Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What if I Can?

Photo Credit:  Karpati Gabor at

I’m not always the best at positive thinking, but I do try to work at it.  Hard.  Instead of asking myself questions like, “What if I don’t?  What if I won’t?  What if I can’t?” – I try to remind myself to ask, “What if I DO?  What if I WILL?  What if I CAN?”

There is something to be said about being positive.  It makes the impossible come within our grasp.  It makes us optimistic, happier, easier to be around, and more attractive overall, really.  Instead of being desperately life-draining to others and ourselves, we become more life-giving when we look for the positive.  I read a perfect example of an upbeat attitude just the other day (from Mikey’s Funnies):

A confident little boy was practicing baseball.  He said: "I'm going to be the greatest baseball player in the world!"  Then he threw the ball up, made a huge swing, and missed.

He picked up the ball another time, said, "I'm going to be the greatest baseball player in the world!" threw the ball up, took a great big swing, and missed again.

Once more, he said, "I'm going to be the greatest baseball player in the world!" threw the ball in the air, made his biggest swing yet, and missed the ball a third time.

He dropped his bat, raised both his arms to the sky, and cheered wildly, "Hooray! Hooray!  I'm the greatest pitcher in the whole wide world!!"

Positive thinking.

My son and I had a discussion recently.  We were talking about all of the sources of energy that a car could run on (in the past, present, and future) – wood, gas, diesel, solar, electricity, compressed air, hydrogen, steam, etc.  Then, I said, “Hey, what if our cars could run on positive energy?”  He looked at me kinda funny because we had recently had a conversation about being more positive and looking for the pluses instead of all the minuses.

I said, “Wouldn’t that be something?  What if the only cars on the road were folks who were sending out positive vibes?  What if our cars came to a screeching halt the moment our thoughts and words veered down a negative path?”  (Food for thought anyhow.)  I’m wondering how often my car would be pulled over in a ditch somewhere until I got myself back on the right track in my thinking?  Hmmm…

The “I can” attitude will get us so much further than the “I can’t” one.  Someone in particular comes to mind after reading his autobiography.  He said, “Just look at me:  I’m five foot ten and a hundred fifty-two pounds.  I wear glasses, speak with a lisp, and have a physique that makes it appear I’ve been afflicted with scurvy most of my life.  I ranked low in my graduating class of two seventy-eight coming out of high school.  And here I am, a head football coach at Notre Dame.”

This once rail-thin kiddo with a pronounced speech impediment set his sights on being significant.  He said that, “Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant.  The difference between those two is that when you die, your success comes to an end.  When you are significant, you continue to help others be successful long after you are gone.  Significance lasts many lifetimes.  That is why people teach, why people lead, and why people coach.”

His positive energy is contagious and his name is Lou Holtz.  He is the winner of three national Coach of the Year honors, the only coach ever to lead six different schools to season-ending bowl games, the ninth-winningest college football coach and ultimately one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in history.

My husband and son had the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a fundraising event where Lou Holtz was the speaker (a BIG thank you to my awesome sister-in-law, Kerri!!).  Without a doubt, that evening will be forever etched in their memories.  They took a picture with Mr. Holtz and he even especially autographed his book for my son – “Hope this book inspires you as much as I inspired Peggy.”  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched the Discover Card Peggy commercials on YouTube, so this was a pretty big deal for my little man.

My son so graciously let me read his prized book, “Wins, Losses, and Lessons,” and I wanted to share a few pieces of wisdom that stood out for me.  These quotes are taken from a speech that Holtz gave his struggling Notre Dame team when he approached them for the first time as their head coach:

“I ask each of you to follow three basic rules:  Do what is right.  Do your very best.  Treat others like you’d like to be treated.  Those rules answer the three basic questions I’m going to ask of each of you, and I expect you to ask me and the other coaches.  The questions are:  Can I trust you?  Are you committed?  And do you care about me?  This is what I believe and practice.”

He went on to say, “These three rules are all you need, whether you are a coach, a player, a parent, a child, an employer, or an employee.  Everyone you meet asks three questions mentally:  Can I trust you?  Are you committed to excellence?  Do you care about me?  The three rules answer these three questions positively.  If you can trust someone, know he is committed to excellence, and cares about you, hug him and never let him go, because he is a winner.”

Holtz wrapped it up with an example that I feel can be applied to life in general:  “We’re not going to win football games because I’m here any more than someone can fix a flat tire by changing the person driving the car.  If we’re going to be successful, we have to get rid of excuses for why we can’t win.”

Love that attitude, don’t you?  I’m sure Lou Holtz did not get where he is today by saying, “What if I can’t?”  I’m certain that he got there by saying, “What if I CAN?”

But, Mr. Holtz doesn’t want to be known for the successes he had as a coach or even as a public speaker, because success dies.  He wants to be known for being significant - for helping others to better their lives through word and deed.  Holtz says that significance is forever.

Thank you, Coach, for the motivation to be better…to do better…to impact lives…to be… significant.  I will always remember to ask, “What if I CAN?”

No comments:

Post a Comment