Life is a series of challenges which we can answer in two ways: I can’t, or not yet.
I hope your answer is always: not yet.
When we fail, and fail repeatedly, we presume that we can’t master that which we are attempting. After all, there is evidence to prove that we can’t: failure. Repeated failure. So we stop trying. And that decision seals our fate.
I have heard leaders say this many times. So I ask them, “Why did you stop growing your organization?” They reply, “I can’t do it anymore. I already tried. I don’t know how.”
You may have heard of the famous social experiment involving monkeys that demonstrates this point. A pole was placed in a room, and at the end of it were several bananas. When they began climbing to get the bananas, a torrent of water would spray the monkeys. After a while they stopped trying to get the bananas. New monkeys were placed in the room, and when they tried to climb up to get the bananas, the ones who were there first, would pull them back down. Even when the water was turned off, the monkeys gave up pursuing what they wanted. They stopped trying.
And how about circus elephants? They are held in place by a lightweight chain tied to a small stake in the ground. How? This big beast has the power to uproot a large tree. The secret is, when the elephant is a baby, they tie it to a stake in the ground that cannot be removed. So it learns (incorrectly), that if there is a chain around its leg, there is no use trying.
What is it that ties you and me down in life? I can’t. I can’t at home. I can’t in relationships. I can’t in leadership. I can’t with God. I can’t find answers. I can’t get past the hurt. I can’t lose weight. Or, I can’t reach my dream.
Realistically, you can’t. That may be true. Maybe you have failed, perhaps repeatedly. So, I agree with you that you can’t. You can’t now. But that doesn’t have to mean you can’t forever. You just can’t yet. And that, my friend, is the secret to a life of discovery and possibilities.
What is it that is imprisoning you? What is it that is calling you? What is it that is hurting you? You may not have the power to prevail just yet. But don’t be like the monkey or the elephant. Don’t give up trying. Be willing to try new methods. Seek the help of others. Change. Grow. Then, try again.
Keep trying because it is not finished yet. You are not finished yet.
Regardless how hopeless the situation may seem, choose to reject the I can’t forever and replace it with not yet.
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