Where do our ideas come from? Some believe that it’s a direct message from the universe or a higher power. It’s been said that any idea that has ever presented itself to us has the potential to become a reality and we are completely resourced and capable to make it happen. Isn’t that great news? That’s how people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Wright Brothers, and Bill Gates achieve so many things in life. They are the ones who make their ideas a reality and ultimately change the world!
The other ninety plus percent of the population receive an idea and automatically find reasons why they can’t achieve it. They validate it by some king of an excuse and move on with their life. What we fail to realize is that a single “I can’t” echoes that message to so many different parts of our life. When you say you can’t go on a trip that cost $1,500 because you currently don’t have the resources, you’re actually saying “I can’t” to everything which costs over $1,500. This simple “no” plants the seeds of many nos in the subconscious mind. The damage is tremendous and we don’t even realize it. We make the decision to say “YES” to that “NO” and before we know it, we made an agreement not to do so many other things that we truly want to accomplish.
Why is it so easy for us to look at our bank account or current financial situation and make life altering decisions based on how our finances look today? Instead of saying “I can’t” as a first response, why not try to think of ways that we would be able to? See, many of us accept our life as it is today and we box ourselves in. There is absolutely nothing that you or I have ever thought of doing which is truly impossible. Our mind is not creative enough to think or generate an idea that isn’t possible. If you believe in the fact that ideas are given to us by a higher power or the universe, then the fact that it’s possible is even truer. If we’re created in God’s image as beings with limitless potential, then there is no way that we should ever make an agreement with “I can’t.” Especially when the idea came to us and it’s something we really want to do.
As leaders, how often do we allow our people the easy way out? How often do we sympathize with a person who says they can’t do something? Better yet, how often do we allow ourselves off the hook as soon as a little voice in our head says “I can’t?” I actually noticed myself letting people “off the hook” easily from time to time as well. Sometimes I just don’t want to change someone’s mind and get into an awkward conversation, other times it’ laziness. It’s so much easier to accept the other person’s “I can’t” than it is to help them through it.
Personally I wake up every morning at 3:45am and I conduct my morning routine which involves thinking, writing, reading, and working out. I’ll share what my morning looks like at a different time. The reason I mentioned this is because very often people who I speak with say “I wish I could go to the gym that early, but I can’t.” That statement is usually followed by some form of an excuse that they made up for themselves to validate their “I can’t.” In a business setting I often meet with sales reps and similar conversations occur. If we’re speaking about their forecast, they become evasive because they know the deal they’re forecasting shouldn’t be forecastable or they say things like “I can’t call that prospect on Monday because no one likes to speak on the phone on Monday.” Sound familiar? Some of you are probably guilty of these made up excuses as well. Yet they seem completely real to you, don’t they?
My mistake was in trying to be “nice” and saying things like “oh, I understand, waking up early in the morning is not for everyone.” Or “I know how it is, I’m sure you’ll call when the time is right.” What I realize now is that I wasn’t being nice. I was being lazy and I was hurting their growth more than I was helping them! It’s much easier to sympathize with someone’s excuse just because we’d rather avoid an awkward conversation. Besides, that person already made up their mind and we have more important things to do than try to change it, right? What I’m describing is a terrible attitude for a leader to have. Your people deserve someone to motivate them and challenge them to achieve more. Take them to places they didn’t believe they could get to and then help them see the next level!
Whether we’re coaching, managing, leading, or being a parent, there is nothing nice about helping people agree to their limitations. When we say “I understand why you can’t…” that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re not being nice, we’re saying that everyone was created with limitless potential, except for you, and that we understand that you can’t do it, even though it’s been done thousands of times.
If you’re in a leadership role and you accept “I can’t” from the people you lead, perhaps you’re in the wrong role. Leaders have to develop their people, not help them limit themselves. If it seems like I’m being direct, I am! This topic is very troubling for me because I was that “nice” leader that let people get away from trying harder and thinking outside the box. I allowed them to give up as soon as they thought something was impossible because it was the easy thing to do and it made people like me more. I was foolish and if you’re making the same mistake, you can stop today! Keep people accountable and help them find one way that they can do something while they’re thinking of dozens of reasons they can’t.
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“Live your purpose”
The Goal Guide