A good friend of mine is married to a man who hates his job. He has been working in the same place for almost 20 years and has not been promoted or received a raise for years on end. Every time we meet he sounds like a broken record – “I hate my job” or “I was passed over again for a promotion” or “My boss does not like me”. It is an endless litany of complaints and misery.
One day I could not take it any more. I stopped him in his tracks and asked him why on earth he did not resign and get another job. His reaction was priceless. He genuinely looked like the thought had never occurred to him. After a few minutes all he could come up with was “Better the devil you know”.
Seeing as he seemed determined to stay put I started making suggestions about what he could do to get himself out of the rut he was in. I suggested he speak to his manager to ask for more responsibilities or new assignments. No can do – he was already busy enough as is and he did not want to take on even more. I then proposed that he start a course or get a new qualification. No can do – his days of studying were long over and he had no interest starting all over again. I also suggested he ask to move to another department to widen his range of experience, increasing his value to the company. No can do – there was nothing else that interested him in the entire organisation….
I am usually never lost for ideas but I must admit that at that point I totally ran out of options. Clearly the man was only interested in complaining and did not want to do anything to improve his lot in life. I also started to feel rather sorry for his employer. A man with this kind of attitude is anything but an asset.
This conversation happened many years ago but it has remained firmly entrenched in my memory. Over the years I have met other people like him and every time I remember the absolute frustration I felt during that chat. These people never accept responsibility for their lot in life. When things go wrong, or not the way they planned, they always blame it on someone else and claim that they have no control over the situation. They never learn from their mistakes and do nothing to influence what is going on around them. They are people with a No Can Do attitude.
“I cannot save any money. My salary is not high enough and it is impossible for me to cut back on my expenses!”
“I cannot get better grades. The lecturer is too boring!”
“I did not get a promotion. The guy who got it sucks up to the boss all the time, even volunteering to do extra work. There’s nothing I can do about it!”
Do you know someone like this? They are the eternal victims, caught in a vicious self-fulfilling cycle of negativity.
I am a great believer in the power of Can Do. If you have a dream or a goal in life there is no point procrastinating. Every journey starts with the first step, so get up and get walking! You might make it or you might not, but at least you will never come to regret wasting an opportunity or not even trying.
When I was a child I had a poster hanging in my room which proclaimed that we should “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”
I absolutely loved that poster and even now, as an adult, the quote often springs to mind. (I have since learned that the quote originated from
Life is full of challenges and opportunities and it is important to rise to the occasion and grab life by the horns. Many people have told me that I was lucky to start my business, somehow implying that the idea and the fully fledged company somehow fell out of the sky and straight into my lap. The truth is that I was indeed lucky. I was lucky to be around at a time when there was a need in the market that coincided with an interest of mine. I was also lucky to have had the insight to appreciate the opportunity that had been presented to me. However that is where luck ended and good old-fashioned hard work began. The business did not just happen, I made it happen.
Everyone has a stroke of luck, or a good opportunity, at some point in his or her life. We also all experience bad luck and disappointments. What distinguishes the trajectory our life takes is our reaction to these events, and not the events themselves.
If you fall you have a choice. You can either stay down or you can get up, dust yourself off, and continue working towards your goal. This is what distinguishes the winners from the losers. Persistence. Tenacity. A Can Do attitude.
A great example is J.K. Rowling, who was rejected by 12 publishers before Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was accepted by Bloomsbury. In a bid to encourage aspiring authors Ms Rowling recently shared two of the rejection letters she had received, telling her followers on Twitter that they should never give up.
Luckily for Harry Potter lovers worldwide, myself included, Ms Rowling hung in there, wreaking success out of initial disappointment. Her story is an inspiration to us all.
So if you have a dream it is important to focus on ways of achieving your goals, instead of the obstacles you might find in your way. Everyone has moments when they doubt themselves. Everyone sometimes comes up against a brick wall. When that happens, go look for a ladder.