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Changing your question: Transitioning from “Can I?” to “How can I?”

Stop asking “Can I?” and start asking “How can I?”

The power of one word can change an entire mindset- an entire life, really. The dictionary would define the word “how” like this: “in what way or manner; by what means.” The result is that instead of asking yourself if you can accomplish something, you can ask yourself, “In what way and by what means can I accomplish this? How can I accomplish this?”

“Can I?” leaves room for the answer to be no.

“How can I?” welcomes a challenge and creates a plan, with the answer being “Yes, I can.”

On our Leadershift call this week, Mike asked the students how their capacity was limited. The over-arching response was that self, or self-doubt, was the biggest limitation towards one’s capacity. Mike shared that self-limiting statements always work, and I agree with this. I’m currently working on a book right now, but if I kept telling myself that I was never going to finish the book, that I didn’t have what it takes to write that many words, or that I was never going to get published, then I would be determining my future. I would be ensuring that I was right, and I wouldn’t finish my book. Come to think of it, some of these self-limiting statements have echoed through my mind over the past months, and perhaps that’s why I’m not as far along in the writing process as I would like to be.

If you tell yourself you can’t, then you can’t. You have to believe in yourself, and you have to be willing to put in the effort even when victory seems far off or not even within view. Price Pritchett, author of You2, wrote the following:

Your skepticism, which you presume is based on rational thinking and objective assessment, factual data about yourself, is rooted in mental junk. Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking but habitual thinking. Years ago, you accepted flawed conclusions as correct, began to live your life as if those warped ideas about your individual potential were true, and you ceased the bold, experimenting living breakthrough behaviors as a child.

Pritchett’s statement that doubts are the product of habitual thinking opposed to accurate thinking really sparked my interest. Unfortunately, I would probably say that I doubt myself quite a lot. There is a sense of unhealthy comfort that comes from telling myself that I can’t do it, so there is no point trying. If I don’t leave room for failure, then I’m “fine.” I don’t stop often enough to challenge the doubts though. I don’t question the accuracy of them. We claim habitual thinking as truth because that’s what we know. We don’t question it because habitual thinking provides a sense of false security.

What are some of the doubts that occupy your mind? Maybe we share some of the same.

  • I can’t actually turn my ideas into actions.

  • My passions could never truly become my reality.

  • I’m not good enough for this.

  • I’m going to screw up.

  • It will be too hard for me.