"I can’t!", "I’m sorry, I don’t understand you?"

Our daughter Addy has finally found something that she really enjoys -gymnastics. As parents who both played sports and are both highly competitive we really struggle to not becoming the parents who force their kids to do something they don’t really enjoy. When Addy wanted to try gymnastics and she instantly loved it, we were so excited. I know very little about gymnastics except that I don’t think I could perform half the stuff they do.

Anyways, last Saturday as I was watching Addy I overheard a conversation a parent was having with the owner. I don’t know all the beginning conversation and it is irrelevant, but I am sure it had something to do with how to help her daughter learn to not fear making mistakes, giving up, hitting that plateau, etc.

The owner talked about how all kids go through this. He said something that has stuck with me since last Saturday.

He said that when kids get frustrated and become upset when they cannot perform a certain move they like to say, “I can’t do that!”

His response is always, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you?”

It is not that we CAN’T do something, but it is more that we have not practiced enough to acquire the needed skills to be able to perform. What a powerful message to send to little kids in his program. It is so true. He corrects every single child that says that. With the little kids he always makes them smile in his true to self way and tells them, “You CAN too!”, “Don’t say that, that is not true!”

He talked about how working on changing this mindset helps in everything we do – jobs, life, family, homework, etc. It is so true. So simple, so effective.

As adults we need to remember this. We often quit at first signs of struggle. We convince ourselves that something is just not possible. We don’t even give ourselves a chance to succeed. We all have those thoughts. We must learn to block that negative talk out and try.

I remember a year ago being hurt and not thinking I was capable of running half marathon, let alone a marathon. I finally erased those thoughts and ran my first marathon. This year I decided to try the sport of triathlon. I surely had much doubt and still have those thoughts from time to time. But, I went big. I signed up for a 70.3 Ironman. I knew that once I forked the money over it was go time. Our ambitions don’t have to be this large. Say you want to run your first 5K. You can do it. You just have to get yourself out the door. It is amazing how powerful our bodies our when we learn to turn our brains off. The body can do such powerful tasks when we eliminate negative self talk.

I don’t care how great of a gymnast Addy becomes. However, if she can learn the life skill of not believing in the I CAN’T statement than this is a great sport for her. Hearing this conversation further sold me on how important it is for our kids to be surrounded by other great people. Not only is he helping my daughter, but he reinforced me on my own journey in my training and other aspects of my life. I have surrounded myself around so many great people on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays that I feel I am light years ahead of where I would be without them.

My mantra of GETTING IT DONE! fights the notion of I CAN’T. By GETTING IT DONE! I become I CAN or I DID. What are you going to do to prove that YOU CAN?

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2 thoughts on “"I can’t!", "I’m sorry, I don’t understand you?"

  1. Great post! Nothing motivates me more than when people say, “He can’t”. I never hear it directly from the naysayers but I often get the message. I love proving that I CAN. I love proving it to myself more than anyone else. I am going to have a top 5 pro finish at a race this year…going to prove that I CAN. I’ve already seen it hundreds of times in my mind and you remember what author Denis Waitley says about the importance of being able to create something in your mind. When it’s been mentally rehearsed over and over again the body will take over and physically perform the mental imagery that has been rehearsed.