Why Memes are Destroying Your Small Business

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Why Memes are Destroying Your Small BusinessLast night while flipping through the channels, I came across a PBS special by Dr. Wayne Dyer called Excuses Begone! In some circles Dr. Wayne Dyer is a big name, but I only seem to catch him during the annual PBS telethons.

Some of his references make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  There’s a warning that goes off in my mind saying beware of the undertones of his message.

Taking a cue from yesterday’s post, Michael Holmes might remind us that “If it’s God’s truth then its relevance can extend beyond God’s people.”  Please do not take this post as an endorsement of the belief systems of those I will be quoting, but I think there are some interesting ideas that they are proposing that merit further thought.

Shining light on these ideas may make you look around at your business, your employees, and yourself to see if they are destroying your small business.

What is a Meme Anyway?

Richard Dawkins is credited with coining the word “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to explain how culture and ideas spread using evolutionary processes.

Wikipedia defines a meme as …

a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.

In his book, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme, Richard Brodie carries this concept further comparing memes to viruses.

The 18 Most Common Excuses We Use

This is where Dr. Wayne Dyer picks up the topic of the meme in his book, and PBS special, Excuses Be Gone! He asked visitors to his website to list the reasons (or excuses) why they can’t do something.

Dr. Wayne Dyer - Excuses Be GoneHere are the results in no particular order …

  • It will be difficult.
  • It’s going to be risky.
  • It will take a long time.
  • There will be family drama.
  • I don’t deserve it.
  • It’s not my nature.
  • I can’t afford it.
  • No one will help me.
  • It has never happened before
  • I’m not strong enough.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m too old (or not old enough).
  • The rules won’t let me.
  • It’s too big.
  • I don’t have the energy.
  • It’s my personal family history.
  • I’m too busy.
  • I’m too scared.

Ouch!  I think I might have used all of these at some point or another.  When they are written down in black and white, some of these seem so ridiculous.  Where did we learn to think like this?  How did these thoughts become part of us?

Memes and Excuses Are Viral

Richard Brodie points out that some memes are like viruses.  He explains that viruses exists in three universes; in the body, in computers, and in the mind.

He explains that …

A virus is anything that takes external copying equipment and puts it to work making copies of itself.

Just like a computer virus, or the flu, a meme virus has one goal – to multiply itself as many times and in as many things as possible.

We take measures to avoid the flu by washing our hands often or getting vaccinated.  We install anti-virus software to protect our computers.  We need to take these same types of measures in our small businesses to prevent the spread of meme viruses.

Fostering a Positive Work Environment

You’ve probably heard the saying that “misery loves company.”  It makes a lot more sense in the light of meme viruses.  So how do we sterilize our workplaces to prevent the transfer of these viruses throughout our small business?

Fostering a Positive Work EnvironmentWe could just stay away from sick people, but when it comes to meme viruses we are all carriers.  We have all been conditioned by memes through our childhood, our education, advertisers, the media, the workplace, and our belief systems.

As entrepreneurs, we need to create a work environment where we believe in our employees and go out of our way to catch them doing things correctly. We need to create a world of possibilities rather than a maze of obstacles.

Positive reinforcement of the good memes in our lives will enable them to battle the mutated corrupted memes much like the body’s biological immune system.

Be Careful What We Say

Words have a very powerful effect upon us.  One of the reasons that the positive thinking message is so successful is that it eliminates the reinforcement of these negative meme viruses.  It starves them to death.

You can’t keep telling yourself the excuses above over and over again without it taking an actual physical toll on your body.  If you want to test it out, tell everyone you meet how tired you are.  It won’t take long until you actually start feeling tired.

Likewise, you can’t keep telling yourself, or your employees, a positive message over and over again without it making an impact.

You can bless yourself and others around you with your words, or you can curse them.  The choice is yours, but if you look at the successful business people who have gone before you – they chose to bless.

Food for Thought

Hopefully, I’ve sparked your curiosity and you will start thinking about excuses as viruses and how they can impact everything around you.  Maybe you should even write down your own list of excuses and see if they seem ridiculous when you compare them with the possibilities from which they keep you.

