I had a discussion today with an amazing woman I admire. She was frustrated about a seminar she wants to attend but “can’t” afford.
Can’t is a funny word. It’s dangerous and disempowering. It assumes the role of victim, as if something is impossible due to external circumstances. How often have you heard people say,
- I can’t access the funding.
- I can’t find the time to work on (fill in the blank).
- I can’t say no.
- I can’t learn that skill. (In other words… I’m not smart enough).
- I can’t afford to take that risk.
- I can’t address that with so and so.
In each of these statements, the person is basically self-prescribing incompetence, indecision, and willingness to give up, check out, & short change their experience.
The truth is: “I Can’t” is almost always a self-deception. A way to wiggle out, wimp out, & stay put. It also is never really true as there are very few things we genuinely “can’t” do.
Almost always, “I won’t” is the brutal reality. Which is great, because “I won’t” is a much more empowering position. It acknowledges the truth: I am not willing to do what it takes.
- I won’t do what it takes to access the funding.
- I won’t find the time to work on (fill in the blank).
- I won’t learn that skill. (I’m smart enough but I don’t want to work that hard).
- I won’t take that risk…
When we call it what it is: A lack of willingness to do what it takes – we suddenly have a choice. We can change our minds about our willingness to give more, do more, work harder, get creative, try again, work smarter, etc. When we say “I can’t,” that’s pretty much the end of it.
Challenge yourself today to choose your words carefully. See what happens if you replace your “I can’ts with “I won’t.”