Can't vs. Won't

by Kerry Taylor

You: "I can't do it."
Me: "Did you try?"
You: "No."
Me: "So how do you know?"
You: "I just do."

Being in this industry for 20+ years as a coach, playing sports for the majority of my life, and coaching young athletes for over 25 years, I have heard my share of the words “I can’t”. Nothing frustrates me more than to hear that come out of someone's mouth. If you have been trained or coached by me, you know that I better not be in ear shot if you decide to utter those God forsaken words because you know I will be the first one there to step in and prove you wrong. Because that's what I love to do. There are so many amazing examples in our world of those that can, so why not you? Hmmmm… Here is why.

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When you speak the words, “I can’t,” what you are essentially saying is that, “I won’t” or even worse, “I am just not willing to try”. You have to step up to the plate to at least give it a shot because you probably could. But saying “I can’t” allows you the freedom to start to point the finger in another direction and release ownership from yourself and put it on to something or someone else. Excuses are your saving grace.


The only way "can’t" should ever be allowed to be used is when you quickly follow it up with a plan or a solution. For example, “I can’t run a marathon right now, so I will put a running schedule together so I can next year.” Or the one I don’t mind hearing, “I’m not sure I can do it, but if you help me I will give it a try.” I love this because you have recognized that at this current moment there is something missing in order for you to achieve this goal, but if you add that last ingredient you will achieve success. Where would  this young man be if he said, “I can’t”?  He just achieved something no one has ever done at the NFL Combine after not being originally invited to participate. “I can’t” is not a part of his vocabulary. We will see him on an NFL team one day soon.


So next time you start to curl your lips up to speak the words “I can’t”, are you really saying “you won’t”? If you add in a quick solution or at least give it a shot, you probably could! Your thoughts become your new reality.

Until next time, continue to live a life one degree above the rest.