What can’t you do?
I once wrote about how I “do it all”. The moral of that prose was that I do NOT do it all. I do not even come close to achieving that unattainable goal, nor do I want to. You cannot do it all, all the time. You can, however, do everything and anything you want to do. And there is a big difference.
The question of how I do it all implies a query into the inner workings of my daily grind. HOW is trying to figure out a seemingly impossible equation for maximum productivity– one that frankly does not exist in a one size fits all model. If I am passionate about something, the how comes easily; if I am not excited about something, the how becomes a punishment and a draining exercise in monotony. The how is directly connected to the what, and that is what people should really ask about.
What can’t you do? Many people have asked me that question. I used to blush and respond with a generic answer. Something like: I can’t do much. I would withhold my basic instinct of replying with the truth which is: Not much. Now, do not think of me as conceded when I write that. It is not about showering myself with accolades. When I reply to the former question with the words not much, I am actually alluding to my recipe for success. If I believe I can do anything, then I can. It is as simple as that. I have to truly believe it, and I have to be willing to do the hard work.
While there are human beings who think they have a limit on their potential, a creative threshold, an apex of innovation, I do not. I genuinely believe that if I cannot do something, it is because I have not tried it yet. It is not unattainable, I just cannot do it … yet.
I am a trier. I have always been. I wanted to learn how to sew. So, at the age of twelve, I received a sewing machine for Christmas. I chopped the bell bottoms off of an old pair of jeans and sewed them together to make a tube top. Yes, that really happened. No, I never wore it in public. I once made an unpalatable lobster bisque at age 21, so I vowed to consult the masters and work through some cookbook recipes. I wanted to learn how to make jewelry, so at the age of 25, I watched some Youtube videos, channeled my inner BeDazzler and got busy. At age 31, I realized I was not an artist, so I set out to learn how to handletter. I got some books, watched some tutorials, and started my new hobby. Now, I love it. Best of all, I finally feel artistic!
I work hard. I am not the person who is making millions of dollars from the comfort of my home, but I am happy. I am productive. I do make things happen. I try new things all the time. And I try. In the most unspecific way, I just try. There are so many things to do in life. There are so many things you have not tried to do. Trying new things gives me a zest for life. Succeeding at them makes things even better, but success is not my only goal. I like the feeling of working outside of my comfort zone. I get a rush from expanding my repertoire of capabilities.
That is me in a nutshell. I am a growth mindset thinker. And growth only comes from expanding my knowledge base and trying new things. I try hard to do anything and everything I am doing. I do the hard work. From manicuring my garden to generating private business revenue. From folding the blanket on the couch in the perfect Joanna Gaines style to cooking the creamiest butter-laden Ina Garten risotto. I just try.
To be quite honest though, I do not really try everything. If I did, I would not try my hardest. If I did not try my hardest, I would most likely fail. If I failed, I would think negatively about that activity. Instead, I think about the areas in my life in which I feel deficit or lacking. I felt uncreative, so I fixed that. I felt unable to cook, so I fixed that.
However, my husband has asked me to learn to ski for years. I am athletic. I am agile, so I could totally do it if I set my mind to it. Unlike the other areas I mentioned, I do not feel I am particularly lacking in the area of athleticism. In my eyes, learning to ski would not really make me whole. I have avoided skiing like the plague since I was a child due to the fact that injury would surely ensue. I know I could do it if I tried, I just do not feel the desire to do so. I am realistic in my growth mindset thinking. I know I can do anything I WANT to do, but if I do not truly want to do it, I decline. Growth mindset is not about becoming an insane Yes-Man/Yes-Woman; it is about knowing yourself, and allowing yourself to continually grow and change, and challenging yourself in the areas in need of improvement.
Carol Dweck wrote the book Mindset, and I feel that she literally just put my life on paper. I have always been this way. I have always believed I could do anything I put my mind to. If I cannot do something, I do not just say I cannot and forget about it. I say, “I can’t do it, yet.”
Yet. Just remember that word next time you say you cannot do something. Remember that word when your students says they cannot do something. I post this word in my classroom to remind myself and my students, to challenge themselves to continually grow and change. If you cannot do something, you just cannot do it … yet.