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  • Writer's pictureRobert Eckelman

Ditch the T and turn can't into can, it is only one letter

Ditch the T and turn can't into can, it is only one letter
Ditch the T and turn can't into can, it is only one letter

A friend and I were discussing his next employment opportunity. I suggested a few options, but he kept saying, "I can't do that."

Finally, I responded, "Drop the T." He looked confused and asked, "What does that mean?" I explained, Change can't to can, because you can do these things. It seems like this is more of a situation of won't."

There's a significant difference between can't and won't, and I make a conscious effort to always remember this. Most of the time, "can't" can be addressed with education, planning, or training. Often, the word "can't" limits your potential. However, "won't" is a different issue altogether.

"Can't" refers to a lack of ability—mental, situational, or physical. It can often be fixed with the right resources,training, education, support...

On the other hand, "won't" is a deliberate refusal to do something, based on principle, optics, ethics, or circumstances. Find your motivation; make it personal. Make it about you.

I told my friend that every time he says, "I can't," he's really saying, "I won't." So, I asked him why he wouldn't try some of my suggestions. Eventually, we made progress. He admitted that the job recommendations I was making were beneath him. Knowing his past jobs, skills, and achievements, this surprised me.

When I asked him to expand on that, it turned out he was concerned about what others would think of him doing menial work.

I asked him to consider whether he was making decisions for others or for himself and to think about what might be the best outcome for his situation. The best way to improve your personal situation is to take the first step.

Words matter, and it's a peeve of mine when people substitute "can't." for "won't". I always try to drop the T. If you have read this far, I hope this resonates with you and my friend as well.


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