Sometimes a dose of reality is refreshing and recalibrating.

Out to dinner with a friend of mine the other night and in response to something I said I can’t do, she quickly interrupted me and remarked “No, you won’t do”.

(Um, excuse me, what…..?!?!)
I froze, fork in mid-air, and felt like I was slapped by one of my favorite memes: “Well if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions visiting me.”

She was of course correct. In reality, I was talking about something that I very well could do, but I knew I never would, had no desire to, and it would be a cold day in Florida before anyone ever saw me do it. So why even say “I can’t” when the reality is “I won’t”? 

Sometimes we have a habit of interchanging these words and concepts. When we do, we attempt to let ourselves off the hook and even excuse our lack of effort. 

I’ve had more than a few conversations where my Thought Partners will say something like:

  • “I’m not wired that way.”
  • “I can’t help myself, I have to ….”
  • “I’m just not good at that.”
  • “I’m too introverted to be able to ….”
  • “Well, my assessment even shows that…”

Typically I’m more respectful when I share my reflections about their statements, but maybe I should take a cue from my friend and simply say “No, you just won’t think about doing, or learning to do, or behaving differently.”

Even LEGO Minifigures change their faces, clothes, and appendages.
We can certainly be more adaptable than LEGO Minifigs.

The truth of the matter is, if you’re working with me, you’re intelligent. You can learn new skills. You can learn to speak in public. You can learn to keep your mouth closed more often – not every opinion has to be expressed on everything, all the time. You can learn to breathe before you speak so your prefrontal cortex can make use of the most oxygen possible. You can learn to ignore the bell; you don’t have to salivate, you’re not Pavlov’s dog.

There is a Viktor Frankl quote I use often when concluding presentations, “Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

It’s not easy to think and act in different ways. But we CAN do it. If we WILL.