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Article: Always Say "I can"

Always Say "I can"

I am VERY intentional about using the phrase “I can’t”… and it’s not because I read some woo-woo stuff about it in a book or (worse) on the internet.

It’s because my Uncle taught me a very hard lesson about the phrase when I was 17.

I was working with him on a moving truck, and he asked me to hand-carry a solid wood triple dresser with him.

There was no hand truck, no dolly, and no lifting straps—just our hands. Old school.

It was seven feet long and several hundred pounds… and it needed to go up two flights of stairs into a bedroom.

“I can’t”, I said.

To which he replied, “We don’t say ‘I can’t’ in our family.”

His reply wasn’t one of those feel-good, rah-rah, Hallmark movie replies to boost my confidence. It was a command. It was time for me to pick up the dresser—or else.

He not only made me carry the dresser that day, but he made me carry the heavier end. If that wasn’t enough, he made me walk backward with it while he drove me up the stairs like a runaway reverse locomotive.

On the second flight of stairs, I fell backward and the triple dresser crushed my legs. My back broke several spindles on the staircase.

The customer was angry but too terrified to say anything because he knew my Uncle might make him carry the dresser next. Smart move, ‘cause he would have.
It was ugly, but I unfolded myself, got up, and finished carrying the dresser into the bedroom.

Decades later, I still smell the old wood of that dresser as it pressed against my face. I still feel the rough edges of its splintered base cutting into my palms. I still remember how its weight folded me in half and crushed my kneecaps.

But you know what else?

I still remember the day I said “I can’t” when it actually turned out… I could.

Thanks to my Uncle, it was the day I learned an important lesson:

Always say “I can” to hard things.

(Regardless of your excuses or emotions. Rule No. 9.)

Sure, it will be a struggle… but it will strengthen you.

And that is really what life is all about—

Finding meaning and strength in our struggles.

Here’s to saying “I can” this week,


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