Don’t tell me I can’t!

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

“How many times in your life,”my friend, Brian Willis, asks, “has someone told you that you can’t do something?”

Today I want to expand on Brian’s recent blog post about “The True Meaning of ‘I Can’t’“.

And he shares this nugget of wisdom from Sean Stephenson: “If someone tells you, ‘You can’t’ they really mean, ‘I can’t.'”

I love it when someone tells me that something can’t be done. It almost always inspires me to prove that it can.

Early in our radio careers, my college roommate, Steve Schram  and I were often told,”you can’t”. There is a lot of “no” in radio. We made a pact that whenever that happened we would challenge one another to work harder, get smarter, act and dress in a more professional manner and out hustle the competition. If someone told us we couldn’t do something, we immediately set out to prove that we could.

I credit that attitude to every success I’ve enjoyed ever since.

When I first read Dr. Vicktor Frankl‘s amazing book, “Man’s Search For Meaning“, I was fascinated to learn who survived the Nazi death camps. It was the people who had something they desperately wanted to do. It was often the desire to see loved ones again. For some it was as simple as living long enough to get back at the guards.

But they created that fire in the belly that drove them to succeed even when the reality of what they saw made it feel like the odds were stacked against them.

I’m still on the lookout for things that put a fire in my belly. That fire pushes through fear, obstacles and conventional wisdom. It keeps you going when everything around you tells you to give it up. Fire turns iron into unbreakable steel. It turns a placid pool of water into powerful steam that can warm the coldest heart and bring light to the darkness.

And nothing stokes that fire like hearing someone tell you something can’t be done.