Lin Schussler Williams – 9 Little Words For Making Better Decisions

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Episode Description

In her work as a sales and transformational coach, Lin Schussler Williams has been helping people make better decisions for decades.

In this podcast episode she reveals the process she uses with her clients to help them get off the fence and start making better decisions. That simple process consists of three phrases to ask yourself which will help you create the results in your life that you truly want.  

Listen now to discover what those three phrases (or 9 little words) are and how they can change your life.

Show Notes

Lin Schussler-Williams is a Sales Coach, Author and Speaker.  For over 20 years, Lin has worked with individuals, groups, business owners and sales people, helping them build their dreams, accelerate their results, and create richer, more fulfilling lives.

Where to Connect with Lin
You can find Lin on her website at UPRising - Unstoppable Powerful Women, or in her Facebook Group, UPRising - Unstoppable Powerful Women   You can connect with Lin by clicking here. If you want to hear more from Lin check out her Podcast, Frequency 500.

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9 Little Words That Will Lead You to Make Better Decisions Now.


decision, people, clients, result, decide, coach, book, faith, karen, story, life, thinking, interrupt, words, big, tennis coach, shift, telling, change, talk


Karen Covy  00:03

Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decisions so that we can discover what keeps us stuck. And more importantly, how do we get unstuck so that we can make even tough decisions with confidence?

I'm Karen Covy, a divorce and decision coach as well as a recovering lawyer, mediator, arbitrator and collaborative divorce professional. I am here today with Lin Schussler-Williams. Lin is just an amazing, amazing woman. So, I'm going to give you a little bit of an intro, but I'm sure I won't do you justice. So, I leave it to you as well.

Lin is the author of 9 Little Words to Change Your Results. She is a certified transformational coach. She is a sales coach. She's also a marketer, a podcaster, an amazing networker. She holds just incredible events for women. She's from Louisville, Kentucky, and you're the only person I know in Louisville, Kentucky. I just love saying that word. So, Lin, thank you for being here.

Lin Schussler-Williams 01:07

Thank you, Karen, for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.

Karen Covy  01:11

Okay. So, did I miss anything? Is there anything you want to add? I mean, you've done so much that I can't capture it all in a minute or two. Anything I missed that’s big?

Lin Schussler-Williams 01:22

No. I'm thrilled that you got that much. You don't get to be this age and be in business this long without leaving stuff out.

Karen Covy  01:34

It makes you sound a little too old. I get it. Trust me, I get it.

So, let's dive in here. I want to start with your book. It's 9 Little Words to Change Your Results, and there is a whole chapter in this book on decision making. So, can you tell our audience a little bit about that?

Lin Schussler-Williams 01:54

Yeah. So, the 9 Little Words are a process any of us can use to do exactly what this podcast is about, get off the fence, change the result that you've been going down the path of over and over. Right? Those patterns.

There are three phrases to this process, and that's it. It's not nine things to remember, it's just three. I'm done doing things that make me work that hard. So, I'm all about, is it fun and easy? So, you come up with something that you want to change, some thought, some result in your life that you wish were different and you treat that thought with an up until now. So, the first phrase is ‘Up until now.’ So, up until now does a couple of things. It interrupts your old pattern of thinking. In three words, it says that's how it was, it's going to be different now, right? Up until now it's been this way implies it's going to be different. So, it interrupts that old pattern of thinking and lays down a new process.

The second phrase is, ‘I am willing.’ So, what are you willing to do to change it. For me, I'm a bullet point list maker from way back, Karen. So, for me, I'm willing is almost always a bullet point list of things I'm willing to do. It always includes how I'm willing to think differently.

The final phrase is the one that decision is in the final phrase is, ‘No matter what.’ So, no matter what engages our mental faculties of faith and decision. I don't mean faith like religious faith. I mean, the willingness to see a result, to believe in a result you can't see yet. Right? That's faith. And decision is a favorite topic of mine. I always go back to I remember Bob Proctor said one time, “Decision is a magical mental activity that can literally propel you down the road to success.” So, decision is firm and decision is about dedication. Decision means that we will result in confidence because we get confident when we make a decision and then we follow through with it and follow up with it. That experience builds our confidence. So, I love decision as a topic. When you told me that, I was like, “Oh.”

Karen Covy  04:41

Well, I am so excited. There is so much to unpack in what you just said. Let's see if we can start to take a piece by piece. So, with your first question, you said that the first question is designed to interrupt your pattern. It's like up until now. Why is interrupting your pattern, why does it matter?

Lin Schussler-Williams 05:02

Well, if you want a different result, you got to have a different way of thinking about it and acting on it. Right? It's that old saying about, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” So, we got to interrupt those old patterns. We got to interrupt those old stories we've been telling our heads. Until we do, it's really hard to make a change.

Karen Covy  05:26

Yeah. It sounds like that kind of presupposes that you're willing to make that change, that you're willing to interrupt that pattern, or none of this is going to work, right?

Lin Schussler-Williams 05:38

Well, that's right. That's why there's a whole little book around them, because there's always more to unpack. It's just not that easy as do this, do this, do this. But once you get a hold of it, you realize that those first three words up until now, people start using them, people will walk up to me and say, “You know, up until now,” like, it becomes a whole life of its own. When you really start using it, you realize the breadth of the things you've been holding on to and that have had a hold of your life because someone said it to you as a kid or whatever, or an experience. And that's the other thing, Karen about this. It isn't that those things aren't true for you. It isn't that those things aren't your experience. Of course, they are. That's how you got these repeated thought patterns was from some experience you had. So, it's just a matter of being willing. Then the second words make you declare your willingness.

Karen Covy  06:53

Yeah, absolutely. What I love about this is that it's a simple, it's not 500 steps or that you're trying to remember this 90-page checklist, right? Three simple little questions. I love the idea of a framework. I work a lot with frameworks and the work that I do, because it gives you structure. It gives you a way to think. I mean, that seems to be underlying all three of these questions is your willingness to think differently, your ability to interrupt the pattern of how you were thinking, and to make a change.

Lin Schussler-Williams 07:38

Let's talk about people who are in relationships that are ending. Your clients, right? That's a very common human experience for men and women. We see people get really stuck on a story, in that situation. I've been through that situation personally. So, I'm speaking from experience here. There are stories about that experience that we tell over and over and over until they're so stuck, they become part of who we are. And then we want to go on to another relationship that's healthier, another relationship that's happier but we're still telling these stories, right? So, that's a perfect example.

Karen, this book was designed for other coaches to use. There's a worksheet in the book, and I'm happy to give anybody my email address, and they can email me and I'll send them a PDF of it they can use with their clients. It's designed, like many other coaches besides me use this process with their clients, because it's widely applicable.

Karen Covy  08:58

Well, yeah. This sounds like it would apply to anything. I know your work is so broad. You do so many things, and this simple process could help, it sounds like, anybody in any situation to make a decision, because it kind of comes down to how do you think. It's a mindset thing as much as it is a decision making, it sounds like.

Lin Schussler-Williams 09:26

Well, it is but the key to the mindset shift is the decision at the end. That happens a lot too. People get a hold of this process and they love up until now because it feels good to interrupt that old pattern. You feel like you're really doing something. Sometimes they remember I am willing, but often they forget no matter what, which is really what seals the deal. It’s the decision to commit that seals the deal. It is broadly applicable. One of my favorite stories about 9 Letter Words is a good friend of mine is a professional tennis coach. He's coached, I don't know how many young people. Some of them may have even gone to Wimbledon. He's a big-time tennis coach. He uses this book with the young people that he coaches tennis. So, it's got a great application for athletes and people who are trying to change their results in that manner. Of course, athletes understand mindset, right? Any Olympic athlete will tell you, “You got to picture it done. It's how you think about it. What happens in your head happens on the field,” and all that sort of thing, right? But this tennis coach, his 9-year-old daughter, instead of grounding her, he told her, she had to write a book report. She chose 9 Little Words to change her results. So, there's a YouTube video out there of her doing her little video book report about 9 Little Words. So, even a nine-year-old can get this process.

Karen Covy  11:10

That is awesome. I'm going to have to go look up that video now, just because it's so cute. The other thing that it sounds like is a part of the decision making too, is the commitment. I always tell my clients, it's like you can decide anything you want to decide but if you don't take action to make your decision into a reality, if you don't commit to making it into reality, nothing happens.

Lin Schussler-Williams 11:42

Yeah, that's so true. I talk about in the book that decisions are three things. They are firm. They aren't wishy washy. I tell the story of if you decide to go to the grocery store, and you get in the car and drive and say, “It's me. I'll just make this about me.” It happened, okay? I drive up the street, and I'm on the way to the grocery store. And a neighbor is having a yard sale and they have a piece of furniture that we've been talking about wanting in our front hall, and there it sits. Now, I could have gone to the grocery store but I had not fully decided that that was important. I had not committed because I stopped a shot. I called my husband about the size. I went home and got a measuring tape. I measured it. I got it in the car, I took it home, and then I remembered, ‘Oh, yeah, I was thinking about going to the grocery store.’ Right? So, that is not decision. Although we say it that way all the time in our culture. We say, “Well, I decided to do this.” Well, you didn't really, did you? Otherwise, it would be done. So, decisions are firm. They involve dedication. You said commitment, dedication and conviction. Like we must be convicted to the result we want. Right?

Karen Covy  13:09

Yeah. I mean, it kind of brings to mind New Year's resolutions. Right? How many times have we decided, ‘Oh, I'm going to lose weight, quit smoking, go to the gym, do the work,’ whatever it is that you want to stop doing. You say you've made a decision, you made a resolution. Resolution implies decision and commitment. Well, it's February and like the New Year's resolutions are right out the window, right? Because they didn't have that level of commitment.

Talk a little bit more, I know you said faith to you. In this context, you're not talking about religious faith, but what's the role of faith in decision making?

Lin Schussler-Williams 13:51

So, faith is about the definition I'm using here is being willing to believe in a result you can't see yet. That's faith. Right? You could apply that to any kind of faith. It's the willingness to believe and act on a belief that you can't see any physical result about yet. And that is what allows you to decide for it. The word decide comes from a Latin root C-I-D-E, that's means to kill or cutaway like homicide, germicide, insecticide, all the cides, right? When we decide for one thing, we have cut away the possibility of anything else. I decided for this shirt today. So, the blue one became not a possibility. That’s the nature of decision. Faith says, ‘Well, I can't see II what's going to happen if I wear this shirt, but I'm going to decide for it anyway.’

Karen Covy  15:05

Yeah. That's so critical because a lot of people, they want something. They've decided they know they want something, whatever it is, could be the gray shirt instead of the blue shirt, but they're not willing to let go the blue shirt. It's the grass is greener, right? I want what I have, but I want that other thing, too. Or I want the other thing too, but I don't want to give up what I have. You can't have it all at the same time.

Lin Schussler-Williams 15:39

But do you want a different result than the one you've been getting? That's what I would come back and ask, right? If the result you've been getting is fine, there's nothing to change. But apparently not when we’re having this conversation, whatever it is, right?

Karen Covy  15:56

Yeah. 100%. You've just touched on something else that's a big part of any kind of decision. I mean, deciding for something, whatever that might be, implies change of some sort. People don't mind the word decision, but the word change, ooh, that one's here.

Lin Schussler-Williams 16:17

It's the only constant. The only constant in this world is change, right? It's guaranteed to happen one way or another. We might as well decide for the one we want.

Karen Covy  16:29

100%. That's the other thing too, implicit in making a decision. I mean, you can't decide to do or not do something unless you know what it is you want to do, or don't want to do. So, it implies also some sort of vision, and the ability to say, “Yeah, I see this, and I want this,” which is, again, it's that foundation of faith that you put faith in that you can do it but you got to know what you're trying to do.

Lin Schussler-Williams 17:02

Absolutely. I talk a lot about vision, and you just said one of the most important things. When you're trying to understand what you would love, what would light you up? It's often important to know what you don't want too. For many, many people getting to the point where they can say, “This is my vision. This is what I want to create in the world. This is what I would love. This would truly just light me up.” They have to have some understanding of the alternative. Right? By making that forward decision.

Karen Covy  17:41

Yeah. But isn't it also true, it has to go both ways. Just knowing what you don't want isn't enough. You’ve got to also be able to say, “This is what I do want.”

Lin Schussler-Williams 17:56

And have the faith to understand what will it look like, sound like, smell like, tastes like to be the person who is living that, that's faith. To see a vision in your mind's eye to say, “This is where I want to go. I have this vision of what I want to create in my life. And I'm going to decide for it even though I have no idea how. I have no idea what it will look like exactly. I'm willing to vision it, to imagine it.”

Albert Einstein talked about the power of our imagination is so much bigger and richer than knowledge and information, right? From someone who was a scientist.

Karen Covy  18:48

Yeah, especially today. Information is a Google search away for the most part. We're drowning in information but we're starving for wisdom. We’re starving for knowledge, and it's the ability to take that information again, and create what is the vision that I want. What do I want? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

What would you say to people because you've been a sales coach, you've worked with so many people over the years? What do you do when somebody says, “You know, I just don't know. I can't see it. I don't know what I want.”

Lin Schussler-Williams 19:32

Well, one of the things we do is talk about, let's make a list of what you don't want, and what's that leave, right? Let’s cut away all of that and then let's see the possibility. We also talk about what stories are you telling yourself about why you can't have what you want or why you don't know what you want. Because up until now, I just haven't been able to put my finger on what I want, but I'm willing to, and then there's a lot of things you can do. Creative brainstorming, journaling, having conversations with people who know me well and know my work, conversations with clients I've had before maybe or things like that about what value I bring to get inspired. And then commit to doing those things, and to being willing to shift how I'm thinking about the block of not knowing what I want, no matter what.

Karen Covy  20:35

That is so, so critical. I really hope people hear that. It comes down to the being willing to shift your thinking. And even if you come up against that block, and you're like, “I don't know. I just can't see it.” Some people, they have trouble visualizing. They can't visualize or they think they can't, right? That's fine as long as you are willing to shift the way you're thinking about that problem.

Lin Schussler-Williams 21:07

Right. Exactly. We just keep peeling the onion, right? And going back and going back and going back. And you can work this on one layer, and then the next layer, and then the next layer. Until you get to the point where you're lit up and excited about what you're about to create, even though you don't know how yet. That's where you want to go.

Karen Covy  21:29

Yeah. Whether we're talking about being lit up and excited about your job, your career, your business, your relationship, it's all the same. I see so many people who settle. Nothing lights them up anymore. And after a while, what they don't realize is that settling kills your soul.

Lin Schussler-Williams 21:56

Sometimes people do it because they're doing what they think they should do. The should thing is big in our society. I had a client one time who was a social worker, and she was brilliant, and compassionate and loving and wonderful. And she worked at a job that was sucking her soul. But she was doing what she thought she was called to do, because she felt this deep desire to help people.

So, we finally got to the story she was telling herself was that the only way she could help was in this particular role in social work that was sucking her soul. So, that was the story that she finally got to and up until now about. We finally got to the place where she said, “Up until now, my thought was, this is the only way to help. I'm willing to ask the question, how else can I help in a way that has huge impact in the world and feeds my soul? I am committed to asking that question until I get to the answer and doing the things to get me there talking to people, journaling, all the things, no matter what.”

Karen Covy  23:26

That is beautiful. That's what you're looking for is that shift in perception, this shift in mindset that opens you up to a new possibility. I know I see that with my clients. So many times, they're so stuck in the way of being that they've been for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, that they can't imagine doing it any other way or living any other lifestyle or with any other person. If that's the story you're telling yourself, I can only do it this way then deciding to do it a different way becomes kind of impossible.

Lin Schussler-Williams 24:13

Really hard. Are you sure you’re going to get there by yourself? I don't think, unless you have a tool that makes it easy for you that you're bought into. I've seen clients get to a place where they can do it more. Those are the people who come running up to me and say, “I had an up until now yesterday.” I always add to that, “I hope you followed it with an I am willing and a no matter what. Right? Like don't forget. Finish that so you can finish it.” It’s interesting to see. I mean, we all do it. I wrote this book and I still have things in my life that come up and I realized, ‘Good Lord, I've been thinking that for decades. Let's not do that anymore. I want to change that.’

Karen Covy  25:08

What you've said, that's so critical because we get so used to thinking the way we think that we don't even understand anything else is possible. We don't know that what we're telling ourselves is a story, we assume it's a fact. Right? So, often, that's the value that a coach brings, is that they can hold the mirror up and say to you, “Do you see the story you've been telling yourself so that you can start to see a different possibility?”

Lin Schussler-Williams 25:41

Yeah. That's so important, Karen. What you just said right there is so big. In the book, I quote an old friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Gary Simmons, and he said, “The people that I look up to and admire are mirrors to my own magnificence,” which is just the opposite of the feeling you just described. Right? What if instead of looking around and seeing in myself all the problems and looking at other people and comparing myself or feeling like I'm in competition, other coaches or people in the same industry, or whatever, instead of looking at people who are ahead of me and thinking, ‘Oh, I might never be Oprah, or whatever, instead of that, flipping that and recognizing that the people we look up to, we couldn't see that brilliance in them, if it weren't in us. If the possibility of it didn't live in us, we'd never recognize it. And that's just so big. I think especially people who are going through a time of loss and divorce is certainly a time of loss, it is a grief trigger for most people who go through it. We have to remember our worthiness. We have to stand up and say, “I have a light that's wanting to shine through me. It makes me worthy just by being here. I might not have all the answers to it. I may not have all the ways that I can show up as who have come here to be at my best, but I am willing to undo those old stories and go for it no matter what.

Karen Covy  27:46

I love that reframe. That is absolutely beautiful because so many people, it goes back to the faith, they don't think they can do it. They don't think they're worthy of having the love they want or the relationship they want, the marriage they want, the career, the business, fill in the blank, right? So, you end up living a life that's good enough.

Lin Schussler-Williams

Settling, they do that.

Karen Covy

Is that the kind of life you really want to live? At least as far as we know, we only get one shot, right?

Lin Schussler-Williams 28:26

There's another favorite quote of mine, you made me think of just now, Howard Thurman said, “Don't ask what the world needs and do that. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is more people who've come alive.” Settling doesn't serve anybody. It certainly doesn't serve your life. It doesn't serve the rest of us either. The gift each one of us has to give to the world is showing up as our best self in whatever pond we're swimming in. Right?

Karen Covy  29:03

Yeah. 100%. I couldn't agree with you more. But again, it also comes back full circle to the idea of change. To be your best self, you've got to be willing to put yourself out there and that's scary, because that involves change, that involves letting go of the old stories of who you were and why that wouldn't work or would work or what have you. It's all part of it. It all comes down to these three questions, which I just love. I think this is the coolest framework ever.

Lin Schussler-Williams 29:40

Let me just say that I learned it all from other sources. I've been a student of this stuff for 40-ish years. I learned a lot from other people and this just happens to be the way it gelled for me. I'm super grateful to all of my mentors and teachers and the people who wrote personal development books and gave talks and all the things I've attended for all these years.

Karen Covy  30:14

Yeah, I'm still with you. What do they say about standing on the shoulders of giants?

Lin Schussler-Williams


Karen Covy

That's the only way that I have gotten to where I'm at and really any of us. The idea that you're going to be the first person on the planet that's ever done something like this is like, yeah, I don't think so.

Lin Schussler-Williams 30:33

No, I don't think so either.

Karen Covy  30:37

So, let's shift gears, just a touch now. I’m going to put you on the spot and say can you give our listeners an example of one of the hardest, most difficult decisions that you've had to make over the years, whether it's business or personal, but something that really made you go, hmmm?

