Debunking Conventional Wisdom. 10 Whines that Kill Performance.

By Larry Taylor

Let’s quickly cut to the chase. 

The biggest barrier between where you are and where you want to be in life is 


That’s right - you. Not bad breaks. Not attending the wrong college. Not a mean boss that doesn’t like you. Not being born to the wrong parents.  Not a bad economy. Not a bad President.  Not unethical competitors. It’s you. 

But to be more precise, it’s how you 


Beliefs are the filters you use to view the world. Beliefs determine the attitude you bring to the game. Beliefs guide the choices you make and don’t make. Beliefs define who you are; not what you are.

More importantly from the standpoint of overcoming the predestined adversity, we humans inevitably endure at inopportune moments in our business and personal life, your beliefs are what guide your decisions during your darkest moments when you are the most vulnerable.

Under pressure, humans revert to their core beliefs. Think back to a time in your business life when you were on a winning team; when profits were soaring; when everybody got a Christmas bonus just because they were on the team. During the bountiful times, everybody gets along; everybody at work is your friend; it’s one big party and loads of fun.

Then recall when the team hit hard times and no bonuses were given; everybody’s favorite joke teller got laid off on his birthday; a hiring freeze sent a cold chill around the office during the hottest summer in years; travel budgets for conferences and retreats were deleted.

When everything is going great we can disguise and dodge our Beliefs. I don’t agree with what the Big Boss wants to do. It’s a little bit shady, but what the hell! I’ve never had such a large house as I have now and I’m finally living the big life.

But when the Big Boss makes a similar decision during a no-bonus, no-new-hires no-travel period, we revert back to our core Beliefs because the pressure is on and it feels as though we can’t trust someone else to make decisions for us.

So you say to yourself: The Big Boss is really a shady character. I can’t believe he would do that to our customers just to try to make an extra buck. Boy, if our clients found out I was part of that they would think I was dishonest and a cheat. I’m not getting paid for breaking my morals; I’m getting paid for breaking sales records. I’ve either got to say something or start looking for a job.

A core Belief of an Orange is that the true test of a team is how they respond to losing, not how they respond to winning.

When the team is losing, you can see their true beliefs. You can’t tell a thing about them when they are winning.

That’s why football fans idolize the quarterback who can bring his team back in the final two minutes of the game to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat. The mythical quarterback believes he is not defeated until the game is over. He believes he can win. He believes failure is not an option.

This book is about looking inside yourself to truly understand the Beliefs that are guiding your decision when they matter most.

My role in this journey you have chosen to take is not to tell you what to believe or to judge your beliefs. My job is to bluntly discuss the beliefs that I have seen clients, friends, family, and myself, use to make decisions that eventually created a crisis of confidence or commerce.

I am not asking you to believe everything you read. I only ask that you explore the possibility that I might be right, and after you have dealt fairly with yourself, to then make a decision about whether you have Beliefs that are getting in your way of having the business or personal success you desire.

As my former client and friend Clint Black sings: We tell ourselves…..

Be An Orange

Because the Orange strategy is the foundation for all that I do and will be referred to often in this article, I will give you a brief overview of what being an Orange means. If you want to know more, you can go to my website

The Orange concept originated from the deadly cliché: I’m looking for an apples-to-apples comparison. When you think about it, when someone says that to you, he is literally saying that you and/or what you have to offer is merely a commodity product. That he can’t see any value-added reason to pick you over the other alternatives.

To me, he is also screaming something that totally makes me angry. He is saying that his mind is on autopilot and he sees the world through the Belief filters of an Apple. That he is letting “they” do his thinking for him. I refuse to do business with people who don’t think and just want cheap.

And after I developed the Orange strategy, I found a lot of clients who agree and have based their business on the fundamentals of the Orange strategy.


To be an Orange is to take a fresh approach to business. One that is counter to tradition and steers clear of the traps of sameness and conventional wisdom. To be an Orange requires you to open your mind to possibilities before you make a decision and to not do it “the way we’ve always done it” because the world today is not the way it always was.