Article by

Brad's Big Feet Marketing helps people on a limited budget enlarge their online footprint using blogging & social media. His other blog, Marketplace Christianity, examines faith's role in how we earn and spend money.

Brad has written 95 awesome articles for us at Bradley A Harmon

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

MikeHolmes December 17, 2009 at 1:29 am


Great post!! These viruses are deadly. Not that they kill life but they destroy so much potential. Personally, Ive decided to not let my life be ruled by excuses:)
My recent post What is God’s Purpose in This Recession?


Brad Harmon December 17, 2009 at 3:56 am

It's amazing what we tell ourselves and how easily we believe it. These corrupted memes spread through a small business like wildfire killing visions, enthusiasm, and potential. I still fight these off everyday, and at times I am still succumb to them.


Keith December 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I actually have Excuses Begone on my bookshelf with dust on it! My father gave it to me a few months back and I have yet to open it, thanks for the reminder because I am actually looking forward to it!
My recent post New Fence Products


Brad Harmon December 17, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I only saw his PBS special, but I am going to order the book. As a Christian, I literally cringe every time he says Source as a synonym for God or when he says we all return back to the Source. I like about 90% of what he says though. Let me know what you think about the book.


Ms. Freeman December 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Oh I am the queen of excuses sometimes. It is so easy to come up with an excuse then it is to put oneself out there are vulnerable and what not. :)


Brad Harmon December 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm

On some level excuses work for us. They provide us with some sort of benefit. In his PBS special, and I assume his book, he asks us to think about what our world would be like if we weren't allowed to use any of the above excuses. If you really do that exercise the picture that you end up with is very liberating.


Brandon Cox December 17, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Man I'm glad I don't make excuses! ;)

This is extremely valuable. I now know what a meme is and how powerful they really are. Thanks, Brad!
My recent post My New Role at Fuel Your Blogging


Brad Harmon December 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I know Dawkins has other intentions altogether when talking about memes, but there is a lot of truth in what hes says. Of course, he could have just read his Bible too. They really are very powerful, but the good news is that we can correct these memes and realign them with the way God looks at the issue.


Leon de Rijke December 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm

God created the world by speaking, so words must be powerful! ;)

Often by saying such memes we essentially speak curses over ourselves. Thanks for this reminder, Brad!


Brad Harmon December 19, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Great point as always Leon. I am working on a post talking about the power of the spoken word, blessings, and curses. It may even turn into a series, but I am trying to wrap up some of my open series first.


Rita_Cartwright December 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

This reminds me of when 12 men were sent to check out Canaan and reported back after 40 days. Ten of the men complained, they are too big (I'm paraphrasing). But Joshua and Caleb didn't complain and make excuses. They felt like with God on their side they had a chance to overtake the Canaanites. As a result of their faith and no excuses, they were able to cross over into the promise land; whereas, the remaining 10 who had excuses died in the desert. And caused their children to wander in the desert 40 years as the result of their excuses. Numbers 13, 14.


Brad Harmon December 22, 2009 at 4:30 am

Great example Rita. So often these memes set us up to fail without even trying.


Fiona Kitchen December 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Mark Twain 'I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened'.
I like to refer to this when I worry what might happen 'if'…..

Brilliant post, thanks Brad.

(And a very happy, healthy and successful 2010 to you and your followers) :-)


Brad Harmon January 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Great quote. Another one that I've heard is that worry is paying interest on a debt you don't owe. It's amazing how much we can talk ourselves out of without ever trying.


Joe January 10, 2010 at 5:26 am

I like it. I hear so many people at work making these excuses and you can see the teams slowly start to fall apart in large part because of them. Well said.
My recent post You are annoying, time to die…


Brad Harmon January 11, 2010 at 3:24 am

What amazes me is how destructive they can become and how little entrepreneurs do to try to prevent their spread. The comparison to a virus is very accurate. Why I don't completely subscribe to all of Wayne's beliefs, I really enjoyed this program.


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