“I Can’t” vs. “I Choose Not To”

user Darren Gold
calendar

Recently, I was on a much-needed vacation with my family. It was an opportunity to unwind and disconnect…a chance to wake up late, take long walks, eat well, and exercise. The particular place where I was staying had some tennis courts and a professional instructor on staff. One of my favorite things to do is to take a lesson. It’s a great workout and it allows me to play a sport that I love and that I don’t do enough of on my own.

On this particular day, I was hitting with a pro in his mid-twenties. It was a hot day, with early morning temperatures already above 80 degrees. The instructor was pushing me hard. About 45 minutes into the lesson, I struggled to get to a ball. Exhausted, I put my hands on my knees, and said, “I can’t.”

Within seconds, I caught myself. “What do I mean I can’t?” I asked myself. If one of my children’s lives was at risk, I would have easily gotten to the ball. Why did I reflexively question my ability, I wondered. I turned to the instructor and corrected myself. “I actually can…I chose not to,” I said. He looked at me bewildered. Let’s face it. This is not how normal human beings behave and speak to each other.

Acting out of choice, in every part of your life, is always more empowering and effective.

We are accustomed to creating excuses for ourselves without questioning them. So accustomed are we to this default way of being, that we rob ourselves of the possibility of taking responsibility for our lives. This is what I had done. In the moment of saying “I can’t,” I fell victim to a set of beliefs about my age, the weather, my being tired from my busy schedule. And in the moment, I got to be right and I got to feel good about myself. This is the short-term payoff of a victim mindset. But it comes at a steep price. I deprived myself of my agency to choose…to be in control of the actions I take and don’t take. And while this was just a simple game of tennis, how you play games is how you live your entire life.

For the next 15 minutes of the lesson, every part of my game occurred to me as a set of conscious choices. It didn’t mean that I got to every single ball, or that I necessarily went all out on every single point (although I believe I did). It meant that the actions I took or didn’t take were the result of conscious choice. Acting out of choice, in every part of your life, is always more empowering and effective.

I had a great lesson that morning. Not so much the tennis instruction itself (although that was very good), but the learning that occurred as a result of a powerful shift in how I made meaning of my circumstances. A shift that began as a belief that there was little I could do to affect my situation, became a powerful declaration that I always have a choice in every situation in every part of my life.

For additional tools to lead a more extraordinary life, visit www.darrenjgold.com. Darren’s new book, Master Your Code, is launching in October, 2019.

Back to TriumIQ

Let’s Talk

Contact Us

Trium IQ

Be a Step-Down Leader: A Radical, New Paradigm for Leading in Anxious Times

Your primary job as a leader – in your family, community, or career – is to lower…

Read

VIDEO | Lightspeed Venture Partners Partner, Arif Janmohamed: Trium’s Expertise Applied to Venture Capital Firms

Lightspeed Venture Partners Partner Arif Janmohamed shares how Trium applies its unique expertise to Venture Capital firms.

Watch

VIDEO | MX Interim CEO & President, Shane Evans: Coaching through a Leadership Transition

MX Interim Chief Executive Officer and President Shane Evans shares the impact of Trium’s coaching through his transition to CEO of the company.

Watch

VIDEO | Zoom COO, Aparna Bawa: Advice to Leaders Considering Engaging a Coach

Zoom Chief Operating Officer Aparna Bawa shares her advice for leaders considering engaging a coach to support their development.

Watch

If You Want to Survive a Downturn, Invest in Leadership

We are all starting to feel the effects of the downturn and I’ve seen a lot of…

Read

How a Pry and Resist spiral between CEOs and CXOs is toxic to company culture, collaboration, & growth

A trace of “Pry and Resist” naturally exists in every leader-subordinate relationship. But for growth-stage CEOs (particularly…

Read

Three traits of a transformational leader

What qualities do leaders need to take their organization on a transformational journey: converting a seemingly far-off…

Read
Andrew Blum Clients Arif Janmohamed, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, Aparna Bawa, COO at Zoom, and Daniel Dines, CEO at UiPath

VIDEO | Executives share their experience of being coached by Trium Founder & Chairman, Andrew Blum

Clients Aparna Bawa, COO of Zoom, Daniel Dines, CEO of UiPath and Arif Janmohamed, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners talk about their coaching experience with Andrew Blum, Founder and Chairman of The Trium Group.

Watch

Navigating Web3 | A Scenario Planning Toolkit for Leaders

Uncharted Waters Imagine you are the captain of a ship at sea. You look on your radar…

Read

The Future of Work

Return-to-office versus remote is becoming this generation’s defining debate about the future of work. The pandemic proved…

Read

Culture: An Overlooked Superpower of the C-Suite

In the first of a series of short dialogues about organizational culture, Trium Partners Catherine Gray and…

Read

VIDEO | Realtor.com CEO, David Doctorow: Working with Practical Experts at Trium

Realtor.com Chief Executive Officer David Doctorow shares how Trium’s unique blend of data and practicality have fostered lasting change.

Watch
Decision crossroads

The Real ROI of Executive Coaching

Looking at the stock market since 1930, an investor who missed the best 10 days each decade…

Read

How Do Destructive Leaders Attract Followers?

Examining the conformers and colluders who make destructive leadership possible.   KEY POINTS The toxic triangle posits…

Read

No More War

How can a world expect peace when each of us has yet to lay down the weapons…

Read

Three Critical Myths About Feedback

There is no doubt that the giving and receiving of feedback is one of the critical aspects…

Read