The Speech Wiz Shares a Simple Way You Can Create a Positive Mindset by Exchanging One Simple Word for Another

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"Getting to Have what you Need is much better than
Having to Get what you Want.”
Don E. Smith

I often encounter articles extolling me to have “An Attitude of Gratitude.” Perhaps you do as well.

Gratitude is a powerful life-force. It is the verbal equivalent of chicken soup. If you use it in your life, it cannot hurt. I cannot think of a single instance in my life when someone expressed their gratitude to me and it did not have a positive effect, and vice versa. Gratitude is what we share with others when we are pleased by what they have done. You can convey your gratitude to someone for a job well done, a favor performed, or steadfast support of what matters to you. But, I’d like to challenge the habit of having “An Attitude of Gratitude” when we speak to ourselves.

The practice of positive self-talk is a critical element in any success strategy. If you tell yourself you are grateful for something you have done, acquired or achieved you are basically thanking yourself for doing something for yourself. I call this Appreciation because it recognizes your unique value.

Throughout my coaching practice, I have used a simple word switch technique to help my clients make a shift from Gratitude to Appreciation. By simply exchanging two words, “Have” and “Get” they have been able to eliminate stress and anxiety while increasing their energy and enthusiasm for leading and speaking.

While Gratitude and Appreciation are closely aligned they can be distinguished by how they align with your Wants & Needs.


Back in 1969, The Rolling Stones shared with us this highly enlightened piece of philosophy:

“You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

There is so much wisdom in this line. I only wish I understood it’s value when I first heard it. To complicate matters even more, it’s highly unusual for you to have what you want until you get what you need. It’s even harder to keep it.

Every coaching relationship I have, whether for leadership or speaking, begins with an assessment of three things: 1) what does the client want to achieve, 2) what current assets and resources does the client currently have, and 3) what does the client need to get in order to fill the gap between the two.

Every person who has taken a class or has a passing interest in psychology knows about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In its most simple view, it tells us that you cannot rise to the level above until you get what is needed in the level you currently occupy.


In terms of priorities, Needs always trumps Wants. The less you need to get, the easier it is to have what you want.

Wants are Haves and Needs are Gets.

“I want to have a vacation in the Caribbean, but I need to get more money and time to take it.”


Believe it or not, Having (wanting) is part of our Gratitude mindset. We are grateful for the things we have. If someone gives you a gift, you now “have” it and you must show your gratitude to them for giving it to you. Because they don’t “have” to give it to you, the burden is on you to make sure they know you are thankful. Gifts come with the responsibility to show how grateful you are for the gift by using it and taking care of it.

There is an old joke that goes like this. A mother asks her son, “What do you want for your birthday?” The young man says, “I want a new tie Ma.” On the day of his birthday his mother gives her son not one, but two ties as a present. The next day he comes downstairs for breakfast wearing one of the ties. His mother looks him over quizzically and then asks him, “What’s the matter… you didn’t like the other tie?”

Want to Have to Responsibility, I couldn’t have said it better.

Think of all of the things you have wanted that you know have. Do these “haves” tend to weigh you down. You want to own a house, but you have to maintain it. You want a job to help pay the mortgage, but you have to work it.


Let’s play my little word switching game. Here are a series of responsibilities. When you read them, can you feel them weighing you down?

I have to pay my mortgage.
I have to paint my house.
I have pick up my kids.
I have pick up my cleaning.
I have to work late.
I have to call my mom.

Now let’s switch the word Get for the word Have in each of these sentences.

I get to pay my mortgage.
I get to paint my house.
I get pick up my kids.
I get pick up my cleaning.
I get to work late.
I get to call my mom.

As you read each of these statements, do they make you feel more appreciative of the things in your life? Appreciation is a positive mindset that celebrates Opportunity. You may not like your lousy job with your over-bearing, clueless boss, but at least you get to work.

The formulas looks like this:

(Want + Have) * Gratitude = Responsibility
(Need + Get) * Appreciation = Opportunity


I am always amused when someone tells me they have to give a speech, run a meeting, or address an industry gathering. The last time I looked, I don’t remember any of these things being done under threat of physical harm.

Speaking and leading are getting things. They are unique Opportunities, ripe with potential and unlimited possibility. They should be embraced with wide open arms, abundant enthusiasm, and focused intention. They are special things to be fully appreciated upon both receiving and completing. Perhaps more people would step up to seize theses unique moments if they could make the shift from having a daunting responsibility to getting an unbridled opportunity.

The next time you feel you have to do something because you feel a responsibility to do it, practice some positive self-talk and switch the word get for have. It will help you eliminate stress and anxiety while increasing your energy and enthusiasm. You will be better positioned to seize the opportunity before you with full appreciation for the reward it brings as both a leader and speaker. When you do, you will see that “Getting to Have what you Need is much better than Having to Get what you Want.”

I am delighted that I get to share this blog with you and I am grateful for your support. Remember, you don’t have to leave a comment on this post or suggestions in the comments section below, but you get to do so with my sincere gratitude. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.

To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz