The other day, we went to a seminar with a number of clients, all business people. The speaker was very good: Everything he said was relevant; his jokes added to the content; his slides were never overdone, and his video snippets worked fine.

Straight after the talk, we asked our clients what they thought about the content. All agreed that the material was great, fantastically on-topic, absolutely relevant to their needs in business. The seminar was worth the investment in time and money and would result in improving their businesses.

We followed up a week or so later. Their reaction to the material was now more “Yes, well…”. None had implemented any of the ideas they had viewed as fantastic only a week before.

When it comes to lessons and seminars, there are many studies that show there is a loss of information over time. These studies link the material to sight, sound, kinesthetic, and suggest that, after a week about 20% of the material is retained. However, a little “sticks”. The main criterion for information adhering seems to be the amount the information is used over the period following the learning.

What happens to the rest of the information? After all, we humans have a very powerful ability to recall information, often long after the event. Our clients could, with a little prompting, remember the actual phrasing the speaker used, as well as the contents of some slides used in the presentation. They could even quote some of the humour.

We asked them to do a simple exercise, and we suggest that you try it, too: For a day, count the number of times you use the words “should” and “must”. The word “must” is often used in place of “should”.

You’ve just met the “Should-Weevil” and the “Must-Beetle”, its very close relative.

You have probably heard of a few types of weevils and beetles: boll weevils in cotton, flax weevils, rice and grain weevils, pantry weevils, and so on. They are nasty little beasties that destroy crops either in the field or in storage. They’re a major pest all round the world.

In the feedback at the seminar, all those “greats” and “fantastics” were generally prefaced by “should” – we “SHOULD” do this at our place, we “SHOULD” do that, we “SHOULD” use this technique, interspersed with a few “MUST” implement this, “MUST” use that, and so on. In other words, the “should-weevil” and must-beetle were already at work in their minds, destroying good ideas and real improvements before they can take effect.

With our clients and, we presume, other attendees, should-weevils and must-beetles were already eating away the intent to make use of the many great ideas from the seminar.
Have you ever noticed how often “should” and “must” precede naming an action we probably will not do, no matter how necessary the action is? How often are you using “should” and “must” in your daily life?

Maybe, just maybe, you are losing the real benefits of great ideas to the should-weevils and must-beetles running around your business.

Take a look at YOUR count of the “should”s and “must”s from a typical day. How many of them actually resulted in the action that “should” have been done? 100%? 90%? 50%? Less?

If your answer is less than 100%, then perhaps the “Should-Weevil” is getting you too!

Isn’t it time that you eliminated the should-weevil from your life and workplace?

Author's Bio: 

Peter & Roberta Budvietas have trained, mentored, established and worked with small businesses for over 30 years.

In another life, Peter was a systems analyst. He learned that when things were complicated, someone was lying. Since then Peter has applied the Keep It Simple then Simplify Process (KISTS) to deliver projects that work, on time and on budget.

Roberta applies the same principle to all her work including here speaking, training and consulting

Peter and Roberta write articles, ebooks and blogs and have published or been published several times. They have taught over 1000 businesses KISTS. For more information see