The Power of Words on Performance

Over the years, I have read a lot of self-help books, listened to tapes and podcasts.  At this point in my career, I thought I didn’t need to read those any more as, at this point, I am who I am. 

Reading this article reminded me that there is much value in the attitude and approach of continually learning.  As my friend, Martin Cleary has said repeatedly: be in knowledge acquisition mode.  This article also reinforces the power of words on personal actions.  Jeff Haden is the author.

I recommend you read the entire article.  I’ve briefly selected a couple of simple yet powerful points:

Research has proven that some forms of self-talk are effective.  For example there is a difference between saying “I can’t,” and, “I don’t,” to yourself.

One group was given a simple temptation and told to say, when tempted, “I can’t do (that).” The other group was told to say, “I don’t do (that).” 

Here’s what happened: 

  • Participants told to say “I can’t” gave in to the temptation 61 percent of the time.
  • Participants told to say “I don’t” gave in to the temptation 36 percent of the time.

Simply switching one word, “don’t” for “can’t,” made participants twice as likely to stay the course.

Then the researchers conducted a second experiment: Participants were told to set a personal long-term health and wellness goal. When their initial motivation waned — as initial motivation always tends to do — one group was told to say, “I can’t miss my workout.” A second group was told to say, “I don’t miss my workouts.” The third group, the control group, wasn’t given a temptation-avoidance strategy. 

After 10 days: 

  • 3 out of 10 control group members stuck to their goal.
  • 1 out of 10 “I can’t” group members stuck to their goal.
  • 8 out of 10 “I don’t” group members stuck to their goal.

Not only was “I can’t” less effective than “I don’t”; “I can’t” was less effective than using no strategy at all. 

According to the researchers:

‘I don’t’ is more persuasive than ‘I can’t’ because the former connotes conviction to a higher degree.

Or in non researcher-speak, saying “I can’t,” leads to negotiating with yourself. “I can’t have dessert… but then again, if I work out later… or if I skip breakfast tomorrow…”

Once you start to negotiate with yourself, you need willpower to win that argument.

But “I don’t” leaves no room for argument. “I don’t” doesn’t reflect a choice; it states who you are.

One word makes a huge difference.

Especially when that word is a pronoun.

The Power of “You”…

Science shows the difference between using “I” and “you” when you talk to yourself can be dramatic. 

Take public speaking: Research shows that second-person self-talk — saying “You can do this” to yourself instead of “I can do this” – will improve your performance.

And then there’s this: Swapping “you” for “I” can also improve your willpower and endurance. Researchers had participants do a number of 10k cycling time trials. After a baseline was established, researchers encouraged them to frame their self-talk differently.

  • Replacing “I need to keep going” with “You can keep going.”
  • Replacing “No pain, no gain” with “You can work through the pain.”
  • Replacing “I can do this” with “You can do this.”

While the differences seem insignificant, the results were not: 13 out of 16 participants rode faster, and the average person’s time improved by 2.4%. 

Just by saying “you” instead of “I.”

Brainstorming Assignment – Name that Boat


So FOCM Member Gayle Grandinetti is friends with a couple, Rob and Audrey.  They bought a boat and need to name it.  So I suggested an FOCM brainstorming session to generate some name ideas they can choose from.  It doesn’t have to involve their names, but that’s where I started.

To start it off, here’s what I came up with while walking around downtown Wilmington this past Sunday:

Robrey (get it, putting together their names and getting Robrey, like robbery)
Liquid Robrey
Waterway Robrey
H2O Robrey
Aquaholic (not original, seen on a sailboat docked on Cape Fear River)

Brainstorming Assignment

One of the uses for the FOCM Network is to help solve business issues, questions or needs through brainstorming and crowdsourcing.

A recent request came to see if an alternative name could be generated to the term “Business Development”.  In the clinical research world, “Business Development” is essentially: “Sales”.   In the pharmaceutical commercialization sector, “Business Development” involves: licensing, partnerships, alliances, acquisitions.

I am looking for your help in coming up with new terminology, something which has to do with these key words:






Please submit responses in the comment sections.

CRO with Central Lab seeks Business Development Director

A mid-size CRO is looking to expand their Business Development team with a Central Labs BD position.  If you are interested, please send me your resume and I will submit it.

Send resume or correspondence to me at

Let me know if you are interested and I will submit your resume.

Job Opening: eClinical Technology Sales

Submitted by FOCM Member Nick Hargaden of Ardroe Consulting

DDI is looking for someone to work freelance in pre-sales; mainly conducting
e-clinical product demos and client meetings in USA. Mostly this would
be done remotely but occasional travel could be required.

If you want to know more, email
me at:

and I will do an email introduction.

Urgent Contract Clinical Research Positions Open

Hello FOCM Network,

People to fill the below positions are needed.  If you are interested or know of someone who may be, please have them send a resume to: by 1:00 p.m. on Friday, November 8.

Job Titles Sector Location Specific Requirements & Comments
Data Manager MDD USA Optometry
Medical Writer MDD USA Optometry
Clinical Research Coordinator MDD USA Optometry
Clinical Research Associate MDD USA Optometry
Business Analyst Pharma USA
GES Analyst Pharma USA Oncology Therapeutic Area
CTA for Early Development and Phase I Pharma USA
Local Trial Manager – Oncology Pharma USA See additional Oncology requirements below
Site Manager – Oncology Pharma USA See additional Oncology requirements below
GTM-CTA Pharma USA Immunology Therapeutic Area

Job Descriptions:

Work from home with some positions requiring extensive travel

Site Manager:

•             At least 5 years monitoring experience

•             2 or more years Oncology Monitoring Experience

•             Agreeable to potentially up to 80% travel

•             Either solid tumor OR hematological cancer experience


Local Trial Manager:

•             At least 5 years LTM experience

•             At least 2 or more years oncology LTM experience

•             Either solid tumor OR hematological cancer experience

Small pharma company seeks a CRA

A small pharma with a marketed drug is looking for a CRA, so that the Clinical Ops Manager can  focus on protocol and drug development plans.   The therapeutic area of the ongoing study is Pediatric Gastroenterology and their pipeline includes Adult GI studies as well, with potential expansion into other therapeutic areas as they grow their product portfolio.

The ideal candidate will reside in the RTP, NC area so they can work from the office in Raleigh and have 5+ years experience.

If you are interested or know of someone who is, please contact me using the contact form on this website or via LinkedIn.

FOCM Company Spotlight: RxTrials


RxTrials is an elite Integrated Site Network (ISN) and consulting/training firm focused on helping bring new treatments to patients that need them.  Adam Chasse is the COO and a member of FOCM.   Adam and Chris have known each other since the late 1990’s when both were working for Quintiles.


RxTrials’ multi-therapeutic network is comprised of private physician practices, while our consulting and training divisions provide guidance to sites, sponsors, and CROs to ensure efficient and high-quality study delivery. Our commitment today is the same as it has been since 1994; to set the standard for quality in study conduct and research site management services.


Doesn’t your study deserve to be one of the 10% that finish on time?  Our industry is changing, and you need to ensure each element of your study is planned and executed precisely.  No other industry service provider matches RxTrials’ combination of hands-on healthcare, clinical research, and study operations experience – contact us today to learn how we will deliver your next clinical trial.