Why you should ban the phrase “I can’t do that” from your vocabulary

With this article, our new sales colleague and passionate blogger Silviu wants to introduce himself. For this first meeting, he picked an entry from his personal blog, which is very important to him.

What do you mean you can’t do it?

Nowadays, I am a very gregarious and open person, which results in me constantly talking to many different people. One thing I’ve been noticing over the past few years is that people constantly limit themselves. One of the phrases I keep hearing from my conversation partners is “I can’t do that” or the variation “I couldn’t do that”, which for me amounts to pretty much the same thing.

I’m always disappointed at how small people make themselves with their words. When you utter one of the above sentences, you claim that you are not able to manage something. Please don’t get me wrong, there are two possible meanings of the phrase. There’s “I can’t do that because I haven’t learned it, don’t have any experience with it or don’t know enough about it” and then there’s “I can’t do that, because I’m simply not able to do or learn it”. Here, I will be talking about the second meaning, because it is the one that has the potential to keep you small.

How you see yourself decides whether you can do something or not

If somebody says to me that they can’t do something, my first reaction is always to ask them why not? This will show you this person’s view of themselves pretty quickly. Most people have a rather static self-image. That means they view their character and their skills as something absolute, something unchangeable. If you think that you cannot do something, will never be able to do it or simply would never manage it, then this will actually be the case. Your energy will follow what you focus on and this “mantra” will form your reality in a way that will, of course, confirm it. As I already described in my article on “emotion addiction” (only in German) on my personal blog, you don’t see the world as it is, you see it as you are.

So, why shouldn’t you be able to do something? If you can’t do it, you can learn it. Everyone has the ability to grow and learn – what matters is whether you are ready to spend the necessary time and energy in order to effect the desired change. Usually, it’s not about being able, it’s about being prepared to do the work.

You can do anything you want to

Here’s a simple example: When I decided to regain control over my life, I started an extra-occupational course to complete my ‘Matura’ (equivalent to A-levels / high school diploma). I got up every day at 5 in the morning and went to work all day and to school in the evening, never getting to bed before midnight. I did that for four years straight, after which, I decided to invest a further five years in my education, again extra-occupationally. This has resulted in me still working a 40-hour week and continuing to go to school almost every Friday and Saturday. Any free time I have, I spend studying or with my amazing wife.

Whenever I talk to someone about this, they usually say something like “wow, I couldn’t do that!” As always, my automatic reaction is to ask them why not. The answers I get are pretty interesting and sound something like this: “School’s not really for me”, “I don’t have the time to do that”, “I’m too stupid”, “I’ve never been good at studying” or “I have a family, so it’s not something I can do”. And my answer to that is always the same one as well: “If you think small, you will only achieve small things. Think big and bigger things will become achievable as well.” This is only one small example, but I hope you got the meaning behind it. I am not an extraordinary person or have an especially strong drive. I am simply ready to do the work necessary to achieve what I’ve set my mind to – just as well as 35 other people at my course wo sit at school with me every weekend and millions of other people who work every day on making their dreams a reality.

Why shouldn’t you be able to do it?

Nobody is too stupid for something, or unable to learn. We all just have to be prepared to do what is required to make it. Of course, it isn’t easy – if it were, everyone would be doing it. Self-discipline and perseverance are essential in order to learn something and in order to keep practising until you can really do it. Always ask yourself this: why shouldn’t I be able to do it? You want to be able to play the guitar as well as Jimmy Hendrix? You can do it! Provided you are prepared to practise as much and as intensely as he did. Whether you are willing to do that, is another question entirely.

Being able to do something isn’t really about ability at all, it is about how badly you want it. If you manage to develop an unbridled drive and the steadfast belief that you are going to achieve something, you will also be able to find the strength needed to gain the necessary knowledge and abilities.

Never say I can‘t

Ban these words from your vocabulary, stop telling yourself you can’t do things. You can to anything you want, if you really want to be able to do it. Saying you can’t do something only makes you feel small and limits your possibilities. In reality, you have all the possibilities in the world available to you – really, all of them. As I said, you (just) have to be prepared to invest the necessary energy. But that’s another story.

Use other words and phrases that don’t make you small. You could say, for example: “I don’t think it’s worth my time”, or “I don’t want to invest so much energy in this”, or simply “I don’t want to.” This way, you’re being honest with yourself and you stop limiting yourself. Because every person in our society has the possibility of being whatever they want to be, as well as to learn and achieve anything they want. And again, it’s not a question of ability but of wanting something so much that you are prepared to do whatever is necessary to reach your goal.


About the author

Silviu Homepage

Silviu’s passion is communication, which is why he is a perfect fit for our sales team. He is a classic optimist and his glass is always half full – his constant good mood can sometimes annoy others, but he doesn’t mind. Silviu is also nerdier than he looks. When it comes to the Marvel universe, Dragonball and One Piece, he’s our leading expert and still watches those regularly and with passion. Another one of his talents is remembering useless jokes. Some also call him “Silvipedia”, because they suspect that his hobby of choice is reading Wikipedia.