Don't EVER Tell Me I Can't Do Something

Life is full of frustration, but how you deal with that frustration can be the difference between success and whatever else happens.  Nothing gets me more frustrated than when someone tells me I can’t do something.

Your daily business life can be an immense source of frustration, and that statement above gets uttered too often: "You can’t deliver this report," or "You can’t achieve the goals laid out by a customer."  All of these are frustrating, but there’s a trick to help you turn frustration into motivation.  It’s a very simple concept and one that every innovator in the world has used, whether consciously or not.  It’s a concept called solution-oriented thinking, or “make it happen” syndrome, which goes like this: Don’t tell me we can’t.  Tell me what we need to do to make it happen! 

It seems very simple and sort of silly when you first take a look at it, but its simplicity is the reason why it works so well.  Life is nothing more than a series of challenges, and every challenge has a solution, whether you can easily see it or not.  Sometimes that solution requires a paradigm shift in order to make it work.  You have to look at the problem from a different perspective.  When you examine a challenge from an off-kilter point of view, you can often perceive a new way of accomplishing your goals.  That solution may not have been visible before, but once you see it you can never lose sight of it.

For example, have you ever looked at one of those drawings of an old man sitting on a bench, but when you squint your eyes and focus a little differently, you see a beautiful woman standing in front of the sun and smiling?  What about a Rorschach test where you see a bat and someone else sees a puppy dog?  It’s all about perception; problem-solving is really nothing more than a shift in perception.

Our business of advertising is all about perception and there are a lot of things about it that can be frustrating, but the most successful people in this business are the ones consistently able to find a new of way of doing things.  When someone comes to me and says “we can’t get this report done” or "we can't do this event," and I counter with my make-it-happen statement, it might mean shifting a budget to cover an event, or it might mean consolidating two data streams from different reports into a manual aggregation to get what we need. 

Our business exists because someone said “What if we put an ad on that Web page? What would it look like?”  Humble beginnings can beget grandiose results if you know when to shift your perspective a little bit.

This model of problem solving can seem “salesy” to many, but it's not intended to be.  It just means I’ve never encountered a problem I couldn’t solve somehow, either with a new way of attacking the issue, by bringing in new people -- or even changing the game itself. 

Changing the rules of the game is not beyond the realm of possibility, and it’s an extreme implementation of solution-oriented thinking.  When a challenge poses itself and it seems as though it cannot be solved in the existing parameters, then simply change the parameters and attempt to change the challenge itself! For example, if a customer comes to you and says they need “X, Y and Z,” ask them what the end goal is. Maybe after some discussion you’ll realize X and Y are important, but Z was just a stepping stone to get to something else, and that something else is what you can provide directly!

Try it. You just might like it. It certainly makes your day less frustrating if you approach with the idea that no single issue is unable to be solved.

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5 comments about "Don't EVER Tell Me I Can't Do Something".
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , October 3, 2012 at 10:07 a.m.
    Cory, you CANNOT gargle with your mouth closed.
  2. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging , October 3, 2012 at 12:21 p.m.
    If you can really solve any problem with just a change in perception, why the heck are you writing blog posts? Get out there and invent cold fusion, then on the next day you can cure Aids, then end all wars. We could be living in paradise before Christmas. Your talents are being totally wasted here!
  3. Zachary Cochran from CPXi , October 3, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.
    "Problem-solving is really nothing more than a shift in perception." Brilliant. Solving a problem starts in the mind, specifically with how you see the problem. Perception with wisdom will lay out the roadmap to solve the problem. But @Pete Austin, perception isn't simple, and it took all of history minus 100 years for us to being to understand (perceive) general relativity--that space and time aren't the ultimate things, but everything must be indexed to the speed of light. Eventually, perception may lead to a cure for aids or cold fusion, but that requires discipline and study and understanding to be able to perceive rightly. And some problems can't be solved (ending wars for all time) as long as the human race exists as it does--with greedy and selfish hearts.
  4. Cory Treffiletti from Oracle , October 3, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
    I write blogs because i like them and because i like being the inspiration for someone else to shift their paradigm of thought. I didn't say that I can do everything myself! :-)
  5. Jayne McMahon from Marketing Performance Group , January 2, 2013 at 5:36 p.m.
    What a great article this is. I know it's an older one, but Cory's "New Year's Resolution To Be A Good Man" article got me reading his other articles. I'd like to meet Cory someday, his thoughts and attitudes are very similar to mine. It's a rare thing in this crazy business to read somebody who thinks like a normal human being. Thank you Cory for your inspiring words. Jayne McMahon / MPG Marketing, Boca Raton, FL.