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Jun 6, 2008

“Shut Up” – The Two Most Important Words For Success

While gearing up to start next week’s series on better sleep, I came across this video gem via featuring Will Smith.  (You don’t have to watch it to get the point of this article, but it’s a fairly inspiring 2:09 of your time).

When “Shut Up” Shows You Really Care

For those who skipped the video, Will Smith talks about how the act of running can make you a stronger person because it forces you to have to deal with that voice in your head that tries to make you give up. I’ll let Will say it:

“When you’re running … there’s a little person that talks to you, and that little person says, “Oh, I’m tired,” or “My lungs are about to pop,” or “I’m so hurt, I’m so tired there is no way I could possibly continue.” And you want to quit.  If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running, you will learn how to not quit when things get hard in your life.

If you really care about succeeding at something, about following through, then you’re going to have to learn how to tell yourself to shut up (or, if you’re from New York like me, you can tell yourself to “f*ck off.”  Canadians do this too.).

Learning to silence that voice that tells you to quit, or that you can’t handle it, or that you’re too tired is one of the keys to success for any goal.  This internal resistance is going to happen (you know from experience that it will), so it’s mandatory that you learn to deal with it up front. You need to plan ahead to say what needs to be said so you can do what needs to be done.

Nailing this is so critical to winning, in fact, in both my early riser and time managment programs it’s pretty much the very first thing that I teach.  It’s that important.

What Your Heroes Do When Nobody’s Looking

If you admire anyone who has reached a measure of success, don’t buy into the fantasy that it came easy to them.  It didn’t.  No matter how easy you think some people have it, they busted their ass to get to where they are (and likely still do on a daily basis).  Their success was hard-earned.  It cost blood, sweat, and tears.  It took real work, and there were times when that voice screamed in their heads to quit, to take a break, to come back another day, to throw in the towel.

But they didn’t.  They told that voice in their head to shut up.  And they got back to work.

And they won.

Are You Willing To Tell Yourself To Shut Up?

As you face this weekend (and the coming week), think of the tough things you’ve got on your plate (or the things you’ve been avoiding / slacking off on).  Think of the things you tell yourself that hold you back from taking action.  Rehearse those all-too-familiar conversations in your head and then practice cutting them off with a hearty “shut up!” – or again, a “F*ck off!” (once more, with feeling).

If you want a step-by-step way to make training that response easy, you can find it right in the beginning of my audio programs. Learn to get the last word in the conversations you have with yourself, and a Will Smith said, you’ll learn how not to quit when things get hard in your life.

Now get to it – you’ll thank yourself for it.

Share your “shut up” one-liner in the comments below and subscribe to this blog for more real-life success tips.

17 Responses to ““Shut Up” – The Two Most Important Words For Success”

  • Jun 6, 2008 Jamie Grove - How Not To Write

    Stamping out the little voice in your head that says you can’t do something is the first step forward. Your mention of calls to mind my wife’s transformation at the gym.

    Like many women, she looked over at the free weights section and thought… “I can’t do that.” but then, something made her say to hell with that. In the last three years, she’s gone from a size 18+ to a size 6. Oh, and it probably would do to say that she can bench press her own bodyweight. ;)

    She turns 40 tomorrow and has an amazing new outlook on life.

    Fantastic post, Dave!

    Jamie Grove – How Not To Write’s last blog post..Funny Writers: Twit-Wit Contest Win a Poem from Me!

  • Jun 6, 2008 Brett Legree


    This is why I keep coming back here. And the running tie-in – perfect. I’ve had to tell myself to f*ck off many times when I’ve wanted to quit. But I won’t quit.

    And then with my other personal plans – I could easily listen to the little voice inside that says sometimes, “just give in and be a 9-to-5 ‘er, collect the paycheque and don’t worry about it”.

    While I’m here, I’ll embrace the suck. But when that little voice says, “give in” what it’s really saying is “give up on your dreams”.

    This week I really started telling it to f*ck off and I’m amazed at how it is working. I’m working my network and working my goals and it’s going to be a very exciting time in the not to distant future. Hell, it’s already exciting… and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. :)


    Your wife kicks a$$, and you can tell her I said that if you want. That’s just awesome.


    Brett Legree’s last blog fridays – wake early.

  • Jun 6, 2008 Wendi Kelly

    way to jump start my Friday morning. And I’m playing that video for my kids. awesome……
    I know that voice..heard it loud and clear on the 25th mile of my first marathon whining like a baby. I told it it would have to bring a semi and run me over before I would quit. That finish line was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen to this day.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..Fountain of Beauty

  • Jun 6, 2008 Jamie Grove - How Not To Write

    Thanks, Brett! She definitely kicks my a$$.

    She was doing T pushups the other night, stacking her feet and using dumbells. I couldn’t even find anyone on YouTube doing that kind of thing. T’s yes. Dumbells yes. Stacking feet? Nope.

    I tried it for fun and a noise came out of my body that no one could properly describe… :)

    Jamie Grove – How Not To Write’s last blog post..Funny Writers: Twit-Wit Contest Win a Poem from Me!

