I Can’t: Two Words Never to Say to Yourself

Can or Can't

Your Choice: Can or Can’t

Why Never Say “I Can’t?” Because It Matters

If you are looking for a reason that you are not achieving the results you want, listen for how many times the words “I can’t” come out of your mouth. “I can’t” is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language for doing nothing productive. It is the most self-defeating phrase I know. People who say “I can’t” a lot, do nothing to create positive change, and thus, have nothing but the same thing they have always had.

Count How Many Times You Say Them

Count how many times you say the words “I can’t.” If you want to challenge yourself further, count how many times you think of doing something differently, and you think the words “I can’t.” Thinking and saying this counterproductive phrase makes you ineffective, if not paralyzed by your words. If you say it a lot, people will avoid you and know that they will not count on you because you can’t count on yourself. Saying “I can’t” repeatedly is debilitating at best.

What Are You Truly Saying?

When you automatically reply with this phrase, have you ever thought about what you are truly saying? You’re giving up before you weigh all your options about whether or not you can do a task or not. You’re in Auto-Surrender mode. You will never get anything accomplished of any new value because you give up too early.

Count How Many Times You Hear Them

Consider your environment. Your environment can propel you forward or hold you back. It can also serve as one of your biggest excuses. Listen carefully to other people and count how many times you hear your friends, your co-workers, and your family members say, “I can’t.” Whether you know it or not, these chance words that you hear throughout the day influence you. The more you hear people you respect say “I can’t,” the more you will emulate them and say it yourself. Maybe you associate with people who “can’t” and you become just like them. While changing other people is difficult at the least, you can become aware of how others are using this phrase. You can also limit the amount of time you are around these negative-minded people.

Substitute A Different Phrase

Instead of automatically surrendering anytime a challenge seems insurmountable, choose a different phrase such as “I can.” You will be surprised about how this simple adjustment will empower you to do new activities. If it is something you don’t want to do, say, “I’ll consider it.” The ball is then in your court as whether you want to do this instead of whether or not you can do the activity.

Ban “I Can’t” From Your Vocabulary

The next challenge is to ban these words from your vocabulary. The question then becomes, do you want to feel empowered or wallow in self-inflicted victimhood? The choice is yours. Your self-talk can help you succeed and live the life you want, or it can lead you to a life of victimhood and poverty. What you say to yourself repeatedly matters. It will decide how your life turns out. If you truly want to do something different with our life, never say these two words again and don’t tolerate others saying them in your presence.


Is it “THE” economy or “YOUR” economy?

Economy fallingOne of the biggest excuses for lack of success is this thing called the “economy.” Turn on the news and they talk about the financial markets and whether or not the economy is booming or not. Most people don’t even know what this thing is. They just know that it’s big, and the television tells them that it is working against the general populace. The media’s portrayal of “the economy” is that the outcome of people’s lives is not their fault. It’s the economy’s fault. When times get tough, the news anchors also start using another word “recession.” Most people fear the economy because they don’t understand economics. Here is a crash course in economics, my take on why you shouldn’t fear the economy, and why your life is still your responsibility.

Economy: the process or system by which goods and services are produced, sold, and bought in a country or region.”

My First Recession as an Adult

I began my business career in 1989. I started my first business and promptly failed. After all, my education was in nuclear power plant operation, not the subject of business. It’s no wonder I failed. I had no idea what I was doing. I determined that I lacked sales experience and sales knowledge, so I got a job in sales. I knew that my job was to convince people who came into our jewelry store to buy jewelry. I did very well, and the company transferred me to my store in Meridian, MS. I had great visions of success and advancing through the company ranks. Then, Operation Desert Shield turned into Desert Storm, and the Recession of 1990-91 began. My stores sales plummeted. The stores sales for Q1 1991 was less than Christmas Eve 1990. Stores all around me started closing. I lost my job in June 1991, and my store closed about a year later. I moved my family to Birmingham, AL and got a job in car sales. Again, things did not work out, and I lost that job too. Other people told me that the economy did this to me. They also told me that it was the economy’s purpose to keep me poor, which is totally false.

My Second Recession

A little later in 2000, I was waiting tables in Birmingham and starting my promotional products business with the backing of a company in another state. I built my website and was waiting for my sales to shoot through the roof, and transport me to the financial success I desired. The stock markets started to falter, and the next recession was beginning. The dot-com bubble was bursting. News agencies started saying the Recession of 2001 in March of 2000. I lost my business, crashed my life and it was the recession’s fault, so I thought.

I moved to South Florida to become a commodities and currencies options and futures broker, failed and struggled through some difficult times. I noticed that the economy was picking up according to the media and government statistics. My economy did not improve. People were buying cars. People were buying houses, and they were buying a lot of houses. I got not one job, but two jobs and started working 80-90 hours a week to improve MY economy. When the real estate market started to falter in Palm Beach County, Florida, I moved to the big city of Atlanta, GA to make sure I lived in a place with enough economic activity to allow me to support myself.

