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The Can’t Series – The Final Chapter

strategic business and executive coachingWe all are stopped in the same way by barriers we can’t see. I call this The Can’t.

You can learn how to change anything in your life; a new job, change your career, or increased success if you know how to turn can’t into can.

Most People Are Stopped Like You

If you are like most people, you have been challenged with the can’t syndrome at various times. Something is stopping you from greater career success, possibly from dealing effectively with your boss or maybe an uncooperative staff. Whatever your goal is, you can’t quite put your finger on why it eludes you. Even if you could figure it out, you’d probably be lost for a solution because the can’t syndrome acts as a blind spot.

The Way The Can’t Works

As I explained in an earlier post, the barrier starts out to help you but the way it works is to make sure you avoid any potentially painful event or circumstance that reminds you of the original circumstance. That limits your natural creativity and resourcefulness. To get past the can’t, you have to first see it and then be willing to change it. The key to change is understanding the way your brain works.

How To Get Unstuck

Recent findings from neuroscience explain how the brain is wired like a network of connections which operate along familiar patterns. It has been said that neurons that fire together, wire together. As we have recurrent thoughts, your brain creates a neural pathway to work efficiently. These patterns are based on survival. After all, the brain acts as if it needs to continually replicate similar patterns to continue survival. Survival is such a powerful motivation that your brain will run on automatically until something causes it to change.

The Blind Spot

One could say that instead of having thoughts, your thoughts are having you. Since you are not even aware of the pattern, that is the blind spot. However, we also know from neuroscience that the brain has a high degree of plasticity, or the ability to modify and change its patterns based on new thoughts. Different thoughts create different neural patterns resulting in different behavior.

How to Change Your Thoughts

To get unstuck you must uncover the thoughts holding you back. You have been thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same feelings, expecting something to change. But as Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

Thoughts emanate from a point of view or a perspective. If your perspective is one of survival, you will naturally avoid risk, innovation, and change. You can change your thoughts by adopting a different perspective other than survival. It takes some courage to change. Survival operates on fear and anxiety. This is an effective mechanism in the face of a real threat, but if the brain lives in survival mode all the time it leads to stress and rigidity over time, not open mindedness, solutions, creativity, or love. In a word, it makes you stuck.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. How to Turn Can’t Into Can

Here is a coaching exercise to help you change your thinking:

1. Think about a challenge you are facing that you would like to change. Clearly identify exactly what the challenge is.

2. Now, change your physical environment in some way—either go to a different room, change your space, or simply face in the opposite direction. Choose this new space as the source of a new perspective.

3. Close your eyes and breathe deeply three times. This helps to center you and encourages higher awareness.

4. Now think about the challenge you are facing and see it from this new, changed perspective. Proactively seek different solutions than the typical thoughts you have always thought about this challenge.

5. Choose a new thought, a solution and treat it as the absolute truth. This is important because you need to replace the old fear-based thought with the new one.

6. Use the new thought to create a simple action plan, a few small steps based on the new thinking, and follow through by acting on your plan.

This exercise works. I employ it regularly with my coaching clients. If you need support, let me know. I promise you this: if you practice this exercise—whether you are an executive who wants a promotion, a new job or even a new career—once you see The Can’t, you will be clearer about who you are, what you want and how to go about getting it.


If you like this blog post and if you are serious about change and are willing to commit time and resources, drop me a line.

I offer a free sample session that will help you clarify your goals, identify challenges, and set you on an instant action plan toward success.


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