  • Jun 6, 2008 Brett Legree


    It sounds like she’d kick my a$$ too. I train with kettlebells which are pretty tough, but I think she could keep up with me from the sound of it… :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog fridays – wake early.

  • Jun 6, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Jamie –
    Inspiring stuff. Can’t wait to start some StrongLifts action next week.

    @Brett –
    Keep at it. ‘Course I don’t have to tell you that.

    @Wendi -
    Glad you liked it – and glad you know what to say to that voice.

  • Jun 6, 2008 Colleen Vanderlinden


    That was just what I needed today. I’m feeling pretty unmotivated, starting to feel some burnout. I’m at a point in my life, professionally and personally, that I’ve wanted to reach for a long time, and I’m just feeling “out of it.”

    The video was awesome. It reminded me why I work my ass off, and why I need to keep doing so: “The guy who works the hardest wins.”

    As for the rest—-there’s that voice in my head reminding me how tired I am, telling me to just forget those deadlines and relax. And I’m telling it to f*ck off. It feels good :-)

  • Jun 6, 2008 James Chartrand - Men with Pens

    Yup. You hit the nail on the head. I don’t know how many times over our career I’ve whined, bitched and complained. And then I told myself to shut up, quit being a downer and got down into it.

    But you know what? The learning experience of the blood, sweat and tears is well worth every minute.

    Cheers on your subscriber rate :)

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Writing the Farewell Symphony

  • Jun 6, 2008 Karen JL

    This is also exactly what I needed to read this morning. I’m entering my ‘Hell Week’ as I like to call it. When I’m chained to my desk from 9am to 4am for the next 7 days. I can’t fall behind, but I am a bit now.

    This is what I’ll tell myself (the f*ck off one, cause I’m Canadian) and just plow through the damn thing. There is much freedom waiting for me at the end of that week and I will make it.

    I shall embrace the suck. Thanks Dave. :)

    Karen JL’s last blog post..A Little Hell Week Potpourri

  • Jun 6, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Colleen –
    Glad to help. Swearing boosts morale. I have proof.

    @James –
    Preach it. & Thanks. I’ll catch up to MwP sooner or later.

    @Karen -
    I hope you meant 4pm, not 4am. Otherwise DAMN, Canada’s tough.

  • Jun 6, 2008 Karen JL

    @ Dave
    Yes, I meant *AM*. Some long ass days ahead of me that will probably be topped off with a 28-hour all-nighter to make the deadline. (Trying to avoid that tho). And I don’t drink coffee.

    Cartoons are a nasty business. ;)

    Karen JL’s last blog post..A Little Hell Week Potpourri

  • Jun 6, 2008 Steph

    I totally agree with this post. Brett pretty much said what I think. It’s hard, so HARD, sometimes, but I know it’s worth it. You tell yourself to fuck off enough times, the quitter in you will eventually go away, I think. You’re training yourself how to think.

    Hmm. I love this blog. Thanks!

    Steph’s last blog know it’s hot when…

  • Jun 6, 2008 Kelly


    That’s one of my favorite guys you had talking up there, so of course I was going to love the post. Will Smith is a wonderful inspiration.

    Oh, I do tell myself to shut up all the time when negativity tries to creep in. I wonder if that started back when I used to run track? Hmm.

    For me, the key is to have a replacement message at the ready. Shut up—when you finish this proposal you’ll read all the blogs you’ve been missing. Shut up—you know how much better you feel when you take time for those weights. Shut up—after you make this dreaded call you can take five and go shake some energy out. Without that positive message I would tell myself to shove off about the shut up, and have a nasty internal argument going between me and me. :)


    I know from experience what a massive life shift it is to decide to make the change your wife did. (I dropped 90 lb. several years back—whew!) Congrats to her, and to you for appreciating her, which is harder than it looks.



    Kelly’s last blog post..Mail Bag: Or, the Long Tail of Search at MCE

  • Jun 7, 2008 Ali from The Office Diet

    Dave — thank you! I needed to read this. I’m often guilty of falling into the “I just can’t do it”, “It’s too much effort”, “What if I never make it” trap. I’ve been working almost every morning (before day job) evening and weekend for the past couple of months, trying to get to the “take off” point for going full time as a freelance writer by September… and there are times when I question whether it’s worth it.

    But telling that doubting inner voice to just “shut up”, and sitting myself down and just ploughing on, seems to be working.

    One of the lines that stood out for me in your post was “If you admire anyone who has reached a measure of success, don’t buy into the fantasy that it came easy to them.” — It wasn’t until I bought the ProBlogger book (by Darren Rowse & Chris Garrett) that I realised how hard Darren had worked in the early days on his blogging, and how uncertain he’d been then about whether it was viable to make money from it. Inspiring stuff!

    Ali from The Office Diet’s last blog post..Enjoying your holiday without ruining your diet

  • Sep 13, 2010 Arlena Pyper

    What a fantastic post! You really must write more about kettlebells they are my new fitness passion.See you

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