Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” While the statement seems almost too simple, this is a profoundly wise commentary on people in any culture at any time. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal for living every day life as well as accomplishing your dreams.
If you’ve spent any time with me or have heard me speak you know that the word ‘can’t’ is really the most frowned upon word that can be uttered in our house. My wife and I have a 7 year old and a 5 year old. I have watched them closely and it is fascinating to observe their body language when they use the word can’t: slumped shoulders, look of frustration and sadness, shuffling foot steps, etc. I’ll be honest with you, I believe their physical response matches the statement. If you believe you really cannot do something you would absolutely insane or a complete fool to try, wouldn’t you?
Usually my response when one of my children use the word is: “What can you say instead?” which they, in turn, respond with: “How can I?” Now, something amazing happens when my child asks this last question. Usually they are a little ticked off at me, but almost immediately they start moving toward their goal again with a spring in their step and a look of curiosity rather than defeat on their faces. The beauty is that when we make judgements on ourselves or others we are quitting, but when we are curious and ask the question: ‘How can I’, we are then able to do what we do best… learn and grow in our understanding of the world and the problems in the world.
Keep in mind that the human mind that has asked the question “how can I?” is the mind that has developed all comforts through technology that exist today! The reason you are reading these words on this screen right now is because many people asked a question rather than simply giving up. I’m willing to make a strong statement here… nobody has done anything of great value in this world with an ‘I can’t’ mindset! Not a single one. The difficulty with this statement is that reality is more complex, isn’t it? I have met few people who believe they cannot do anything in any way, shape, or form and in any realm of their lives. Typically we are on a continuum… but pay attention to the lives of those who have a defeatist mindset and I believe you will find that their lives aren’t very exciting. Pay attention to those who are curious and never give up and I’m sure you will be drawn toward these people and discover they are people who are successful in many ways.
Here is a challenge for you: Pay attention to the way people use the word “can’t” around you and include yourself. After this statement is uttered, pay attention to what a person does. I’m willing to bet that if you carefully observe yourself and those around you this terrifying four letter word will be banned in your home as well.