The Vortex of Can’t

I had the misfortune recently of sitting in on a meeting that was quickly swallowed up by the Vortex of Can’t. Everyone, not nearly everyone, I mean everyone, was discussing the things that they can’t do. This by the way was with a group of people who are paid to do what they can. 

 

After 45 minutes of listening to this I announced I was leaving the meeting. I suggested they invite me back to another meeting when they were ready to discuss what they could do. I haven’t heard anything from the group yet. 

 

I believe that success in any endeavor is about momentum. Momentum is actually pretty easy to build and that’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s also easy to build momentum in the wrong direction. 

 

Discussing all the things you can’t do in a planning meeting is building momentum in the wrong direction. 

 

The most successful people think in terms of what they can do while less successful people think in terms of what they can’t do. The difference in that thought process produces very different results. 

 

We are all faced from time to time with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We must never allow those obstacles to prevent us from overcoming all the obstacles that we CAN. The fact that we may see a challenge somewhere down the road must not stop us from beginning the journey. Many things can happen on the path to success. By the time you reach the roadblock it may be gone or you may have gained some knowledge or skills that make it possible to work your way around it. 

 

Never let the fact that you’re not yet certain how your success story will end stop you from beginning to write it.

 

Henry Ford said that “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” 

 

Success begins with a mindset of CAN, it’s not possible to simply think your way into success but you most certainly can think your way out of it. 


Focus on CAN and it will be far more likely that you actually will! 

The Bad Habit of Excuse Making

Making excuses is habit forming and it’s as destructive a habit as almost any habit you could have. If you’re working for someone who accepts your excuses then you’re working for someone who is doing you a tremendous disservice. 

 

If you’re a leader do not accept “can’t” from the people you influence. Rather help them turn their can’t into can by focusing on what is possible. Don’t allow the people who you claim to lead to use the fact that they can’t do it all, as an excuse to do less than they possibly can.

 

There is only so much time in a day and when it’s spent making excuses then it’s not invested in making progress. 

 

And speaking of time, that is the worst excuse of all, because no one in this world has more time than you. (Before you tell yourself that’s not true stop for a moment and think about it) You absolutely do not lack time, what you most likely lack is the ability to prioritize and the ability to distinguish between what’s merely urgent and what’s truly important.

 

People who lack these abilities usually end up doing the easy stuff that accomplishes little while finding excuses for not doing the more difficult things that can lead to greatness. They feel busy because they are doing “stuff” all day long but if they are honest with themselves at the end of the day they will realize that most of that “stuff” was just a distraction from what they actually should have been doing.

 

The real problem starts when you begin believing your own excuses. Take the “not enough time” excuse as an example… you feel pressured because you “can’t” get everything you want done when you want. You spend a great deal of time lamenting this “fact” rather than investing a few minutes to prioritize your activities to align them with your goals. You don’t accomplish what you want and you use that as proof that you don’t have enough time. 

 

You end up using one excuse to justify another excuse neither of which are valid. Breaking the bad habit of excuse making requires a tremendous amount of honesty….with yourself. It’s a tough habit to break and many people don’t try because the people around them accept their excuses. 

 

If that’s the case with you then I have some really basic advice for you. Just do something. Doing anything, even making a mistake, is better than doing nothing because a mistake can be fixed while it’s pretty hard to fix nothing. You don’t have to know where your path to success ends to start on your way; just do the next right thing and once you’ve done that then do it again and again.

 

Pretty soon you’ll see where you’re going and you’ll be able to develop a plan to get there even sooner.

 

When your mindset becomes one of “can’t” then you’ve virtually assured yourself that you won’t. When you convince yourself that you can’t or you have excuses prepared before you even try to succeed then you willingly sacrifice your potential for success.

 

I heard someone say that success comes in cans and failure comes in “can’ts”. I don’t recall who said it but I agree with them 100%!

 

Never let the fact that you can’t do it all prevent you from doing all that you can. When you start down that path of doing all that you can you may just discover that you can do a whole lot more than you ever thought possible. 

 

I understand that the “tone” of this post may feel a little harsh; accepting excuses in place of progress is even harsher. Don’t do that to yourself because odds are you are capable of so much more!

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately is More Than a Word

Unfortunately! It’s more than a word, it’s a signal. It’s a signal that whatever follows is sure to be bad. When you’re on the phone with a customer service representative the last thing you want to hear is the dreaded “unfortunately.” You know full well that shortly after unfortunately you’re going to hear the even more dreaded “can’t.”

 

Never tell someone what you can’t do, tell them what you can do. For example, if a friend asks you to help them move on Friday but you can only help them on Saturday then don’t say I can’t help on Friday but I can on Saturday. Just say you can help on Saturday. The psychological difference is huge.

