Last week I had the privilege of being the “Mystery Reader” in my daughter’s 4th grade class. You submit 5 clues about yourself and the class tries to guess who the mystery reader is before you walk in to read to them. I thought clues 3-5 clues would be worth sharing with you today.
1. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania.
2. I was in an AT & T commercial when I was a college student.
3. I believe the most powerful thing on earth is your voice.
4. In 10th grade a teacher told me I was a terrible writer & presenter….
5. Now I make my living writing books & traveling the country speaking.
Before I read to the class we talked a bit about #3-5. With a little magic trick (the burning book) I explained to the class that our words are like fire: they have the ability to heal or to harm.
When I was in tenth grade my world history teacher, we’ll call him Bob (because that’s his real name) repeatedly told me “You’re a terrible writer and presenter. You can’t possibly succeed if you try to take US history course next year.”
I barely passed his class so based on my sophomore grades there was no evidence to contradict his prediction but I never believed I would be a failure. Long story short, I didn’t just survive US History my junior year. I thrived because I had a teacher who killed that word can’t.
I explained to my daughter’s class that they shouldn’t use the word can’t because it slams the door shut on their ability. It’s the same advice I have for you. When you tell yourself you can’t or when you listen to someone else tell you that you can’t, then you probably won’t. Words have the power to stop you dead in your tracks.
What inspired me to discuss this with them was hearing Eric Church’s new song Kill A Word. It’s about killing negative words. It’s also why the most powerful thing on earth is our voice, because to quote Church “you can’t unhear and you can’t unsay things.”
Do you use the word can’t, either directed at yourself or someone else?
“I can’t speak in public.”
“I can’t write a book.”
“You can’t make sales.”
Too many people take it to heart when someone like Bob tells them they can’t do something. Worse yet, they start to tell themselves they can’t do it and they believe it.
What you should do instead:
The only time you should use the word “can’t” is when you follow it up with the word “yet”. “I can’t give effective presentations YET.” “I can’t write research papers YET.”
If you add YET to the end of your statement it gives you an opportunity to improve. The next time you catch yourself saying you can’t do something, add that magic word YET.
We all need to believe even when there’s little to no evidence, it leaves the door open to improvement. And don’t ever let someone tell you you “can’t” achieve something… Kill that word!