I Want to Start a Movement: if ‘can’t’ means you ‘won’t’, then ‘can’ means you ‘will’

I grew up in a family that had a lot of expressions. Many perplexed me. I was a serious and curious child, so I listened intensely and pondered many of the sayings over and over.

My dad had an expression: “can’t’ means you ‘won’t’. I was in college before I let that one sink in. I can remember the context. I could whine really well as a child. I am sure my dad was starting some expectation, “You could do better on your next math test.” I said,” Dad, I can’t.” He would then faithfully reply, “Can’t means you won’t.”

In an earlier blog this year, I disclosed that I was preparing to run a marathon. I had decided that ‘can’ means I ‘will’. This was no easy achievement. I wondered on and off just what I was thinking. I am no spring chicken. You can guess my age pretty easily; I finished grad school 40 years ago. However, I had a plan, I had training, and I followed an evidence-based model. I had coaches and running partners, including one special one. I had support from home; my husband has run over 50 marathons. On November 18, I went the distance  – 26.2 miles!

I have gone other types of distances before too, and some of them are equally hard to believe. I led the closure of two sheltered workshops years before anyone suggested it. The participants and the staff were happier with the new options. No one lost their job or their services.

I challenge us all to consider the reality which we have created. Just what belief leads us to say we can’t? All around us are stories that should help us find the courage to decide we can. What do you imagine can’t happen, and can’t be done? How many times have you said, “They don’t get it – and they never will”?

Having a few positive affirmations in your head are helpful. So, pick one.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

If there is a will, there is a way.

 Be the change you want the world to see.

 I can means I will.

PS- Over the next few weeks, the blog will focus on words of the season: expectation, hope, joy, and light.