I’m not in the “can’t” business

Recently at the end of a coaching session, a client asked me, “So, you aren’t going to tell me I’m crazy for wanting to do this?”

My answer was: “I’m not in the can’t business”.

I am not sure where that thought came from. But it has stuck with me the past days as something that is important to me. I know that she had been holding on to her career idea for a long time. She had probably told herself she was “crazy” enough times. She was probably convinced that I would reach the same conclusion.

But it never crossed my mind that she was overstepping.

What did I mean by that statement? What is the “can’t” business?

The can’t business tells you all of the reasons something won’t work. It says “you lack time, money, motivation, skills, experience”. It tells you others will think you are crazy. The can’t business shuts something down based on a gut feeling, an irrational reaction or an imagined frame of reality. You have probably heard that phrase, “the past is not an predictor of the future”. The can’t business believes the past defines the future. That is the way of saying why something can’t happen. Why “it” won’t work for that person.

So many of us are our biggest critic. We tell ourselves all the reasons why something won’t work. We bring up all of the old reasons that “prove” we won’t follow through on whatever endeavor we are considering. We conjure a story in our mind and then immediately formulate all the reasons it won’t work. We specialize in telling ourselves why not. We are really good at this!

This is not to say that every idea is a good one. Obviously, something illegal, against the law of physics (“I want to run a two-hour marathon”) or clearly infeasible after a short consideration (” I want to make $1,000,000 in my coaching business but only work part time”) are exceptions. I am not talking about those.

I am talking about the ideas for making your life more fulfilling. That desire to start a new business like this client. The goal to do something different with our life. The desire to travel or explore a hobby more deeply. These are all attainable. We all have some untapped potential. It may not be easy to achieve that dream job or life. The path may be steep and rocky. Getting to where we want to go may only yield another goal beyond the original.

But pursuing something meaningful is magical. The energy we get from striving is enormous. Being in the middle of doing what you love to do makes the days memorable.

So don’t let someone – especially yourself – be in the “can’t business” with you. Trust yourself that you will logically, critically, honestly know you are on the right track. Know that it will be hard. Know that there will be self-doubt. Know that there will be people questioning you. But know that the “can’t business” doesn’t predict the future. It knows less than you do.


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