Before I started my career at Thinkbox, I worked in ABA therapy. ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis, is a practice of tracking behavior to produce data, compiling it, creating a plan, and executing it until success. It is a strict discipline where the smallest of slip ups can set you back months. Where I worked we specialized in working with the Developmentally Disabled. Most cases were very low functioning and the word “can’t” was thrown around a lot…

‘We can’t get them to behave” …

”We can’t teach them to communicate”…”

We can’t take them outside ”… so many cants.

However I quickly learned that that word did not mean what I thought it meant, in fact we were using the wrong word altogether. The word we were looking for was won’t. It was not a matter of can or can not, it was a matter of will.

I have now been with Thinkbox four years, and in that time I have come to despise the word “can’t”. It is the worst of the four letter words. It is a cancer to production, and will run rampant in the best of teams if you let it. When I worked in ABA I was trained to be immune to “can’t” , and it was simple, you replace it with “how”. How CAN it be done? That simple shift in mindset opens the doors to success and allows us to navigate the toughest scenarios. The issue, however, is that simple shift is not so simple. Saying “can’t” is easy, it’s addictive and contagious.“Can’t” keeps us safe from taking that fearful step toward the possibility of failure. The only way to beat it, is to quit cold turkey and choose to eliminate that word from your vocabulary.

So, what if we stopped being afraid of what could go wrong, and be excited about what could go right. What do we have to lose?