glass half fullMany of us have seen the quote from Henry Ford – “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

In speaking with several people recently, I’ve been struck by the influence of their can or cannot perspective and how it reinforces the point of this powerful quote.

On the one hand, there are the people who are looking for a next step in their career or life and they are able to see all the ways something can work. While they may experience obstacles, the obstacles become challenges or problems to be solved rather than blocks that stop them. They find all the good in what they are looking to do and it comes through in the enthusiasm, alignment, passion, and commitment to their goal.

On the other hand, there are the “can’t do” or “yeah but” people, who are experts at finding all the reasons why something won’t work. The obstacles become the gate that stops them from moving forward. They find all the excuses for not taking action, see what is missing from the options, and present an energy of “this is never going to work”. What comes through is resistance, justifications, and objections which can have a stronger hold than the power of their goal.

As a coach, the “yeah but” or “can’t do” person is a challenge because in supporting them to uncover their own solutions, there are none. They take an action “but” it won’t change anything. They set a goal “but” it’s not really what they want. When they make shifts, it can become “but” it’s not really anything (in other words, it’s no big deal).

Having been the penultimate “yeah but” person myself led me to the first personal development trainings I did in People Styles and NLP. These life-altering courses helped me shift my “yeah but”. I began seeing other perspectives, seeing the shades of grey, and recognizing that a step forward is progress rather than remaining stuck, or going in circles. Forward progress builds momentum and a belief in what is possible – think of the children’s book The Little Engine that Could.

How do you view your pathway forward? Are you aligned with what you want? Does the next stepping stone seem clear, or are you surrounded by weeds and thorny plants that make moving forward just a bit too challenging?