I remember coming home from kindergarten and complaining to my father that Kathy D. told me I couldn't do something on the playground. "You can't do that," she said.
And my father answered very simply and quietly, "That's ignorance. When someone says you can't do something, they're just showing what they don't know. There is no can't".
So I told my father, "Tomorrow I'm going to go back and tell her that you said I can."
And he answered, "No. That won't do. It's about ignorance, so she won't understand. She'll argue, and that's no good. Let it always be enough that you know you can. Just go about your business and ignore the can'ts. Life is full of them. You need to let them be and just keep going. If you pay attention to the cant's, you won't see the cans."
It wasn't about defying authority. I knew the difference between can't and shouldn't, or may not. It was about CAN. And being told that I should quietly go about knowing that I can, made all the difference. It gave me the motivation to learn new, difficult things and the patience to wait for things. Why rush just to give up? Especially when you know that you CAN. So what if it isn't today? You CAN.
I learned a third exercise that many people don't think to do. People think to stretch their bodies, and people think to stretch their intellect. But most people don't think to stretch their capabilities. Even if they don't know it, they're stuck with the question, "Can I? Will I be able to? Until you answer that question with a yes, you're a member of the billions club. You're part of the billions of people that don't try until they're sure that they can. They don't know if they can, and they're afraid to try until they know.
I learned the answer to that question in kindergarten, but that doesn't make me special. Anyone can learn it anytime they want to.