Lin Schussler-Williams 30:57

Okay. So, first, I want to say that I don't believe they have to be hard. I don't believe that making decisions has to be hard. I don't believe that making big choices for change has to be hard. I'm just not willing to sign up for stuff being hard. I want life to be easier. I want business to be easier and fun. And that's what I'm signing up for. So, the decision story I'm going to tell you is interesting, because I tend to be a just bottom line it for me and make a decision and go kind of person. There are a lot of different types of just like people learn differently. There are visual learners and there are audio. Well, there are different ways of making decisions, different personalities. Some people have to process forever before they make a decision. That's not me. I know and I do it. And that's the end of it. I had a sales career in corporate America in telecom and technology fields, and it was awful. It was merger after merger and the sales department was always the one that got the short end of the stick or was duplicated and so half of them got let go or whatever. I'd been through years of that and I just had it. I was really good at what I did. I had a month where I was 150 something percent of quota. Nobody in that office had ever done that. And at a time when we were in the midst of this awful merger, and it was really hard. I walked into my boss's office the first day of the next month. And he looked up from his desk barely, and said, “Hey, what do you got for me this month?” And it was just that moment. I was like, “Not a damn thing.” I did not know. I hadn't told my husband I was walking away from my corporate career that day. I hadn't told myself. But I knew in that moment that if I played that game one minute longer, it would not serve me for the rest of my life. And so, he said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Well, apparently, I'm done.” And that was my last day of employment ever.

Karen Covy  33:35

That wasn't premeditated? You just walked in there.

Lin Schussler-Williams 33:39

I don't recommend that to my clients, just so you know. That's not for everyone. It's not like your wisest way to go always unless your inner guidance, your intuition, your knowingness says to you, “This is it.” And you just know, and that's what it was for me. Decision for me is often that way. Again, doesn't have to be that way for anyone else. That was kind of a life changer right there. It was the best decision I ever could have made. Yes, 100% It was. I walked out of this office thinking, ‘Oh my God, what did I just do?’ But that didn't last very long.

Karen Covy  34:37

No, and look at you. I mean, you've got a thriving business as an entrepreneur. I mean, you haven't even missed a beat.

Lin Schussler-Williams 34:48

I do my best not to.

Karen Covy

It turned out well.

Lin Schussler-Williams

Yeah, it definitely turned out well. When I think of what would have happened to me if I had stayed just no, I'd probably have gotten a chronic illness or like it just would not have served my life.

Karen Covy  35:07

Yeah. That goes back to what we're talking about this soul sucking. That's the real challenge. After you've lived with good enough or long enough, your life starts to fall apart in a variety of different ways. Your health falls apart, everything takes a hit and you can't really see the connection, but there's a connection. I could talk to you forever and forever. I'm going to have to have you back on the show to talk about the role of intuition and your gut in making decisions, because that's something that is really, really important, too. And how do you distinguish what's really your gut or your intuition talking to you? And what's just your subconscious going, ‘I'm freaked out. I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared.’ There’s a big difference between that, but that will be our topic for another time.

Lin Schussler-Williams

I look forward to it.

Karen Covy

For now, can you just tell our listeners where they can find you?

Lin Schussler-Williams 36:10

So, one thing I really want them to find is a podcast that only has three episodes on it so far. It's a brand-new podcast that I'm doing with my good friend and business partner, Brooke Haynes, and it's called Frequency500, the number 5-0-0. And they can find it at It's all about living at that higher vibration. It's all about finding that flow in your life and doing the good for the world because you're doing the good for yourself. So, a lot of what we've talked about today, they'll hear echoed there.

Karen Covy  36:49

That’s really awesome. I hope people go to Frequency500 and find you. Also, for those of you who have been listening, if you liked this episode, if you like what you're hearing, please like, please subscribe, and we will come back next time. We will come back next time for another episode of Off the Fence. Bye for now.

Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


business, decision-making, mindset, personal development

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