I was teaching a class and everything was going just fine and then I heard it. It's the one word, or in this case two words, that send goose bumps up my spine and make me very uncomfortable in a big hurry. The words: I CAN'T.
Can't is bad enough by itself but when a person attaches the word I and makes the statement personal to them and them alone then it really carries a double whammy.
The word can't and the belief that goes with it is a powerful enough negative without any other reinforcement. When a person attaches the word I to it and does it on a regular basis then it becomes even more powerfully destructive to that person's personal belief system.
So I did what I thought was right and stopped the class and brought these young people in for a little mental reprogramming. I started out by explaining to them that the word can't, for the most part, should be banned from the English language. There may be a few situations in everyday life where the word applies but it certainly should not be used in the field of human achievement and belief.
I explained to the kids that our minds and our confidence in ourselves are built much like a house is built, one step at a time. We are in charge of the steps we take and what materials that we use to build our house. It's important that we choose very carefully what materials we choose to build this house.
Like a house any materials that might take away from the overall strength and beauty of the house must not be allowed into the construction project. I talked to the kids about the idea that if one gets in the habit of telling oneself “I can't" enough times that “I can't" will soon become your reality.
So instead of putting ourselves down and bringing a defeatist attitude to the project I suggested that we instead say “I'll try" or “I may not be able to do it now, but I think that I can get better at it. " It's really not the situation that we encounter but many times it's how we react to the situation that means the difference between success and failure.
As teachers and parents we are responsible for putting the beliefs into the heads of our children that can help them believe in their abilities. At some times it can be more difficult than others but many times it can be as simple as teaching them how to put the right words into their heads. Words are power. Choose them well.
You'll always get better if you give it a shot, Fred Nicklaus
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