By Christine OKelly | September 28, 2007
The concept was simple, and only involved removing one word from my vocabulary and replacing it with another. But actually removing this one word from my vocabulary was more difficult than I imagined and led me to discover all kinds of things that I was hiding from my own self.
What I discovered when I replaced this word was that I gained 100% control over my life. The other fun thing that I found is that by being keenly aware of how others use this word, you can instantly read through their own doubts and insecurities about themselves and immediately realize where their priorities lie.
The One Word
The word that I almost completely removed from my vocabulary was “CAN’T” and the word I replaced it with was “WON’T.”
I’m telling you, this sounds so simple and perhaps inconsequential until you actually try it yourself.
Look at the difference in these two sentences:
“I can’t get enough leads to make enough sales.”
“I won’t get enough leads to make enough sales.”
The second statement begs the question – Well Why Not? Why won’t you get enough leads to make the sales you want to make? Not motivated enough? Not willing to do what it takes to get those leads? Don’t believe you can really be successful? Plenty of people CAN get enough leads to make enough sales, so it’s not a REAL can’t.
Some other things I used to tell myself were:
- I can’t buy that car
- I can’t take a vacation
- I can’t find a mentor
- I can’t figure out what it takes to be rich
You may find that you can in fact “buy that car” but may “choose not to” buy that car. This is much more empowering than you going around thinking that you CAN’T buy that car.
I’ve studied this phenomenon over the past 4-5 years and I’ve found that the more successful a person is, the less often they say the word can’t. Unsuccessful people use the word can’t constantly.
The measure I used to determine if something is really a “can’t” is this. If my family were being held hostage and the only way I could set them free was by doing this action, could I do it? 99.9% of the time, you could.
X-Ray Vision Into The Psyche of Others
The most exciting thing about being aware of can’t and won’t is that most people don’t know about it. Because of this, you can see right through the lies they tell themselves and you.
Warning – you may not want to call people out on this – I’ve tried it. People tend to get very defensive.
For example, my mom was telling me about how she “can’t” get over this relationship that has ended. I told her, of course you can, you just won’t – you choose not to get over it. Why won’t you get over it and move on? She freaked out, started yelling, and insisted that it really was impossible to get over it.
When the boss or your client tells you that they can’t pay you more, what they are saying is that they won’t pay you more. Kind of irritating when you think of it that way huh?
If they really valued what you were doing enough, they could figure out a way to pay you more. If they don’t value what you are providing enough, you need to ask yourself why.
I really, really hope that you try this. Start being highly aware of when you or other’s use the word “can’t.” Then repeat the sentence in your mind by replacing the word “can’t” with the word “won’t” and analyze this sentence.
Please share what you hear out in the world! I LOVE to hear about what people say they can’t do. Believe me, I am by no means free of critical self-talk so am not above this. But I find that hearing what other people say they can’t do is very empowering.
Have fun with this!
An Announcement! Congratulations to Lodewijkvdb! He is the proud owner of a copy of Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Work Week just for calling me out on my errors! (see contest previous post) Congrats!