At this risk of being provocative, I am not a huge fan of ‘can’t’ in the workplace.
We are all given pretty much the same number of hours during the working day. We largely have the same kit and equipment, facilities and the like.
So just how is it that some manage to get so much more done?
How can it be that output varies so hugely? Why do some people appear to make inroads while others don’t, or make a different impact to others?
I think it is a belief in self and purpose. The difference may be down to a fulfilling role that brings a huge amount of joy and pride.
To be able to say: "I did that, and I did it well," whatever the circumstances is a just a fantastic gift to yourself.
'Can't' is sometimes an easy excuse to hide behind.
But if others with the same support, training and opportunities are able to achieve what you've deemed too difficult, it's worth questioning whether 'can't' is probably just ‘won’t.’ Particularly if your colleague is doing it and you're not.
It may be you that's telling yourself you can't do something, or perhaps this is a mindset you see in others.
If a person is content to let others do more, commit more, fill their day, and even go above and beyond to make up for what others ‘can’t’ do, then that is their choice.
But it's worth knowing and understanding that this rarely, if ever, goes unnoticed.
Those who have the drive, determination and willingness to embrace more of a 'can’ and ‘will’ mindset will very quickly spot the excuses.
Getting good at challenging ourselves
Respect, improvement and discipline all start with ourselves.
To explore, learn and grow takes effort and, at times, a fair dose of discomfort.
Personal growth means to challenge ourselves, and this can be difficult to deal with. It can mean getting things wrong, and sometimes outright failure.
But every misstep or failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Mastery is made up of masses of attempts at improvement and betterment, all which are crucial on the path to progress.
I realise that this all comes from my perspective in that I am a competitive type. But it's a competitive world, and getting ever more so.
Yet I would add that I largely compete with myself.
I seek small improvements, new skills, new people to interact with. Sometimes this can translate as finally getting to that bit of the software I have yet to master, or making that call I have been putting off.
Seek help where it's needed, but more importantly, seek to help others as best and as much as you can.
Equally, if say a colleague or one of your peers is doing more than you, putting in the requisite hours, progressing faster, gaining more referrals or becoming more adept at something, it's probably worth taking some time out to assess why.
Have they really had more training, or as is often the fallback position, are they really more ‘lucky’? Or have they had the same opportunity and time as everyone else?
Perhaps those high achievers have committed to do their utmost to live up to their abilities. Perhaps they have demonstrated a keen work ethic and a strong commitment to both themselves and their employer.
It's likely they have used their experience and curiosity to build in improvement and challenge to their working week when others have not.
It may be uncomfortable to realise, but for those who commit, who realise that creative tension and self-challenge is worth the pain - that is what sets them apart and gets them noticed.
At the end of the day, for me it boils down to this:
Turn up, do the work, and commit to improvement. Try and do all this while staying grounded, and helping others if you possibly can along the way.
Genuinely, I believe that’s what it takes to be recognised by those around you as committed and engaged.
It’s absolutely not about being viewed as the best, but being recognised for working towards being the best you can be.
It's amazing how others who have committed themselves to the same cause will rally to support, as positive people love being with others of the same mindset.
Decide which kind of person you want to be, then work towards that and towards being a contributor to the greater good.
Only you can be the final judge on all this. Only you will know deep down if you can and will, or if there's a chance you might be hiding behind excuses.