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Aperio International

I Can’t

My daughter is one beautiful, spirited fireball of a young lady.

Since her first days of mobility, she was willing and eager to try anything new. Not only was she in constant search of new hurdles to traverse, but she actually seemed to love the process of practice and failure in the search for learning.

A voracious risk-taker, she would enthusiastically dive into virtually any opportunity to learn that intrigued her – building physical abilities in ballet, tennis, and gymnastics, exploring her creativity in art, fashion, and storytelling, learning to read, and, of course, using technology.

As she grew up, I began to notice the intrusion of the phrase “I can’t” into her vocabulary. These were not words often spoken or welcomed in our family or home.

As my mother used to regularly remind me, to say “I can’t is to say I won’t.” Obviously, this saying is not axiomatic, but there is a lot of truth in it.

So, the questions this generated in me were as follows. Just where was my daughter hearing and learning to use this self-limiting concept? How could we most effectively help her see the downside of embracing negativity without negatively impacting her love of trying out the new? Like ballet, fashion, and her other passions, trying new phrases on for size was an important aspect of her learning.

As we made our way through this process, I recall the many times I have heard members of key teams in legacy cultures now challenged by new economic and competitive realities make similar comments:

“That’ll never happen…” “Get real…” “Not the way we do things around here…” “Are you kidding…” “Our situation is so unique. We couldn’t possibly…”

Let’s face it. Language is important. Each word and phrase that we choose and use impacts ourselves, teammates, and others. When we begin conversations with “I can’t,” the outcome is certain.

Think about it.

Sandy Nelson