What “Can’t” Really Means

When I lived in the Bay Area, one of mentors chastised me for the two-word response “I can’t.” Whatever he requested at the time, my “I can’t” response seemed accurate. I was new to the working world and I didn’t believe what I could do what was asked of me – I just didn’t have the knowledge, skills, or experience. I was overwhelmed with the task presented to me.

Yet, these deficiencies didn’t phase my mentor one bit. He told me (in no uncertain terms) that “I can’t” was completely inaccurate. “I won’t” was really the truth. This gave me pause. Had I given up before I even started? With more thought, I realized that I didn’t want to fail and defaulting to “I can’t” which gave me an out – although not a very powerful one.

So the next time you feel like you want to say “I can’t,” pause and see if you could actually take a step. That said, if you really don’t want to do something, then consider saying, “I won’t” – but do so with an understanding of the repercussions personally, professionally, and financially.

Have a great day,


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