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"I can't"? No, you "won't."

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“I can't.”

These two words drive every coach crazy.  They enrage us for one reason: they are self-defeating. The words “I can't” never mean that a person is physically unable to perform, or that they are incapable. “I can't” is something they tell themselves so they have an excuse to stop trying, or when they are afraid to fail.

It is never “I can't”; it is always “I won't”.

Oftentimes “I can't” arises when a task becomes too hard and, or, the fear of failure sets in. No one ever heard someone say “I can't” as they are trying something; “I can't” comes just before you try it.  “I can't” comes just as they get under the barbell, or it comes as they sit on the box for a squat. “I can't” never happens when someone is fighting to lock out a deadlift, it never happens on the way up from a pushup as you're grinding it out. “I can't” always precedes the movement. For this reason you know “I can't” means “I won't”

“I can't’ is a limiting factor they place on themselves,

...it authors the story so they have a limiting factor outside of their control, when in reality they don't want to try or are afraid to fail. When they place these limits on themselves, they have already failed in their mind before they've tried.

When authoring excuses you only write failures.

This is why honesty is is paramount to success. When you are realistic and honest and own the fear you can start saying “I won't because I…”  When there is this mental shift you create ownership for your shortcomings. And although you may still be scared to fail and still don't try, at least ownership of the issue is had. That is the first step to success, owning the fear and learning to try in spite of it.