When I was a little kid, I thought I could do anything.
I’m not sure where this grand self-image came from. It probably had something to do with my parents. My mom was an accomplished physician, who moved to the United States by herself at age 25. My dad was a doctor too, and also a math and computer whiz. For some reason, I had the sense that when I was all grown-up, I would be able to accomplish anything I wanted to, anything at all.
Years passed, I grew up, and reality set in. As a young adult, I began to realize that there were lots of people out there who were smarter, wiser, stronger, and more capable than I. People who could outperform me no matter how hard I tried. Soon enough, I came to accept the fact that I was pretty limited, and that there were some things that I could never do.
For me, this was a useful lesson in humility. But somewhere along the way, losing that sense of power caused me to give up on a lot of things. If I wasn’t all capable, then I had an excuse not to do things. I wasn’t an adventurer, I wasn’t a writer, and I wasn’t an artist. I couldn’t do pull-ups or shoot a gun, I couldn’t camp outdoors for several days, carrying a heavy backpack – those things just weren’t in my skill set.
But one day, something shifted inside of me. I realized that if I stopped telling myself “I can’t” and changed that thought to, “I can if I work hard at it,” my reality would change.
Suddenly, I had power again. It wasn’t the naïve power of my youth, the belief that my dreams would come to me easily or automatically. It was a different kind of power. The power to reach goals outside of my skill set, the power to work hard to accomplish something, anything.
Seeing how this simple shift in my way of thinking has changed my life has made me a big believer in the power of “I can.”
Next time you catch yourself saying you can’t do something: like take a three-day hike, climb rock walls, adventure travel, or any other challenge, stop yourself. Whether it’s a physical ailment, a mental block, or something else that makes you feel incapable, change your rhetoric.
Ask yourself a different question: How can I?
Seeing your ability from this perspective will help you gain admittance to a world you never thought possible. It will allow you to take your own steps towards accomplishing dreams so that you can turn into someone who can.