Saying I can’t is easy. It absolves us of ownership. When we say we can’t it allows us to avoid the effort. It let’s us stop. Saying we can’t allows us to avoid failure. It’s easy to say I can’t.
The problem is, can’t is almost always code for . . . I don’t know how.
Saying I don’t know how is more difficult. Saying I don’t know how makes the effort ours to fix. It puts the onus on us. It forces us to do something about it. It makes the problem our responsibility. It’s an indictment on our capabilities. It’s admitting a weakness.
Because we don’t like to admit we are incapable of doing things we say we can’t. Saying we can’t let’s us off the hook.
We can’t get to quota, because it’s too high. We can’t beat the competition, because we don’t have that feature. We can’t get to the executives, because we don’t have the right title. We can’t lose weight because we’ve tried everything. We can’t travel to Europe, because we don’t make enough money.
Saying I can’t stops the discussion. Saying I can’t allows us to walk away and feel OK about it.
Saying I don’t know how changes everything. When we say I don’t know how we have to go figure it out. I don’t know how to beat the competition, without that feature. I don’t know how to make this high quota. I don’t know how to get to the executives with my title. I don’t know how to lose anymore weight. I don’t know how to travel to Europe on my salary.
Saying I don’t know how hurts, but at least once you start saying it, you’ll know what to do.