I’ve picked up on a trend in the marketplace. It looks (and sounds) like, “I can’t because…”

And it’s one of the most dangerous trends in all of business history.

But that’s not the complete story. That’s only one angle on one part of the problem. Maybe we’d be better off understanding the landscape first. For that, we’ll need a story.

I was around 15 years old and I walked into a smelly, humid room with white walls, no decorations, and a rubber mat lining the entire floor. The sign on the door said “tryouts,” but it wasn’t necessary. We all knew why we were there.

Up to that point, I had only participated in team sports. Baseball, soccer…the types of activities where you can live or die in the group. You could hide, in the group. But as I bounced into the training room for high school wrestling tryouts, I was struck by the fact that I could no longer hide amongst my teammates. My success would live or die…with me.

I was quick and I was strong enough for my weight division, but I didn’t like to hurt people, and wrestling requires a little bit of that. You need to be okay with placing your opponent in a little bit of pain. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea.

At least, not at first.

Then I tasted a win. I pinned my opponent in my first match. I don’t think I hurt him, but the truth of the matter was that I didn’t like being spun around and slammed to the ground. I had a decision to make: him or me.

I chose me.

And from wrestling, I took on swimming. Another individual sport. And from swimming, I took on cross-country running. Yet another individual sport. My wins — and losses — were mine and mine alone. Sure, I was part of a team, but if I won, it didn’t mean that my team would as well. The idea of team scoring with individual sports made sense from a league perspective, but I completely lost touch with the reality of hiding my successes or failures in a group.

If I wanted to win, it was on me to win. Whether my team won or lost, I didn’t care. Not in a jerk sort of way, but in the way that my wins and losses were highlighted regardless of how the team performed. If I won, I knew I did my part. If the team lost, I knew it wasn’t because of me, because I never gave less than 100% when I was in the water or on the path.

But before I was a wrestler, or swimmer, or runner, I was a short stop in little league. Playing little league, I can’t remember how many times I thought, “if I miss the ball, the left fielder will get it.” Maybe it was my immaturity or maybe it was the dynamic of knowing I could fail and no one would notice, but when it came to giving 100% in baseball, I can honestly say I’m not sure I ever did. Sad, right?

Fast forward.

Where are you in your business or career or in reaching your goals? Are you a version of me as a little league short stop? Or, are you a version of me as a wrestler, swimmer, or runner? In fact, forget the analogies. Are you winning regardless of how your team is performing, or are you hiding within the group, giving less than 100%, in hopes that your failure to give it all will go unnoticed?

At the end of the day, the most important factor in your success (or failure) is you.

I started this article by saying that one of the most dangerous trends in business right now looks (and sounds) like, “I can’t because…” What exactly do I mean by that? I mean that with all of the tools and knowledge and pathways available, we now have even fewer reasons not to reach our full potential. And I’m not only talking about being an entrepreneur or launching something on your own. I also mean how you are performing in the context of your “team”…your department, your cohort, your company…your family.

When’s the last time you said to yourself that you couldn’t do a good job on something because the “boss won’t let me” or “there’s no budget for it”? Kind of like when I, as short stop in little league, said “I can’t catch that ball because it’s going too fast…but the left fielder behind me will get it,” right? Would I have said the same thing if there was no left fielder behind me? Would you say the same thing if your boss said, “go ahead,” or there was a budget for it?


Because at the end of the day, the most important factor in your success is you.

It’s not your boss. It’s not your department budget, or your experience or credentials or opposition or competition or the temperature or the time of day or the time of month or your spouse or your kids or your ______.

It’s you.

What will you do about that little nugget of truth? Continue to hide in the group? Blame outside circumstances on your inability to achieve? Say that it’s not you, but something else? You’ve just been set free, so how will you use your freedom?

Wait, how was I set free?

The curtain has been pulled back. You’re invited to forget about the person in front of you or behind you or beside you, and be your own parachute. There’s no one and nothing holding you back from winning.

Except you.

Where do you go from here? Your full potential, of course. Let me help you get there.

© 2015 Brock Shinen. All rights reserved.