no stoppingI was talking to a friend, today, who said she occasionally loses her voice in the middle of a conversation or presentation. Considering she’s an aspiring speaker, I thought this must be disconcerting.

“It’s OK,” she said, stoically. “Nothing will stop me from doing what I want to do.”

I thought that was an interesting turn of phrase, and I told her so. After all, it seemed to me that’s exactly what was happening.

Losing her voice meant that, when she tried to speak, nothing came out. So, in effect, “nothing” was already stopping her from doing what she wanted to do.

She thought about it for a moment, and then said: “How about ‘I will let nothing stop me’? Is that any better?”

“Not really,” I said. “Imagine if you were to replace the word ‘nothing’ with ‘something’ – then you would be saying ‘I will let something stop me’.”

Now, it might be semantics, or I might just be being picky – but as a linguist AND an NLP practitioner, I find it interesting to pay attention to the exact words we use, when we describe a challenging situation.

To me, “I will let nothing stop me” didn’t sound any more empowering than “nothing will stop me”, because it still implied that “nothing” could – and did – stop her from achieving her goal of being a speaker.

In the end, my friend decided on “I AM UNSTOPPABLE”, which – I think you’ll agree – has a far more empowering and triumphant ring to it!

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