A World Without ‘Can’t’

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For the next couple of minutes, I’d like you to humour me. I want to take you on a little journey into a world where the word can’t has never existed.


Personally, I think the word can’t is responsible for holding huge numbers of business owners back. Most of us use it daily without really thinking about why we’re doing so.

I can’t charge that much
I can’t take on a member of staff
I can’t afford to go to a conference
I can’t take on that responsibility
I can’t teach a course
I can’t bid for such a big project
I can’t offer consultancy services
I can’t put myself forward for an award

Get the idea? Business owners like you and I use those four little letters daily to limit ourselves and prevent us trying new things.

What if you challenge it?

The reason one small word has such a big hold on us is that we rarely challenge it. When our inner critique rises up and tells us we can’t do something, most of us will simply agree with it. But what if we questioned it?

If you take on the questioning challenge, you’ll likely find there isn’t very much substance at all behind can’t.

Go on, try it now. Think of something you’ve recently told yourself you can’t do in your business, such as pitching to a new bigger client, offering a new service or even writing a book. Now try and come up with one genuine unsurmountable reason why you can’t.

It’s quite hard, isn’t it?

After all, most of the reasons we come up with are fairly easily surmountable.

  • If the reason is financial… how many more sales would you have to make before it became a possibility?
  • If the reason is time-based… what jobs could you outsource to someone else to make time?
  • If the reason is based on lack of skills… what training could you invest in to fill the knowledge gap?

In my experience, the real underlying reason behind almost all can’ts is fear. Being a business owner often means we have to put ourselves out there to move forward. Doing this can be really scary, especially if you sometimes have issues with confidence.

But the alternative, listening every time our inner critique says can’t, will stop us from experiencing new things and putting ourselves forward for new opportunities.

A world without can’t

So what about if we lived in a world where no one had ever used the word can’t? Close your eyes for a moment and have a think about where your business might’ve taken you if your inner critique had never spoken up.

Would your business be bigger? More specialist? Would you be trading from a slightly different angle or focusing more on values that are important to you? Would you be working with different types of client on different types of project?

Obviously we can’t click our fingers and make can’t disappear altogether, but we can make a resolution to challenge it. Next time you find yourself countering a new idea with the word can’t: make sure there’s a genuinely good reason why not.

Did you find this exercise helpful? If so, I’d love to hear where your business might’ve taken you if you’d never said can’t. Share your thoughts on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page or send me a quick email.

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