I always try to encourage people to believe that they can do anything. I rarely ask the opposite. So my thought for today is a question for each of you.
What can’t you do?
Now I know that all of us have things we’re not good at. For example, I can’t draw worth a lick. My stick figures revolt at the thought of this attempt. Another example of something I don’t do well is sing. Singing isn’t my forte. At When Words Collide last year, I got the opportunity to do some karaoke. I murdered a song by U2 and believe me I still haven’t found that tune that I’m needing for.
Those are limitations I came with. We all have those kinds of things. Now I can overcome these things. The secret to that is practice, practice, practice. Some things I will pick up quickly, while others I will still struggle with. Given enough time, I will pick the things I struggle with up too. If that is, I put the proper time into them. For now, my stick figures will revolt and it may be best Bono never hear my take on his song.
But there’s another can’t.
The can’t you listen to.
It’s that voice inside your head that thinks you can’t overcome the obstacle in front of you. This is the harder one to answer, and the one I’m putting to the question.
What do you believe you can’t do?
A lot of our limitations aren’t physical abilities but are the ones we put ourselves. Now they usually start with some kind of outside inference. I’ve been called crazy (I’ve embraced this one a bit), weird. One of my heroes actually called me the weirdest person he ever met. That still stings a bit coming from him.
Personal gripes aside, we all have those things. Some of us have them as trigger words. At least two people I know very well respond to the word stupid in near rage. I don’t need a psychiatrist to know that those people somewhere believe that.
That’s not cool. But it really makes me want to hear what those friends of mine say to themselves. Our mental voices reinforce our walls. If we tell ourselves we can’t do something, we’ll believe it, and not do it.
A lot of time, it’s an illusion.
I’ve written about this before, but if you haven’t read the blog in the past, one of my favorite stories about my dad was the time he took me to fanshawe dam in London Ontario. I remember we were walking along the stream when my dad just looked up.
“Josh, you want to climb that?”
I looked up. I really didn’t but I didn’t want to let my dad down so I nodded. Dad was with me at first, and we slowly started to scale upward. Shortly after we went up I remember slipping climbing and sliding back down the hill. I was at the bottom and I decided I didn’t want to try and scale up the hill.
Dad vaulted up the thing. My dad in his prime could do some incredible things and here was him just making the thing look easy. I had no choice but to try.
The whole time I went up the thing I said out loud “I can’t do it.” Every inch I bellowed this thing out.
I can’t do it.
I can’t do it.
Until I did it. I was so shocked. Somehow this thing that was impossible was not only possible, but I did it.
Can’t is a very dangerous box. We all have our limitations. None of us have all the skills in the world. I have a lot of limitations and things that don’t come to me as easily as it does to others. That doesn’t mean I can’t work on those things. With some effort, I will grow.
But I try not to tell myself I can’t do something. It doesn’t mean I will succeed, but it does mean that I won’t beat myself. Most things in life we want come down to what we can see ourselves going forward to. The more fantastic dreams can be yours.
Can’t is an illusion but a powerful one. It’s a box we build ourselves. And one we need to avoid doing to ourselves at all costs. Just imagine what you can accomplish if you change that voice from can’t, to can.