To be an Orange is not to try to predict the future, but to move boldly to create the future you want. To be an Orange is to embrace four core strategies:

CHANGE THE BATTLEFIELD. He who defines the battlefield defines the terms of battle. Force competitors to compete on terms that play to your advantage.

OUT-SMART ‘EM DON’T OUT-SPEND ‘EM. Throwing money at problems doesn’t solve them; it disguises them. But it is a classic Apple strategy because Apples seek the safety of sameness and fear blame more than failure.

CHALLENGE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. Subscribing to conventional wisdom is putting your mind on autopilot and blindly applying yesterday’s simple solutions to today’s complex problems. Just because it worked once doesn’t mean it will always work. And just because it didn’t work once doesn’t mean it won’t ever work again.

DON’T WHINE. Whining is not accepting responsibility for your performance and not being willing to see the world as it is, but rather, as you convince yourself it is. Whining takes you out of the game. It is the single greatest barrier between where you are and where you want to be.


As my grandmother used to say, it’s the simple things in life that matter most. 

Now while I believe that to be true in understanding and implementing complex processes and methodologies, like all conventional wisdom, it comes with a smidgen of truth and a dangerous dollop of deception.

My philosophy is to master the complex and make it simple. But the only way to be successful by using the simple version is to totally understand the complexity to such an extent that by doing the simple things the complex steps happen without having to think about them.

My profession and passion deal with understanding the complexities of people, cultures, and methodologies related to organizational alignment, strategic thinking, change management and improving the productivity of a successful organization. What I do is not rocket science (although it is brain surgery, to a great degree) and many of the CEOs I coach could do what I do.

But they don’t do what I do because it isn’t their passion. Or they just don’t have the time to read and study the materials and research that I spend my life devouring. So I do what I do and they do what they need to do and they learn to trust that my simple approach is based on the extensive study.

As a consultant I have a decision to make, and I am obligated to make it in the best interest of my client: do I try to teach them everything I know, or do I give them the simplified version and surround it with a context so they feel secure in doing what I suggest?

I developed a simple philosophy: Simple is sustainable.  I have seen it produce outstanding results for CEOs and organizations of every kind and size. I made a decision early in my consulting life that my clients would be more successful if they owned and implemented the right 60% of the complex process rather than me trying to force them to use 100% of the process. I found that pushing for 100% overwhelmed them and then they did nothing. But if I could feed it to them in simple but extraordinarily refined steps, they could achieve unrivaled success.

To be an Orange is to take an unconventional path that separates you from the Apples of the world who pursue the false sense of safety of conformity. Oranges see the world as it is, and not as they wish it to be.

A core Belief of an Orange is that “I am responsible for the outcomes of my actions.”

The Orange formula for success is simple: B-B-P:

Beliefs create the Behaviors that drive Performance

The Performance you are getting today is a direct result of the Behaviors that have become the comfortable habits that allow you to cruise through life without ever thinking about it.

Those normative Behaviors that are your trademark didn’t just appear one day. Like the translucent butterfly breaking out of a cocoon after beginning life as a lowly caterpillar, those defining markings and characteristics that define your sub-species were once Beliefs that matured into Behaviors.

But unlike the butterfly, you can change your markings and be anything you want to be. You just have to align your Behaviors with the Performance outcomes you desire.

So, to achieve more in life, to be more than you are, to fly farther and higher than you’ve ever flown, you have to evolve. You have to change. You have to achieve different outcomes. 

And the only way to get different outcomes is to establish new Beliefs that will create the Behaviors required to deliver the performance you need.


On the surface, it’s a fairly simple formula and concept. So, why doesn’t everyone just do it? Why don’t multitudes of people wake up every morning and declare they want a different life, or dictate to their subordinates that they want the company to reach new heights by the end of the year?

The simple answer is:


Sadly, the preponderance of people are in denial about their performance and how it directly defines the outcomes they are getting in their personal life and in their business.

