It’s Not About “Can’t”

I just came across this great blog Raising Gatejumpers | Digital Dads

It starts out . . .

I have always hated whenever someone told me “you can’t do that” or “that isn’t how it is done.” I never understood either of those concepts. Sure, there are rules in place to keep people safe and kids out of trouble, but beyond that if I want to do something and no one is going to get hurt by me doing it, I’ve always pushed to make it happen.

The post goes on to talk about the responsibility parents have to instill possibility in their children, to realize that one shouldn’t self limit their own boundaries.

I must have had a really good parent, because my mother instilled in me a firm belief that anything is possible. This single life skill I know has served me well personally and professionally. It instilled early on a sense of self confidence, strong decision making skills and a general ‘possibility-thinking’ attitude.

Maybe at the time this skill was a much more important skill to instill in your daughter. Though I never thought about it, maybe my mother did. Instead, I grew up knowing that I could get good grades if I wanted to (the choice was mine to apply myself), get involved in activities if I wanted and basically do anything, even if only once, that I set my mind to. I think the only area in which my mother would wince was in the area of sports. I guess my own history of breaking bones made her convinced that was not an area for me. But to her credit she never stopped me! She’d still let me try out skateboarding or basketball and let me prove to myself where I wanted to set my own boundaries, rather than deciding or instilling her own boundaries on me. As I look back, it must have taken a lot of skill and self control on her part to not pass on her own prejudices or opinions.

And now with what I think are successful professional work years behind me, I truly believe I owe my mother more credit than I gave her then.

For folks who don’t understand the concept that anything is possible, and have to work with me, I must appear to them as a big nudge. As a program manager or business sponsor I hate hearing ‘no, can’t be done’. If something needs to be accomplished I like to troubleshoot how to get there. Barriers (to me) are meant to be worked around, over come and moved aside. (Again, some folks may think I’m a pain.)

But I think this is all about innovation and creativity.

How many times in our own work life do we have customers (whether they be market customers or internal customers within our firewall) that need us to solve their problems. How often do we think about what we’ve done in the past or what our limitations are? How many more times do we need to think “what if?” or how “can” it be done instead?

I love the Digital Dads post above and I thought it was inspiration for the day. I blogged about this internally because I just wanted more people to see this, and I’m blogging about it here because for me this is a timeless piece.

It certainly frames my own personal motto for life – and I hope it gets you thinking as well.

Complain Less. Smile More.

I am such an eternal optimist. My approach on life is to always look at possibilities, be thankful for what you have and don’t waste time crying over spilled milk (ok sometimes you have to ask why did the milk get spilled so you learn, but you need to move on and move forward).

So recently, when a colleague posted a link to this site on our internal social collaboration space, I realized I came across a gem!

The Smile & Move ™ site has so many inspirational messages for better living, better relationships, better work. Take a look at the brief video on this site for thoughts like:

The smallest things can have the biggest impact.
Don’t settle.
Exceptional results come from exceptional effort
Make every moment count.
Give no excuses.

It appears this whole movement was initiated after witnessing his daughter and friend with their lemonade stand.

I noticed what seemed to be a less than positive and energetic approach to serving their customers. It reminded me of the adults that I’ve encountered in too many places, who seemed put out or moved with complete indifference.

The messages here remind us that sometimes true change needs to start with ourselves, our attitudes and our actions.

Rather than paraphrase anymore of the great content on this site, please check it out yourself.

Sadly Missing Utah

Several years ago I discovered a new passion (other than my job) in hiking. I was at a crossroads in my life and this ad for Red Mountain Spa lept out from a magazine and captivated me. Hikers with red rock canyons beneath their feet and crisp, blue skies in the horizon called out to me. Within a week I had my Memorial Day vacation booked.

I never owned hiking shoes and bought them on site at Red Mountain, a destination offering daily guided hikes into Snow Canyon and other local canyons. For 7 straight days I woke before the crack of dawn (5:15 am to grab breakfast and meet fellow hikers to beat the Utah summer heat).

I discovered a few things that week.

First, I’m a pretty good hiker. My type-A personality suits me well for a good paced hike. The views are worth the work.

Second, there is a reason one needs a good sports massage! After 5 days of hiking, muscles I don’t want to tell you even existed were cursing me. I had a Bryce Canyon full day hike in 2 days and failing legs were not an option. (I should tell you now that I didn’t go to the “Spa” part of Red Mountain up to that point – I didn’t need pampering, thank you very much! I needed fresh air and hard work.) I quickly realized the ‘hiker’s massage’ was on the massage menu for a reason! Two days later, my legs were stronger as a result. Now I’m not shy to realize when a good massage is just the right trick to get to the next level of endurance.

Third, I find there is nothing like the southwest. I’ve been to Arizona before. And after traveling to Utah, I’m convinced I must move or retire there somewhere in the southwest. I love the scenery.

Fourth, never go through the Las Vegas airport with your film in your suitcase. They x-ray your suitcases – and yes, it ruined all the fabulous Bryce Canyon shots I took. (Of course, now I have a digital camera, so I guess I don’t have to worry about that).

And finally, sometimes you need a full nature immersion to recalibrate. No laptops. No conference calls. No stress. I did arrive there stressed and tense. I returned more fit, more energized and more relaxed.

I also met one of my best friends on that trip – and we’ve stayed friends ever since. This trip had become an annual pilgrimage for me. Not just for the physical aspect, but for the ability to shed the winter doldrums. New England winters (and even springs lately) can really take a toll on you. Not being able to go this year was a huge impact. I don’t need to remind any New Englander how dreadfully awful this winter was. But for Gardner, our ice storm, and loss of power for 5 days, seemed to pack a double whammy.

I hadn’t decided if I was returning to Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, or the Grand Canyon, but I had fully intended one of those to be on my list this year.


Well, as you can see, that did not happen this May. Instead I must look at this shot from 2 years ago and only dream.

While most of the rest of my blog postings will tell you about the things I love about my job – there’s a part of me that resents the fact I had to forgo this trip the last 2 years. As Memorial Day came and went this past year, again I lamented this fact.


I hope that Labor Day weekend might at least have a White Mountain hiking trip in store for me.