Kathy Murphy

What if the word “can’t” wasn’t in your vocabulary? Are you the type of person that when they hear this word this…oh yes I can! If so, consider yourself fortunate, as this is one of the words which derails dreams and keeps people from doing extraordinary things in their life. How do I know? Well, I’m one of the types of people who hit the “ignore” button when I hear this word.

Sure, there are reasons why when someone is told they “can’t” do something they automatically default to feeling dejected, but what if you didn’t hear this word, and instead heard “yes”, you can do that? Of course, there are things which would be absurd to tell someone they cannot do something, so I am qualifying this concept to apply to rationale actions and activities.

Think about the last time you heard someone tell you that you couldn’t do what you wanted to do, or needed their permission to do. How did it make you feel? Did you immediately give up and think there was no path forward? Or, did you immediately start thinking about what your Plan B, C, D, etc. would be? For those of you in the sales profession, you are much more accustomed to being able to hear the words no, and not always accept it as the final decision. You are trained to come back with other methods to hear the word “yes”, or essentially you can.

Since salespeople are trained to convince others their solution or pitch is the best option, can non-sales people learn how to take a page out of the salespersons playbook to hear “yes” or you can more often? Of course, you can! However, the question is do you really want to? Or, are you comfortable with more of the same, and not pushing into unchartered territory to really go after what you want?

I have often talked about how people in general are resistant to change. In fact, we are biologically programmed to be more conservative and risk adverse naturally to protect ourselves physically. However, this can also apply to mentally shielding ourselves from taking risk when we hear we can’t do something.

If someone granted you permission to live your life and operate in a professional environment sans the word “can’t”, what would be the first thing you do? Would you go back to your boss or team and have a different conversation from the last one which shut down your idea or request to do something? What would the impact of hearing “yes” you “can” do for you?

We know how impactful words can be. Especially harsh words. However, what if more of the words we heard expressed when we were pursuing something resulted in hearing exactly what we wanted to hear? Can you imagine being able to handle this? Are you smiling? You should be, because your professional scenario could be entirely different than it is now if “can’t” wasn’t a word your heard or had to react to.

So, what can you do to hear “can” or “yes” more often? Here are some suggestions to put to the test:

  1. Always have at a minimum a secondary plan in place, and assume your Plan A might not be accepted. Even if you think your Plan A is the best plan in the world, others might not see it that way.
  2. Consider whether what you are proposing is only self-serving, or whether you have thought about whether you are actually solving a problem or challenge or providing a better solution if there is an existing one.
  3. Do you really want to hear yes, or are you expecting to hear “no”, or “you can’t” do that? Often, we go into requesting what we want with a weak proposition, or one that is confusing and not verbally expressed in a way which could be misinterpreted negatively and would make it difficult to say yes to. Always be crystal clear.
  4. Practice your pitch or request if it is something you have to obtain the go ahead from another person or a group. Actors always rehearse before they perform in front of an audience, so you should too. Essentially you are putting on a performance, and you want it to get rave reviews.
  5. Are you conditioned not to go after what you want because you have heard “no” or “you can’t” so often? Make a list of the times you have heard no or your can’t. Categorize the responses into how much of an impact hearing a negative statement impacted your current professional or personal situation. Use a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest level of negative impact.
  6. Take a glance at how many 5’s you have heard. Be honest. Not all of the “no’s” or “cant’s” are going to be worthy of a 5 rating. However, some will be.
  7. Based on each of your categories or requests to hear a “yes”, did you give up after one attempt? Or, did you try two or three more times to receive a different answer? Consider J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. She is the perfect example of someone pursuing her plan until she received the response she was looking for. Do you have what it takes to be that persistent? It’s possible in some instances it’s going to take this type of tenacity to get the results you are after.

Circling back to my original concept of living in a world where “can’t” isn’t part of our vocabulary, can you now imagine based on having some suggestions that you might consider giving this mindset a try? I hope you do, as it can seriously be a game changer for the direction your career and life are headed. 

Think about the last time you received disappointing news or were disappointed by someone, something or yourself. Chances are the news put a damper on your day or spirits, and perhaps you continued to dwell on the disappointment, whether you wanted to or not.

Disappointments of any type are never fun to deal with, but how you handle them can be a game changer, literally. A fundamental thing to keep in mind when it comes to disappointments is that you have more control over them than you perhaps think you do. How is this possible? It’s possible because the way you deal with the news or situation is completely under your control, you simply have to embrace this fact.

Just about every day when I talk to people about how their day is going, I can sense when they are contending with something that happened to them which was less than desirable. Or, perhaps not the expected outcome they anticipated. Generally, if they are open to discussing what is on their mind, and it has to do with something negative, you can see a sense of relief on their face by discussing what is mentally beating them up.

Athletes are often very tough on themselves when something they did or that negatively happened to their team occurred. When this happens, I have seen them almost physically go into what I will refer to as neutral gear. My analogy of going into neutral gear isn’t the place they want to be, as it is a place where they get stuck, or park themselves into a place they cannot get out of. When this happens, they tend to lose focus, become less competitive than they normally are, and their performance is noticeably negatively impacted. This same thing can also happen to professionals in the workforce too.

So, how do I recommend to the athlete or professional person who is stuck in neutral gear how to get out of this gear and move onto first gear? Here are (5) things I teach them to do:

  1. Acknowledge the disappointment, but commit to moving on and not dwelling on it.
  2. Apply the 6-8-2 method used by many professional trainers and athletes. Breathe in for six seconds, breathe out for eight second and repeat this again. While doing this focus on what is disappointing you, and mentally tell yourself to release and move on from this thinking.
  3. Write down what you are disappointed about. Then write down one to two ways you can either deal with the disappointment, or turn the disappointment into a learning opportunity you can gain value from.
  4. Share your disappointment with someone else. Doing this allows you to release your mind from continuously thinking about the situation. By sharing your thinking about what has disappointed you, the listener also gains from the learning, and has a feedback opportunity. Their feedback might have some strong and valid suggestions on how to deal with your disappointment differently.
  5. Leverage the negative energy invested in your disappointment to fuel doing something better, or more positive for you or someone else.

I am not saying doing all five of the above things will magically make you feel better, but doing one or more of them will in fact allow you to move beyond your mind trapping you in neutral gear. In both work and sports, no one wants to be stuck in neutral gear, as you need to be continuously moving forward to make progress.

When you do not dwell on your disappointments, you will find that when they do occur, you will have developed the ability to make dealing with them much easier. Keep this in mind the next time disappointment strikes, and don’t let it get the best of you. You’re in control.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: My second book has been published! It is called                  Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer . This book and my first one Wisdom Whisperer are both available on Amazon. They make great gifts, and everyone needs a Mentor!