They have convinced themselves that everybody else is the reason they are not as successful as they want to be. What if the other people would just do what’s right and fair, they would easily get the outcomes they wanted from life and business. They have convinced themselves that it’s just a horrible shame that other people are working against them so they can’t get what they are entitled to be given in life.

But that’s what denial is all about. In the language of everyday folks, denial is a self-imposed and self-absorbed state of mind that people retreat into to avoid the reality of the world. Denial allows them to become the Stephen Spielberg of movies of the mind. They can create any story they want and produce such a vivid mental picture that they convince their mind to believe anything they want.

Denial is the aphrodisiac of losers.

But to be fair to denial, it is a coping tool that God has given us humans so we can handle the tragedies of life. But like a $6,000 bottle of vintage wine, a little denial is great, but too much can cause a hangover of gigantic proportions, or even worse, continual use can lead to a life of alcoholism.

Just like the continual smell of alcohol on their breath, or the constant blackouts, or the weaving across all lanes of traffic when driving home from their favorite bar, the signs of too much alcohol are just as easy to detect as the signs of too much denial.


It’s easy (especially for me since I do this for a living) to know when a person or an entire organization is in denial.  They are just so damn obvious. They continually and unabashedly model one Performance outcome that is a sure sign of the Behavior of denial – they…


That’s right; they whine. They wine loudly. They whine often. They whine in public and in private. They whine at dinner and they whine at church. They whine in the board room and they whine in the hallways. They whine all the time, because that is what they have morphed into – whiners.

Like the alcoholic’s liver that eventually falls victim to alcohol abuse, the whiner’s brain eventually becomes consumed by too much denial, and the owner of the brain becomes possessed.

But unlike the deteriorated liver, the mind of a whiner can be regenerated and renewed. It can become vibrant and dynamic again. It can propel a person to achieve greatness as gracefully as a gazelle.

But sometimes the cure is ugly!


This book is more of a business book than it is a personal development guide. But it can be used for both. The truth is business performance is an outcome of personal Beliefs. In business, personal beliefs tend to be the normative Beliefs of the organization as a whole. 

Disgustingly, whining is as contagious as the Black plague and can consume an entire organization in a matter of months.

While there is an abundance of shrill whines in business, the business context tends to be more about conventional wisdom. Whines are the outward signs of inner denial. Conventional wisdom becomes a whine by executives making mindless decisions that don’t work and then blaming “they” for what “they said” would work.

Just like whines delude the mind, so does conventional wisdom.  Conventional wisdom makes people who fear blame more than failure feel totally secure in making decisions because they believe they can sidestep accountability since they didn’t come up with the solution, they just implemented it.

Subscribing to conventional wisdom is putting your mind on autopilot and blindly accepting yesterday’s simple solutions to today’s complex problems. Subscribing to conventional wisdom is understanding that just because it didn’t work once doesn’t mean it will not always work. And just because it didn’t work then doesn’t mean it won’t work now.

To me conventional wisdom is a deadly oxymoron. There is nothing conventional about wisdom. Wisdom is the essence of unconventional thinking!

But since one of the core strategies of being an Orange is to “out-smart ‘em not out-spend ‘em,” I have mixed emotional about conventional wisdom.

On one hand, I love it because the Apples of the world are notorious for using conventional wisdom to make decisions. Doing so makes them totally vulnerable to an Orange because they are just so damn predictable.

On the other hand, it drives me crazy to hear the cacophony of whines that fill the world when the Apples fail by using conventional wisdom, but whine about failure because they don’t think it’s fair.

(But on the third hand, I do make a pretty good living helping people stop whining and accept the consequences of their performance, and working with clients to avoid the traps of conventional wisdom!)


1. Life isn’t fair.

2. The customer is always right.

3. You need a burning platform to get people to change.

4. Our business is different

5. People fear change.

6. We don’t have enough time.

7. We don’t have any problems a lot of new business wouldn’t solve.

8. We just need to get back to doing what made us successful in the first place.