Monday, May 14, 2012

Can't never did anything!

It was a mantra from my childhood. I heard it at home; I heard it at school. "Can't never did anything!" It became ingrained; it became me. And it has produced both success and frustration. "We can't do that" is never an acceptable response. What is acceptable? "I don't know how to do that." OK, we can learn or we can figure it out. "We don't have the money to do that." OK, we can defer it until we raise the money. "We don't have the necessary skills mix to do that." OK, let's go recruit who we need. But if it's worth doing, never let me hear, "We can't do that."


  1. Oh, Jim! Thank you for this post! My Mom visited my consciousnes with the mantra, "Can't never tried." And, like you, I've worn this mantle all my life! Some call me a Pollyanna...but my attitude toward achievable success is more a product of "Can't never tried," than anything else. She also left me with "He who expects nothing will not be disappointed." So I "Make no small plans..." My Neighborhood Association believes I'm nuts, sometimes...they've labeled me a "Blue Sky" gal...(more like Pie-in-the-Sky.) I understand people's trepidation at attempting big things, but how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I'm told that negativism is a survival skill. Doubters survived in primitive cultures. Yet the success-aphorisms also remained. And where are all these little comforting (or discomforting) homilies that you and I were subjected to by our parents, today? I wonder how many 20-30- or even 40-somethings quote these kinds of directives for how to live their lives...Great post, great topic...years worth of posts there!

    1. I grew up with that one too. Also, there is the old Oriental proverb: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Or how about: "If fail to plan, you plan to fail." I used to regularly read Zig Ziglar and still go back to him now and then. He is a great motivator.

  2. In our family it was "there's no such word as can't" - but it had the same effect. The kind of thing that I finds myself saying and then think "Gosh, I sound like my mother!" It's a useful mantra though. Laid on thick at school too - the school motto was " Persevere. There is no failure except in ceasing to try."