were going for, but I use “I can’t” way too much. I’ve been told throughout my life to stop saying that, especially if I have not tried what I am saying I can’t accomplish.

I know I have limited myself by this phrase. Anxiety holds me back and because of my fear of failure I don’t try enough as I should.

I’m slowly learning that failure is required to succeed. It’s just part of the journey.

Richard Taylor

Derek – I’ve caught myself saying “that’s good enough” more than once, and have always regretted it later. My work is always subject to a face-to-face critique with my clients, and it’s embarrassing and frustrating to see it through their eyes and know that I could have done better. Thanks for the great reminder to dig deeper!

Craig Martin

Hi there.

I think of “it’s good enough” OR “it’s not perfect” when I think of two phrases are just as bad as “the best that I can”.

Aiming for perfection and obsessing over it – instead of finishing the job to the greatest possible result – just wastes time and energy. On the other side, other folks nonchalantly think “it’s good enough for government work” and that just turns into a downward spiral.

For me, I’ve worked hard to blend the two together. When it really matters – like a client’s website copy or constructing a deck – I aim for perfection, but I’ll focus on limiting any mistakes while making sure it gets completed by the deadline. But if it’s something like making a sandwich to go with my beer, pfffft.. big deal.

Have a good one.


“It is what I deserve”. what is this based on?



first this is really a great tip. In Judaism we have the concept of not talking ‘loshon hara” translation “evil tong”. That concept does not just mean the prohibition of talking bad about other people but talking bad about yourself as well. Well, calling what you do is s!@#@ is the extension of it.

So, there you have it. It’s spiritually validated as well that talking bad is a in fact bad concept 🙂

(You can delete this part: Your in video buttons at the end all over your different videos work inconsistently. In this very video they are not clickable.)


So true Derek, thanks for shining a light on it.
We made it a rule in our company that we never say “try” and we call each other on it when we hear it. We ‘do or don’t do but there is no try’ (Yoda) and it really makes a difference. When we write it’s more powerful.
We’re also working on getting rid of other limiting phrases we hear around the office and it’s amazing what a difference it makes.


Derek: Your vid had my name all over it today. I never thought that I was limiting myself when I say, “I’m doing the best I can.” I know in my mind that I believe there’s always room for growth but my words only serve to justify my limiting actions. No more! Sky’s the limit for me! So from now on, I’m going to watch my words. Thanks!

Piers | CrowdfundingDojo.com

It’s funny I used to use the exact same phrase (“Doing the best I can”) until I came across Tony Robbins and NLP and realized the power of words, especially those phrases that start of with “I am…” I know a bunch of people who will say things like “Yeah, I should do that (thing they’ve really wanted to experience for a long time), but I’m such a procrastinator.”

It’s such hypnosis. Crazy!

Therse’ days I’m extremely careful with what5 I say to myself, to the point of sometimes getting teased about it. Lol. Anyway, great video as usual Derek. Keep up the, er… “golden nuggests”. 😉

    Devani Anjali Alderson

    Me to, Piers! — And watch Tony has helped with a lot of the limiting belief’s I’ve had whether it be about my work or anything else. It’s amazing how many you can have once you consciously recognize them.

    Another one I had (and am still working on getting over): “They won’t like me if…” *insert xyz action*

Kamila Gornia | for passion-driven solopreneurs

Another great video, Derek.

I know a lot of people (myself included) who have called their work as that too. Degrading our own work without even realizing we’re doing it… in a way that is not done on purpose, I think, but it still has an effect.

I also agree that there’s no such thing as doing the best you can as a finality but you can do the ‘best’ you can at any given time with the purpose of growing and getting even BETTER. We’re all about being fluid and growing. As soon as you stop growing and moving, you are stagnant. And when you’re stagnant and not moving… well, you’re basically… dead.

Okay that was grim but I think it’s true. Constant growth is where we want to be and speak of our work in a great way so we don’t undermine our value is the way to do it.

Great video 🙂

    Jude Binang | Premium Business Blogger

    Sure, this is another perfect video from a Pro.

    I agree with you Kamila. Like I am fun of telling my blogging friends; in this era of blogging, you need to have deep passion for your niche.

    It all depends on you self esteem. You have to strongly believe that your product or services is the best, and work harder to get better. This is how you land the high paying gig. This is how you get better at what you do.

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