Avoid saying “can’t” in life. The word “can’t” indicates a mental constraint. Once we begin to notice it, the “can’t” mentality is everywhere.

People who constantly have “can’t” in their vocabularies are boxed in, fearful, and uncertain. They have fixed mindsets instead of growth mindsets, according to psychologist Carol Dweck.

Here are five ways to confront the “can’t” mentality in yourself, your kids, and your organization.

1) Know the Difference Between Can’t and Won’t

Clarifying the difference between “can’t do” and “won’t do” will inspire you to think about priorities in life. While doing many things are possible, not everything will fit into your priorities.

This is especially helpful for kids. Choosing to not do something for a good reason is fine. The trouble starts when you start believing you “can’t” do something.

Your organization may choose not to accomplish something that takes too much energy or doesn’t align with priorities.

2) Show Unsinkable Optimism

Enthusiasm and optimism are incredible gifts. Our attitudes make an impact on the lives of kids, team members, and ourselves. Even in times when the going gets tough (which it will at some point), we can look for the good in our situations and consider what we are learning.

As Winston Churchill said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”

3) Choose a Can-Do Attitude

A can-do attitude is attractive, inspiring, and often rewarded. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything; it means you are willing to step in and make something happen.

Your attitude can encourage the team to move ahead. People want to be around people who believe the best can happen and strive toward it.

4) Listen Selectively

Avoid listening to critics who say you can’t. Did the bumblebee listen when told he wasn’t scientifically able to fly?

Instead, listen to those who believe the best. Let the people who say “you can’t” motivate you to prove them wrong.

I like this old Chinese proverb: People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

5) Overcome Fear

Overcome the fear of taking a leap.

Every time you say, “I can’t,” you add stone until you have built a stout and sturdy wall of fear. The best way to break down that barrier is to go ahead and do that thing you fear.

Overcome fear so you can live courageously with a “can do” mindset!

This concept came from the book, The 108 Skills Of Natural Born Leaders by Warren Blank.

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