Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" is one the most inspiring songs I've ever heard.
I usually listen to it once or twice a week because it's like a personal theme song for the journey I've been on.
Frequently I recite the lyrics "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but our self can free our minds”.
I say those words to replace the self-talk which sabotaged me for many, many years:“I can’t.”
I don’t remember what the task was. I don’t remember how old I was. All I remember was my mom yelling at me to “never say that” phrase.
“Don’t tell me what you can’t do.” she said. “There’s nothing you can’t do.”
For whatever reason, I was determined to prove her wrong and I began to mentally list all of the things that I obviously couldn’t do like walk on water or fly like a bird.
Yes, it was a very short list that in hindsight. And one I paid way too much attention to.
If I had only focused on the millions, or billions or even trillions of things that weren’t on the list my life would be much different than it is now.
Chalk that up as a lesson learned through the School of Hard Knocks also known as prison.
In the process of trying to prove my Mom wrong by clinging tightly to my right to believe "I can't" I sabotaged and bypassed many opportunities to succeed. I eventually found myself in two prisons; A literal prison behind cement walls and steel doors and barbed wire fences and a second, figurative, mental prison of my own making.
Holding onto the "I can't" attitude, I limited the options I had available to me. I limited the places I was able to go, things I was able to have, things I would be able to do and the things I would be able to become.
It wasn’t until I released myself from that mental prison; my belief and commitment to what I couldn’t do, that I began to experience true freedom, success and really live and enjoy life.
I recently was hired by the City and County of Denver’s Department of Public Safety. My official title is an “Outreach Worker” for GRID (Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver). In this role I will be responsible for managing cases of young men and women who have been given an opportunity to change the direction in which they're lives are headed. As such, I have been authorized to introduce the Be Better Than Average philosophy and curriculum to my clients.
The fact I got this job is remarkable because once upon a time I wouldn’t have even imagined applying for it. My criminal background, the people I will soon work with and most importantly, my own attitude wouldn’t have allowed it.
It would have been very simple for me to say “I can’t” when faced with the opportunity to apply.
I know that the average person lives life focusing on the incredibly finite list of things that they “can’t” do. Or even worse, they continually add things to the list. Things that may, yes, be uncomfortable, or even painful but still are within the realm of being accomplished. How many of us are limiting our potential by declaring without consideration “I can’t”
"I can't start my own business." "I can't go back to school." "I can't save money." "I can't stop smoking." "I can't lose weight." "I can't do this." "I can't do that."
Quite frankly. It's all bullshit.
It wasn’t until I released myself from my belief and commitment to what I couldn’t do, that I really began to live and enjoy life.
Once I begin my new job every person who comes through my door will be intimately familiar with my motto: “So what. Now what?”. I firmly believe that we are the masters of own fate and create our own destinies. The first three steps in improving your lot in life is believing wholeheartedly that you are capable of and responsible for and must commit to doing so regardless of obstacles, circumstances or detractors.
Bottom line: I will understand and even accept temporary failures but never, never excuses especially “I can’t.”
"I can’t" is a mindset that robs people of their hope. "I can’t" is a blindfold that hides opportunities and possibilities. "I can’t" is a lock on the door that leads to happiness and success. "I can’t" is the bullet that kills ambition. "I can’t" is the poison that kills dreams. "I can’t" is the signature on the death warrant of greatness.
Like the word impossible, "I can’t" is an opinion held by weak, cowardly, very average men. And from this point on, if you are serious about being better than average and living a better than average life you will remove “I can’t” from your vocabulary. You will remove "impossible" and "try" and "but" and in most cases the word "because".
The language you will use from this day on will reflect your desire and your will of a champion.
Be Better Than Average
I am a simple man who has lived a complicated life. The lessons I've learned from the experiences I've been through and the challenges I've conquered have helped me develop a philosophy that life is meant to be lived at a level better than average.