How many times have you said “I CAN’T”. How many times have you heard others say “I CAN’T”.
I believe that these two words used together should be banished from our vocabulary, as well as from our minds.
As a student of everyday learning, I will use a recent experience as an example. I know we’re not alone in what happens to us, and so many have experiences where they learned something that could be shared that can help another (see our book, www.IfIKnewthenbook.com).
My recent experience is a great illustration of the power of “CAN’T”.
I had wanted a motorcycle for the past 28 years. After a friend recently pass away at 48 years old (my age), I decided today was “someday”. Sometimes it takes something to occur to motivate us into action today instead of waiting for the someday. This was the tipping point.
I enrolled in a class, never before sitting in the driver’s seat of a motorcycle but on the back of my husband’s for all these years. I did pretty good driving, I thought, only falling over once due to operator error making a very small u-turn at a speed a turtle couldn’t even turn at. I actually did that a total of three times in three different instances – kind of just falling over, not really “dropping the bike”, at the slowest speed ever trying to make a u-turn. No big deal, I just picked it up, got back on, and continued to go cautiously slow and putt along.
On with the story…
So, now I have my permit, some skills education and a motorcycle that my husband and son drove 10 hours to pick up for me. It’s a cute little Suzuki Boulevard, 650cc, 352 pounds, small enough so I can put my feet comfortably on the ground when I stop, and powerful enough that I can drive on a main road. As a driver with a permit, a licensed motorcyclist has to be with you at all times and no more than ¼ mile away on the roads. Jim, my husband, who has been riding for 30 years, and my son Nick who has had his own motorcycle for the past two years, took me out that very night after returning home. I drove around a little in the local school’s parking lot, doing “o.k.” After practicing two other evenings, I decided I sucked driving the motorcycle because I couldn’t turn well. It seemed the more I drove around the parking lot, the worse I was doing. Straight was no problem, but the ability to turn just seemed to perplex me. I even watched YouTube Videos on how to ride a motorcycle and considered taking more classes. I felt more overwhelmed and unsure of my skill level than I had the first day that I had sat on one.
I woke up yesterday morning deciding “I CAN’T” turn well enough and that I was not sure I wanted to continue in this endeavor. Key words: I decided I CAN’T. Nevertheless, Jim decided we would go out driving again last night. I suited up (all the gear, all the time!), got on the bike and we drove to the junior high school parking lot 1/4 mile away from our home. We drove around the parking lot a few moments, and I stopped in the middle of the space stating that I had quit. I told Jim that I felt I just didn’t have the skills, that I didn’t feel the effort was worth it, that I was done with the endeavor and wanted to sell the motorcycle. He looked at me, said fine, and proceeded to drive out of the school driveway to what I believed was towards our home and our garage.
Instead, he made a right turn out of the parking lot. Remember the rules – I had to be within ¼ mile of him… I cursed a bit and was absolutely in disbelief that he did not turn towards our home, but I figured he would just be going to the one side street that also looped to our home. Nope. He kept going straight. I cursed a little bit more… but followed. He went around the very quiet back streets in our neighborhood, and I followed. He stopped and I pulled up along his side. “Feel better?” he asked, and, surprisingly, I did. He started driving again, and I followed. We crossed at a few stop signs where there were actual cars waiting for their turn, and I had to cross. After a little bit further, when he pulled over to check in again, he said we were going on the MAIN ROAD. I asked if he thought I was ready. He said he had life insurance if I was not – funny right?
He went. I followed. I made it.
I CAN. But I had let my mind believe I could not.
Allowing our minds to take over with a “CAN’T” can, and will, steal our confidence. For example, thoughts or verbalizing to others statements like, “I can’t get that job”, “I can’t do that task”, “I can’t pass that test”, “I can’t go to school”, “I can’t ___________” (fill in the blank).
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” His words ring true to many people every day.
Aside from this public testimonial that Jim is amazing and that I’m really glad I have been his partner for the past 31 years, it never ceases to amaze me what we can learn every day about ourselves and what we can achieve.
Later that night we talked about the experience and I thanked him again for what he did, his patience, and his belief that I could ride my motorcycle. I told him that I was in disbelief that he made that right turn; that I truly was heading home to our garage never to sit on that motorcycle again. He said it was a split decision, that at the school’s traffic light he realized what would happen and decided to make that right turn.
What a difference one little decision can make in our lives.
What decisions have you made? What can you do to break down a task or a goal or an objective that seems too large, or not possible, to make it possible? To achieve it? To conquer it?
Henry Ford is right… it is our mind and our “can’t” that we have to combat sometimes to turn around a situation where we feel defeated.
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It is Time to Play. www.TimetoPlay.com = It’s time to Enjoy Life. The Time to Play Foundation, Inc. is a not for profit corporation with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.