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I Believe I Can/’t

Following up on previous blog posts on questions, don’t be too concerned about questions that lead you to worry about what you can’t do. These thoughts will inevitably arise in you or in others. Get to the root of your belief; either you believe you can or you believe you can’t. If you are in the latter camp, look more deeply. Question that assumption. Never give up. You can change your beliefs, especially those in yourself!

Whenever you focus on limitations and about what you can’t do or have, it limits or derails your ability to create something new, better, greater. To a large degree, these are actually self-limiting beliefs. Yes, you read that correctly. They are limits you put on yourself! They are limits you choose to accept.

Turn the focus away from what you or they can’t do and toward what you can do. Whenever the thought “I can’t do that!” comes up, stop and ask, “So, what can I do?”

I often stop and mentally shift myself or my client 180 degrees, and ask, “What can I/you/we do?” When asked such a question, you will naturally seek an answer. The results are often surprising.

While working with a leader whose company was stuck from moving forward after zero growth for several years, he took to heart that it was useless to focus on what he and his people can’t do. After a few coaching sessions, he began to make the transition to turn off the can’ts and turn on the cans. He had been steeped in so many years of thinking and hearing what he couldn’t do that when he finally began asking what he could do and what his people could do, a major shift occurred in the company. Yes, there were still the naysayers, but the result of this small change in thinking became the turning point for the company. As they had more and more successes, they were able to put the company onto the growing and profitable course it is on today. Was it easy? No. But his persistence in learning to focus on the can instead of the can’t made all the difference in the world to the company.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”

The process behind refocusing the direction of your thoughts to what you can do is simple, yet the solution is not always easy. Take this one step at a time.

It’s well documented that your mind can only deal with one thought at a time. When we attempt to multi-task, such as thinking about what we can and can’t do, we switch back and forth between the can and the can’t, restricting the full use of our brain on one thing, and that can limit the quality of our thinking.

So once you’ve said you can’t do something, put that thought aside. Focus fully on the opposite—what you can do. When we choose to think about what we can do in a given situation, we focus our energy on creating what we want, and we move toward what we want.

I am not saying you should continue to ignore the current reality of a situation; however, what we perceive as reality is often incomplete anyway, and only a small part of the bigger whole. It’s safe to put it aside for a while.

For example, let’s say I did a lot of research on a specific car I wanted. I go to a car dealer and realize the price tag is more than I want to pay. I say to myself, “Wow, this car costs more than I want to spend. As much as I want it, I can’t justify spending that much money.” This is my reality at that point.

I can stand there and believe I can’t afford it and go away disappointed. Or perhaps, I can ask myself a question: “What do I really want?” and “What can I do?”

In researching the car, I’ve uncovered a great deal about what I want. I really like the styling, the leather interior, and the way the car handles and drives. On an emotional level, I have my “heart set” on this car. (Emotions, by the way, not logic, drive most of our buying decisions.)

Now, as I exit the showroom, feeling disheartened, I look over at a row of used cars. There I notice the same car—virtually identical but two years older. It’s even in the color I want!

I turn around and go back into the showroom and ask the salesperson, “How much is that diamond white car?” She gets the price for me, which is considerably less than the new car. It has very few miles on it, and it’s in excellent condition inside and out. It has every option I want and more. I begin to get excited again.

I usually purchase new cars and it seems a bit of a letdown. But it sure is a great car … and it’s one I can more easily afford.

This actually happened to me some years back. While a car should not be an impulse buy for most of us, it can be a very emotional purchase.

In my car-shopping experience, I shifted my perspective from that of wanting a new car to realizing there are some reliable used vehicles available, many like new, with excellent warranties. And the savings can be significant. That day, my range of choices widened considerably.

Adapted from the book Uncommon Sense by Bill Abbate www.billabbate.com

You can uncover more on this and other subjects in the book, Uncommon Sense, found on Amazon at: amazon.com/author/billabbate

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