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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"I can't!"

As a wilderness experiential education facilitator I have always had a BIG issue with the term "I can't". I think that there is nothing more self-defeating then hearing yourself say "I can't." I have watched countless clients struggle on a rock face while they continually say I can't. Once I get them to start using a different term, like, "this is hard", amazingly they start to make some vertical progress.

That said, I have refused to allow my children to get into the habit of saying "I can't." I drill it into they heads that you can and will if you want to. Anyway, my youngest left me another one of her gems on the keyboard tonight. I think it is her reply to some one out there who has been telling her she can't. Here are her words of wisdom;

"You say I can't do anything, I say I can do something, I can be good at anything I put my mind to, so go bullie on yourself for being negative!!!" <--her use of exclamations I guess is like the old, so there.

I wonder about how many things we did not do because we told ourselves , I can't, before we even tried? There is a great story which I want to share, but I might muck it up a bit since it is from memory at the moment. This man (he has a real name, but I forgot it) goes to his upper level college, way hard math class. He arrives late and quietly sits down. He realizes that the teacher has already put two math problems up on a board for homework. He sits through the class and leaves. He does his homework with great challenge to say the least. He gets one of the problems finished but has difficulty finishing the second one. He turns in his homework the next class session and says nothing. The teacher comes to his dorm room and asked about the math problems. The student explains he had a hard time and that he felt bad not finishing the second problem of the home work. The teacher looks at the student and says those problems were not homework. They were examples of unsolveable math problems. You solved one and most of the second. The student said, if I had known they were unsolvable I would not have tried to do them.

I will search for the real story, but that story exemplifies the message I try to teach. Lose the "I can't" and let us just say it's hard.


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