The “Great Financial Crisis”

Then came the “Great Financial Crisis of 2007-9.” According to the media, the entire world economy was going to stop, we were going to have to all go back to farming, and blah, blah, blah. The media said that this would be the largest contraction since the Great Depression. Family legend says that my grandfather hoboed on freight trains to look for work and played pool for money. I decided I was not going to let this recession destroy my life.

I worked harder than I ever did before. I managed my money properly. I stopped drinking in bars and later stopped drinking altogether. I kept my priorities on starting my business more than ever. I did not lose my job until 2010, and when I did, I found another job. The recession didn’t take me out. The economy was no longer something I feared, but something in which I must learn to thrive. I also realized how the wrong information was holding me back all those years.

Here is the definition of a recession:

Recession: The technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP); although the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) does not necessarily need to see this occur to call a recession.”

Grant Cardone points this out in one of his books. The definition of a recession revolves around the Gross Domestic Product of a country. People can’t have recessions. Only countries or other regions defined either by geographic or governmental standards can have recessions. Therefore, you can’t participate in a recession. You can only allow the media to convince you to work less. Then, your personal income declines and you are a victim.

Something else I learned is that when I worked harder to get results, I got those results regardless of what state of the economy. People were still buying cars in a recession. Even during the Financial Crisis, if the unemployment rate went to 15%, that means that 85% still had jobs. That means that even in the worst recession, people in the United States still have jobs, the economy keeps moving, and prosperity was still widespread. They may have a temporary decrease in income, but overall poverty did not overwhelm the populace.

My Conclusions about the Economy

Here’s what I learned about this thing called the “economy.” First, the economy is lot like the weather. You can complain about the rain or the snow, but the only thing your complaints do is make you and everyone around you miserable. If you keep smiling during the rain, you stay upbeat and with a positive attitude.

Second, people can’t have recessions in the classical definition. You are not a country. Your income can decline, or your sales can decrease, but your GDP can’t recede. You’re not a country. You don’t have a GDP.

Third, as a last resort, you can choose not to participate in a recession. It’s not the best course of action, but it will work. The right answer is to work harder than you did during the good times to make sure your sales don’t decrease and that your income doesn’t decrease. Ultimately, it’s all up to you. Your life is your responsibility, and no one will save you unless you do.

There Is No “Life Participation” Trophy

Trophy Nameplate

Trophy nameplate for showing up

But I got a trophy when I was younger…?

When I was a kid, one year I got a trophy for playing soccer. Our team sucked. We were last in our division, and I think we won maybe two games out of 10 or 12. At the end of the season, we all got a trophy. It was a surprise to me since we were horrible. It was the only time I ever got a trophy for doing poorly in my life. At best, we showed up. Every time I looked at that trophy, it paled in comparison to the trophies next to it on my bookshelf we earned after winning championships.

I persevered with my scholastic soccer career, and it culminated with being a starter on our high school soccer team. On that team, we dominated two divisions and finished the season 22-2. I also made the Alabama State Select Team and went to Southeast Regional camp. As my teammates and I were leaving, we saw a banner welcoming the kids for trying out for the US Olympic National Soccer Team that week. We were those kids. We won a couple of trophies for this performance, and it was a chain of events that I will always carry with me. It was the winning experience, and it kept me going through some incredibly dark days of my life. It also kept me focused that I am a winner and that, although things were temporarily tough, I knew that I would win again.

Congratulations! You showed up!

There is a Woody Allen quote I see or hear occasionally that I have always doubted. That quote is “80% of success is showing up.” What this means is that if you show up, your chances of success are greater than if you don’t show up. Some people have rationalized that, since 80% is a B in most school grading systems, if you just show up, you get a B. Somehow over the years, people have misconstrued this quote into “95% of success is just showing up.” This way you get an A for just showing up. Presto! Everyone gets a trophy!

No Trophy for Just Showing Up

There is a trend these days to boost the self-esteem of people who do not do well and whose results are lacking. This concept not only gives people a false sense of accomplishment, but it also robs the glory of victory from the victors. From little league baseball to the President telling successful entrepreneurs and business owners “You didn’t build that,” giving everyone a trophy belittles the accomplishments of others by making everyone the same. Unfortunately, when you get to the marketplace or reality, you don’t get a paycheck (trophy) just for showing up. Maybe you or someone you know receives royalties or deferred compensation. Someone had to do something to start the ball rolling to get that deferred compensation in the bank. What about those who inherit their wealth? Someone earned that money at some point and passed it along to their descendants. The point is that if you do nothing, you will get nothing.

The only way to get a trophy

I don’t know of every instance where someone does nothing and gets paid for it. However, it has been my experience that there is a certain level of competence that comes from getting a trophy, or a paycheck, and especially a commission check. If you don’t earn it, you don’t get the prize. If you have nothing, it’s because you did nothing, and therefore, you are earning nothing. You have to get off your couch and earn what you keep. No one owes you anything unless you earn it by proving your value in the marketplace. If you earn it and don’t get the trophy, then you might want to do what you do for someone else who will pay the price you ask.

