Can It!

I’m not a runner.
I’m not a writer.
I’m not a creative person.
I’m not a leader.

We all have them. The “I’m not” statements. The reasons we won’t pursue various goals, directions, or positions. It’s just not us. It’s not in our make-up. It’s not in our DNA.

We’ve accepted that.

But maybe we’ve accepted some things that don’t have to be true. Maybe, just maybe, we can change the “I’m not-s” to “I am-s”.

Maybe we can change the “I can’t-s” to “I can-s”.

For years I said I wasn’t a runner. I accepted the fact. It was true, because I didn’t run. When I came across friends who ran marathons, I looked at them in awe, as if they were some sort of super-humans, no doubt gifted with an abundance of athleticism (and perhaps a shortage of common sense). I was not like them, and thus, not a runner.

When I came across people who wrote, I was awed by their ability to organize their thoughts and creative ideas, and their courage to assume those ideas had enough merit to share with the world. I didn’t take time to reflect on whatever thoughts I may or may not have. I didn’t take time to explore my creative soul. I kind of assumed that I didn’t have anything of note to say or offer to the world. So I wasn’t a writer.

I accepted these things. They were true.

Sort of.

But they didn’t have to be.

Through a series of health and fitness issues over the past few years, I have morphed into a runner. I had been unwittingly sedentary. The size of clothing that was comfortable to wear gradually increased. I was oblivious to the changes, until one day the scale looked like it converted to multiplication instead of simple addition. This shocking realization set me on a course of slow, sustainable transformation. Through reading and taking small steps, I changed how I view food and fitness. Food became fuel. Fitness became fun. As my thoughts and actions changed slowly, so did my body. After weeks of running, gradually witnessing my stamina increase, and my weight decrease, I realized – I am a runner.

I had a similar journey with writing. As a teacher, I was expected to teach about this nebulous topic, that there was no clear curriculum provided for. A subject that I had no real memory of how I had been taught, and no great love of the instruction I did remember. Writing was a school thing. A series of painful tasks to be endured
that no doubt would be accompanied by copious amounts of red ink. Yet through a determined focus to learn about the craft of writing, and explore my own reservoir of creative ideas, I began writing. Awkwardly, with small steps, and memorable encouragements, I found a voice. My voice. Gradually, over time I realized that I was becoming an observer of the world around me, and within me. I sought opportunities to share the insights, and stories. I wrote often, and realized I had become a writer.

I’ve learned much about both running and writing. I see tremendous benefits to each, and truly believe their is merit in both pursuits for many people.

But this is not about running. Or writing.

This is about re-examining some beliefs or statements we have accepted. This is about honestly assessing the truth behind the curtain.

So what are your “I’m not-s”?

What are your “I can’t-s”?

In Amber McRee Turner’s book SWAY, the family has a unique little tradition called “Can it!”.

“Stacked on old shelves are dozens of jars with little notes crammed inside. Complaints. Bad ideas. Thoughts they don’t want to think anymore. Instead of canned goods, they call them “canned bads”. Can It!, means to put it in a jar and get over it.”

I love this visual.

“I’m not a runner” was a bad idea I accepted.
“I can’t write” was a falsehood I bought into.

I’ve chosen to Can it! These are toxic thoughts that stifle the me I was created to be. They are “canned bads”; ideas I can live without.



5 thoughts on “Can It!

  1. What a beautiful post — you certainly ARE a writer, but more importantly, you are a reflective thinker. This is exactly the type of growth mindset that we hope to instill in future generations, but it’s also important for us, as a member of the human race. Thank you for your contribution!

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  2. Great post, Greg. It’s important to remember that it might take some time, hard work, and inner reflection but we can turn our can’t-s into can-s. You had two great examples with running & writing!

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  3. But the can’ts and the I’m not’s are my way outs right now! But, I see your point. I still think I’m not a writer. I’m a babbler. I’d like to figure out how to make my babblings into writing. Slowly 🙂

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  4. Love this Greg! I feel the same way you did about teaching writing. There was never a curriculum, and I have no recollection of how I was taught (which explains my love affair with commas. Don’t worry, we’re on a “break”). Great post! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Awesome post Greg! I was exactly who you were. I am becoming exactly what you are now. Writing was always my least favorite activity. Running was to stay conditioned for soccer, football, ultimate frisbee, or any other sport I played. I use to hear people say, “I ran 5 miles” and I thought THAT was impossible. I love the person I am becoming because I am getting rid of the word “can’t”!

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