 

“Can’t” gets burned into their memory… You become the person or company who can’t. We think differently about people who can’t and we certainly don’t buy from or do business with people who can’t. 

 

Think about every time you’ve heard the word unfortunately. How many times has it been followed with “you’ve won the lottery?” I’m betting not once!

 

There are a lot of words we would be better off just leaving out of our vocabulary; but, never, and always are just a few. Unfortunately is another one. 

 

Unfortunately is like chewing on an old dirty sock, it may not kill you but it sure leaves a bad taste in your mouth. 

 

If you are in any type of customer service role…I shouldn’t have to say this but somehow I fill compelled; if you are in business or work for a business, regardless of your title, role or job description, YOU DO HAVE A CUSTOMER SERVICE ROLE… do everything you can to avoid using the word unfortunately. 

 

No matter how positive the statement is that you make after using that unfortunate word it will seem like a negative to the person on the receiving end. 


Fortunately with a little forethought you can almost entirely eliminate unfortunately from your vocabulary.  Choices matter, even the choice of the words we use each day. Choose well!

What’s Really Impossible?

When I was a kid growing up I was a big fan of the television show Star Trek. Okay, so maybe my fascination with the show has lasted a little but beyond my kid years. I still like the show and the movies it spawned. 

One of the more amazing things about the TV series, the original Star Trek and it’s successors, is just how much of the science “fiction” turned out to be not impossible fiction but real technology that is actually in use today. 

Think about it.

In several episodes, we were amazed at the universal translator, which decoded what aliens said in real-time—and in the later shows, it was integrated into the communication badges (which explains why basically everyone, regardless of home planet, spoke English). Now, there’s an app for that. Voice Translator by TalirApps understands 71 languages (no Klingon yet, though). You speak in your native tongue and the app translates your phrase into another language. 

Lieutenant Commander Geordi Laforge used a tablet computer (what they called Personal Access Data Devices, or PADDs) to punch in coordinates for the next star system. Other Starfleet personnel used them to watch video and listen to music. Sounds a lot like an iPad to me. 

In the Star Trek universe, you can talk to a computer (voiced by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Trek creator Gene’s wife) in casual conversation. Today we use Apple’s Siri and Google Now, and while they aren’t fully developed yet, they are first steps toward technology like Star Trek’s computer, which has a complex understanding of context. Google even codenamed their voice-based service “Majel,” in honor of Barrett-Roddenberry.

Captain Kirk was pretty handy with a phaser, and he didn’t always set his to stun. We’ve been using something similar since the first Iraq War. Known as a dazzler, the directed-energy weapon sends a pulse of electromagnetic radiation to stop someone cold in their tracks.

I could keep going with more examples but I think you get my point. Most of that fiction on Star Trek was impossible right up until the moment it wasn’t.

So what is really impossible? 

Apparently nothing! At least not until every person living today, and every person who will live in the future agree that “it” is impossible. That’s a whole lotta people.

The lesson of Star Trek is simply; don’t let people tell you that “it” can’t be done. Don’t let other people limit your potential with their small thinking. Do what you think you can do and if you think you can’t do something think again. If someone else can do it then you can do it too. You only need a strong enough desire to make it so.

If no one else can do it then make yourself the first. Most of what we take for granted today was once considered impossible. It was impossible right up until the moment someone decided to make it possible.

Are you the person who will turn one of today’s “impossibles” into tomorrow’s “possible?” 

You are if you decide you are.

The Destructive Nature of Can’t

I remember reading one time that failure comes in can’ts and success comes in cans. That’s kind of clever but it’s also true. People with a predisposition of “I can’t” will have a much harder time finding success than those who have a predisposition of ”I can.”

Can’t is a limiting word. Can is a limitless word.

Less successful people focus on what they can’t do while the most successful people are focusing on what they can do. 

Can and can’t are just two words, little words at that, but which one you allow to dominate your vocabulary will go a long way towards determining your level of success. 

Make certain before you say that you can’t do something that you don’t really mean “I won’t.” Sadly, “I can’t” is an all too easy excuse for not making the effort required to succeed. Successful people have made a habit of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. Successful people don’t really like doing them either but they know their success depends on it so they do them anyway.

It’s pretty tough to just think your way into success but it’s very easy to think your way out of it…just think can’t. Once you decide you can, then and only then will you begin working on the “how” to succeed. 

When we decide that we can’t then we have no reason to try and failing to try is the straightest line to true failure. Never let that little “t” keep you from the future that you deserve if only you’re willing to try. 