Ambition vs Greed

Ambition_vs_GreedIf there are two words that are often confused, they are ambition and greed. It is the perspective of the person using these words and sometimes their agendas that are the difference. Most people see ambition as a positive value to be cherished and greed as a negative attribute to avoid. Most people would say that the person who is striving to advance himself as ambitious. Most people see the executive who embezzles from the company for which he works as greedy.

However, most people have televisions. On most televisions have shows with people who have an agenda to mislead others. They cloud the difference between ambition and greed. What happens when the man who strives for the promotion at work becomes the executive who embezzles from the company for which he works? What about the hard working woman who builds a great company and then becomes wealthy? Some people label her as greedy simply because of her financial success. Behind the scenes, she may donate large sums of money to charitable causes, but people still label her as greedy. How is one quality different from the other?

In showing the difference between these two words, it’s important to remember that we consider the perspective of the observer (and sometimes, agenda of the critic). Let’s look at the definitions of both words and then we can decide where we draw the line between the two.

Definition of Ambition

Dictionary.com defines ambition as “an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.” That sounds like a good quality to have, right? Who would read this and say that this is a bad idea? Maybe the person who got fired because of someone else’s ambition? Almost anyway you look at ambition it sounds like a quality that garners respect and admiration.

Definition of Greed

Dictionary.com defines greed as “excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.” That sounds like a quality we avoid. The desire for wealth or possessions to the point of embezzling from a company could be considered excessive. Wealthy people have been called greedy by politicians asking them to “pay their ‘fair share'” (whatever that means). I always think it curious that people with little demanding other people’s money in the name of the wealthy being greedy. For whatever reason and whatever agenda, greed is something that causes abhorrence and consternation in others.

Enter Jim Rohn

One of my first personal development influences was Jim Rohn. I bought my mp3’s titled The Art of Exceptional Living in August 2008, and I still listen to them occasionally today. I never had the chance to meet him, but his legacy lives on today in his books and audio programs. Mr. Rohn looked at the difference between these two words and came to an interesting conclusion. Here is the best explanation for the differences between these two words that I know. According to Mr. Rohn, enlightened self-interest is the basis for both of these words. Enlightened self-interest is the basically desire for gain. The difference is that greed is gaining at the expense of others. Ambition is gaining in the service of others. I am not a religious man, but there is a lot of wisdom in ancient writings. For example, The Bible says that Jesus of Nazareth said that to become the greatest of them all is the person who serves the most people. Gaining a fortune by serving the most people I consider to be ambitious, but not greedy.

No matter your religious views, serving others is better than taking from others. Remember this whenever you hear of someone accused of being greedy. Is that person serving others, or are they taking from others while giving nothing in return? Should the day come that someone calls you greedy, make sure that you are gaining from serving others instead of taking from others.

Fitness: Body, Mind, Spirit

Body_Mind_Spirit2My Attitude Towards Fitness

The word “trinity” is defined as the number three. There are many trinities in the world. The number three comes up again and again throughout the development of civilization, in nature and all over the world. Maybe it is the way our brains are wired? Did a deity or deities give us this number and say “I give you the number three?” Did aliens give the number three to us? I have no idea, but I do know that there is a trinity that I pay very close attention. It is about my health, the one asset that if I lose, I can do nothing. This trinity consists of the main aspects of being human: body, mind, and spirit.

I am a former high school championship soccer player, and I am still an athlete. I began working out again in November 2014 when I knew that I would soon be facing challenges. I started experiencing a lack of energy and my normal (very physical) 14 hour workday as a waiter in a high volume restaurant became more challenging. I thought that my current lifestyle did not permit me to be in anything but top physical shape.


I have yet to find a doctor to say that exercise is bad for you, but then again, I’m not taking a poll. I have read some borderline irresponsible articles about how running is bad for your knees and doing sit-ups is bad for your back. If you are considering starting a workout regimen, consult your doctor first to see what is best for you.

However, if you are in good health, and you are only looking for an excuse to not start a workout regimen, I am not the guy you want to consult with on your health. I am in the “Ask-your-doctor-if-getting-off-your-ass-is-right-for-you” camp.


Just like your body needs exercise, your mind needs exercise too. Mental fitness means reading something new and putting new information into your brain. Staying mentally fit means solving a problem that you have in your life by making plans that will correct what needs to be corrected and executing those plans. Improving your mental agility means turning off the damn TV, picking up a book, and learning something new and integrating it into your life.


I am not an authority on spiritual fitness, but I am becoming a student of spiritual fitness. I am not what I consider a religious man, but that is where meditation plays a role in my life. Running and working out are spiritual to me. Getting into the downloaded audios from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself (affiliate link) and meditating is a great way to become more spiritual. I own this book and the audios, and I recommend that you buy them also.

Fitness is not just for the guy at the gym working on being the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. To me, staying fit is how you stay sane in a world gone mad. Your fitness training should include body, mind, and spirit because body, mind, and spirit are all connected. You cannot live in good health without paying attention to all three of these crucial areas of life.


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