Remember The Ice- an important book by Bob Nicoli

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. August 10, 2016

Remember The Ice- an important book by Bob Nicoli

I was at the gas station the other day and needed a bag of ice for my cooler. The sign on the aluminum freezer bin was labeled in large flashy words, “Don’t Forget the Ice.”

These freezer bins are prevalent in my region and whenever I see one, it reminds of Bob Nicoli’s book, “Remember the Ice.” This book (and many other thought-provoking books) was recommended to me by my life coach, Debby Werthmann ( Thank you Debby!

Nicoli’s premise is that the words that we choose (the “clarity of our articulation”) play an important role in shaping our future.

The title of his book illustrates the power of the words we choose. In his book, Nicoli relates a story in which he recommended that a local merchant change the sign above the cash register from “Don’t Forget the Ice” to “Remember the Ice.” As a result, the merchant tripled the volume of ice sales.

The reason behind the increase in sales is that negative words reinforce the very action that we are trying to avoid. By saying “Don’t Forget the Ice” you are confusing the customers. The word “Don’t” and other negative words, inverts our sentences and make them mean the opposite. “It (the negative word) turns your message backward and inside out, inverts what you are saying so that your brain has the added task of translating words to make the sentence revert to its original meaning … the brain simply ignores or fails to register (the negative word).”

For example, when a person reads or hears “Don’t Forget the Ice,” his or her brain registers the thought “Forget the Ice.”

This notion goes well beyond marketing and advertising. Our choice of words – whether spoken aloud or thought internally – can empower or disempower us.

Bob Nicoli:

“One of the most common mistakes we make when we are trying to break old habits and develop new ones is that we constantly remind ourselves what not to do. Positive reinforcement is a much more productive and powerful way to inspire someone (including ourselves) to achieve.”

“.. remove your negative self-talk. Stop being verbally abusive to yourself.”

“The first step is to construct a vocabulary that supports (an) empowering mode of living to identify and eradicate the words that cause problems, simultaneously replacing them with language that is strong, clear and powerful.”

Here are some of Bob Nicoli’s disempowering words that we should avoid – even in our own private thoughts:

  • Not
  • Don’t
  • Won’t
  • Wouldn’t
  • Can’t
  • Couldn’t
  • Shouldn’t

How does this book relate to preventing falls in homes? The following is one of the many examples that Bob Nicoli provides to help us think in positive and self-empowering ways as we go through our daily living activities.

“… say you have done something that has caused you pain like hitting your head on the low ceiling as you descend a set of stairs. Your intention is to avoid repeating the experience the next time you go down to the basement. When you say to yourself, “I won’t do that again,” you are setting yourself up for another nasty knock on the head. Why? Because you have set up your sentence like this, “I will (negative inversion of what I want) do that again” but your brain registers, “I will do that again.”

If you would like to change your behavior and spare your head, give yourself clear instructions that your brain will glom onto. Tell yourself, “I will duck my head” while looking at or picturing the offending ceiling edge and see what happens.”

I practiced eliminating the disempowering words and replacing them with empowering ones a couple of summers ago. Unfortunately for those around me - especially my family - the experience was excruciating. When I began to speak, I deliberately reminded myself to avoid the words “not, couldn’t, shouldn’t, won’t and should.” I had been using these words for so many years that I found that they had become essential elements of most thoughts that I wished to express. I would start a sentence and stop in the middle. I had informed my adult daughters of the purpose of the exercise and they were kind enough to bear with me as I worked on the art of speaking with words that created clarity. This also meant that I had to think with clarity, too.

I have been successful in reframing my thoughts and the words that convey them. I now “remember the ice” and I “remember to duck my head.”

I hope that you will read Bob Nicoli’s book and that it will help you empower the way you think and talk.


Source: Bob Nicoli. “Remember the Ice … and Other Paradigm Shifts” 2008

Visit Bob’s website at

Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.

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