“I can” or ” I cannot”

IMG_1666Many years ago I met a senior consultant who taught me an important lesson in life.  He told me that everything in life can be answered with “I can” or “I cannot”.  Once you decide you can, you find all the ways and means to do it and once you decide you cannot, you find all the excuses not to do it.

It looked a bit simplistic to me.  But, I am happy I got this lesson, when I was just starting my career.  I believe it is true and it works for me.  I am a born optimist.  So, for me, if I believe I want something, it is always ” I can”.  I have very very rarely felt – ” I cannot”.  This is true for my personal as well as work life.

I can cite many examples from my life, which has established that this is true.  I will share a few of my personal ones .  Then, I will also share a few of my life experiences, where I have met people, who believe they always can and also met people, who believe they always  can’t.

My first example was when I wanted to plunge into the professional world to prove myself.  I started my career in a public sector undertaking as a management trainee and worked there for 14 years successfully.  Life was cosy, learning was good and my career progressed pretty well.  I got promoted every three years on an average and also got a job rotation every 3rd year.  But, when I got my last promotion in 1995 as a Senior Manager, I asked my manager what would be my new role.  When he replied that I will continue with my present role even after my promotion, I decided that I need to move on and prove my worth in the market place.  I took a plunge in the private sector without knowing what is in store for me in the world outside.  It was 1995 and the job market was not as rosy as it is today.  But, I felt “I can” and took the risk much against the advise of my manager and my organisation.  Today after 21 years, I have no regrets.  God has been kind to me and I have realised my potential in a competitive market place since I believed ” I can”.

The second example could be from my personal life.  I decided to go on a long road trip.  I had never done it before and had no experience of it.  But I believed “I can” and then I made it to cover 7000 kilometres on road with my family in a small car across India.  I planned for it, collected maps, prepared my family and took the risk.  It was about facing challenges but when my family members were supportive, there was no way I could not do it.

I have never really cooked in my life.  But, once when we were challenged to participate in a cooking contest.  I jumped in and our team won the first prize.  I believe it was partly because I thought I always could.

I have met people in life who will never say no to anything.  They can always find a way to do anything.  Sometimes, it may take more time or more effort but “No” is not in their dictionary.  On the other hand,  I have met people, who will say “Not possible” even before understanding what they need to do.  Such people will have excuses for everything.  I have met a few team members at work, who will shirk work even without understanding how it will benefit them.  They may even go to the extent of saying that it is not within their scope of duties.

I recall an incident way back in the nineties.  I had been for campus recruitment to an engineering college in Patiala. Whenever, I visit a place for the first time, I love to see the around  and buy some unique thing from there.  I met the placement officer and shared my interest.  He said, yes you can.  I told him that my selection process will start at 8 am and finish by 9 pm.  Then, how could I see the place ! He said no problem, you can.  I told him even if I cannot see the around the place since it would be late at night, will it be possible to buy some unique item as a memorabilia.  He confirmed again that I could. When I enquired how I could buy something after all the shops would shut by 9 pm .  He said he will ensure some shops are kept open for me.  Then I said, I may miss my train if I do shopping, for which he said I will arrange a cab to drop me back to Delhi.  He had options for every contigency since he believed “he can” always.

Life is full of possibilities and we can make things possible if we want to.  However, if we decide to give up in our own mind, then even the possible looks impossible.

Make your choice and convert the impossible to possible by saying – ” I can”

S Ramesh Shankar


4 thoughts on ““I can” or ” I cannot”

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