Have you ever decided that you couldn’t do something?
Maybe it was run a marathon, bake, or do calculus. Maybe you decided that you couldn’t play the piano, guitar, or figure out texting.
For me, it was coffee. When I graduated from Cornell with few job prospects, I went for entry level jobs. I ended up as an assistant to a CEO of a CD-ROM company, with an understanding that in 6 months he’d give me an opportunity to work in marketing.
I was a great assistant. I knew how to deliver service — I had bartended and waitressed for years. However. I didn’t want to be too good at assisting, if you catch my drift. I didn’t want to be irreplaceable.
And so, I made a terrible cup of coffee. Just terrible.
We had a coffee pot and grounds, and I was supposed to clean it and prep.I was responsible for coffee, and coffee service to clients. How is it that an Ivy League-educated girl, with bartending and waitressing experiencing could NOT make a decent cup of coffee?
She didn’t want to.
I know I’m not the only one who does things like this. Last weekend, I was visiting my parents in Florida, and had to do some laundry. Laundry is a pretty straightforward activity. I walked toward the machine, arms full of clothes, and asked a couple questions over my shoulder. My mother said, “Don’t ask your father, he doesn’t understand laundry.”
My father is a smart man. He graduated from an engineering college and made a long career for himself in business. He knows stuff, especially about geography and history. He’s a fantastic card player.
I looked at my father and said, “That’s quite a racket you’ve got going on. You’ve got mom convinced you can’t do laundry?” He smiled without making eye contact. “I do other things.”
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
This choice, what you can or cannot do, comes up all the time for me with coaching clients. I have clients who have decided that they have no financial skills, or no cooking skills, or no time. Now financial and cooking skills are not talents you are born with — they are things you learn, either by exposure through your family routine as a child, or active study as an adult.
Not having enough time? Everyone has the same 24 hours. It’s how you use them. Is your commute too long? Are you watching too much TV? Vegging out with Facebook? Are you not getting enough sleep which renders you less effective all day long? There are always reasons.
Personal choices are active. If I don’t want to make good coffee, I’ll never make good coffee. If you don’t want to cook, you’ll never pick up the skill. And if you decide to be excellent managing your finances, find a career where you’ll make a lot of money, or climb that fence, you’ll do whatever you believe you can do.