You can… and now you know you can!

 

The Big Difference in a Small t

There are 26 letters in the English Alphabet. I use them all and I really would’t say I have a favorite. A good writer can combine those letters to inform people, inspire them, instigate action or maybe even make them laugh.

Depending upon how they are used these 26 letters can have huge impact on people’s lives. While I wouldn’t say I have a favorite letter I can say with certainty the one I like the least; it’s the letter t.

It’s actually just the lowercase t, as some call it, the small t. Truth be told it’s not really even the t, it’s just the t when an apostrophe (‘) is used before it. Even then it’s not so bad, it only gets really bad when the word “can” is used before the apostrophe.

Using can before t with an apostrophe between the n and the t turns the possible into the impossible. It turns positive people into negative people. It takes the hope of success through effort out of the realm of possibility, it limits people’s potential and their future. 

Yes, the small t can do all that.

If you let it. 

Nothing has more weight in determining whether you really can or can’t than your attitude. 

Saying “I can’t” becomes habit forming and it’s a hard habit to break. It wrecks your attitude. Pretty soon you’re convinced that you can’t do anything and you become stuck.

You may not be able to simply talk your way into success but many many people talk their way out of it everyday. Their “negative voice” does them in before they even had a chance to succeed. 

For many less successful people “can’t” simply means “won’t.” They tell themselves they can’t so they won’t have to try. They believe that “can’t” shields them from the risk of failure without realizing that “won’t” dooms them to the failure they so desperately hope to avoid.

If they would only remove the t from “can’t” and tell themselves they can then they just might. I’ve never met a person who couldn’t do more then they thought they could if only they would allow themselves to believe it. 

Believe! Rid your vocabulary of can’t and open up a world of possibilities. Don’t say “I can’t” instead say “How can I” or better yet, just say “I can.” 

Remember, you’re never more than one decision away from changing your life, choose can.

Is Your Life TBD?

Your life, at least everyday going forward is “to be determined.” The only question is, who will determine it. 

It’s a vital question. The answer likely determines both the level of your happiness and success. 

Here’s a few questions to help you become more aware of exactly who is determining your future:

Are you waiting for your life to happen? Do you wait for something to happen while successful people are making something happen? Are you waiting for your “big break” while successful people are making themselves a big break? Are you working hard or hardly working? Do you have goals and a plan? Do you go with the flow or create your own current?

One final question … Can you be honest enough with yourself to answer those questions truthfully?

No matter the circumstances surrounding your life, the economy, your education, where you live or where you grew up or your past experience, no matter what, your future will be determined by YOUR actions. Your actions are mostly determined by your attitude. Your attitude is completely your choice and by extension, so are your actions.

Even if a great opportunity does just “happen” along you still must have to courage to reach out and grab it, you must have to courage to take action.

Do you have an attitude of “can’t” or an attitude of “can?” When you hear yourself saying “I can’t” you best ask yourself one final question. Do you really mean “I won’t?”  I’d personally bet on the “I won’t” because the fact is, you almost certainly can.

There will always be excuses available to those who are willing to accept them but here’s another fact: the most successful people do not need excuses and they will not accept them when available. They simply outwork the need for excuses.

While hard work is good, hard work with goals and a plan is great. If you don’t have goals, true goals, then you reduce your chances of success ten-fold. The creation of goals leads to the development of the plans required to achieve them. In nearly every instance the lack of a plan leads directly to the lack of success.

If you’re blaming “them” or blaming “they” for your lack of success then think again. Until you accept responsibility for where you are you will never do what needs to be done to get yourself where you want to be. You and only you can put yourself somewhere else. When you accept the excuses available you surrender the awesome power of YOU! You allow other people and other stuff to determine your level of success and often, your level of happiness.

Bob Hope, the great American comedian and actor said: “I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.” That’s a great quote, I especially like the part where he says “I steered myself there.” You can do that too!

It’s unlikely that you would buy the car of your dreams and then only allow other people to drive it. Why let other people steer the course of your life with their excuses for you?

Step up this week and step out into the light of harsh reality. You may not like where you are but in all likelihood you put yourself there. You are the only person in the world who can put yourself somewhere else.

I’ve used the word success quite a bit in this post but so far I haven’t really defined what true success is. I won’t define it for you because I can’t. Never let anyone but YOU define your success or tell you if you are happy or not. YOUR success and happiness can only be defined by YOU. If others don’t believe you’re successful enough or happy enough that’s their problem not yours. 

If you’re happy with “where you are in life” then by all means stay there. If you’re not happy with where you are, then by any and all means possible, get moving in the direction of your dreams.

Start today!