The Weight of Repeated Words

Trent Hawthorne
3 min readNov 5, 2020


The basketball shot-matching game “H-O-R-S-E” was a family favorite at our house growing up. When I was on the letter “S” and had to make a shot to stay in the game, the same thing would happen every time.

My Mom: “What do Hawthornes love?”

Me: “Pressure.”

And then I would step up and take the shot.

I don’t know why or when it started. I just know my Mom started it, and it became our mantra. It was automatic — as much a rule of playing the game as any of the other rules.

That simple exchange around our driveway basketball goal had a huge impact on my life. Repeating the words over and over helped me to internalize the belief that I am comfortable having my back against the wall — and, after enough repetition, to even believe I thrived on it. I think it explains why I chose working in startups as my career path — the odds are always stacked against you in small, high-growth companies. You’re always one wrong move away from elimination.

I don’t know if my Mom created this mantra intentionally to build my self-confidence, but it doesn’t matter — the point is that words that get repeated often enough carry weight. They can shape lives. They can affect the trajectory of your business, influence the culture of your team, and reframe an entire outlook to a situation.

Use this “Repetition Tool” to tip the scale towards outcomes you want. Come up with an anchoring mantra to use in times of adversity, and then repeat it over and over.

Do the same for your company, your team, your family.

How will you know when it’s sinking in and the repetition is starting to do its magic? Easy — when people around you start making fun of you because of how much you’re saying it, you’re on the right path. And when you hear them say it back to you unprompted (which will happen), you know they’ve internalized it, and they believe it.

And now it can do its work for you.

Last week, as I prepared for an important meeting at Rabbu, I felt nerves creep in. A product I built was on display, and I knew I was going to be peppered with tough questions from very smart people. It wasn’t going to be easy, and the stakes were high. Without thinking, right before I logged into Zoom, a decades-old familiar question popped into my head.

What do Hawthornes love?

The mantra coached me, so my Mom didn’t have to.

Thanks, Mom.

Have a great week,


Published By

Hi, I’m Trent Hawthorne, founder of StandupPro and COO at . This newsletter has the most shareworthy thing on my mind, with some commentary on why I think it matters. Simple, but hopefully powerful — which is how I try to approach everything I do.

Originally published at



Trent Hawthorne

Builder of companies, high-performing business teams, & technology products. People Accelerator.