Change the Negative Story You Tell Yourself

I ran my first half-marathon in Spain with no training.  It was painful.

I remember pulling out my basketball shoes — the only gym shoes I owned at the time – and finding some clothes to run in.

Photo by Taylor Smith

Then, I wrote a motivational quote on a notecard that I taped to the back of my discman.  To my uninitiated runner’s mind, that’s all I needed to climb every mountain through the hot and rocky hills of Valencia.

I finished that half-marathon….barely, but I did it.

I Cannot

I’ve since ditched the basketball shoes (and the ex who gave them to me), but the quote has forever stayed with me.  It read:

“When a man says, I cannot, he has made a suggestion to himself.  He has weakened his chances of accomplishing that which otherwise could have been accomplished.”

-Muhammad Ali

That day, every time I thought about giving up, I gingerly flipped my discman over, careful not to make the CD skip and read the quote. When I started walking as the sun beat unforgivingly on me, I read the quote.  When the intimidating hills threatened to make me quit, I read the quote.

It’s out under the hot sun that our mindset is developed.  It was there that I honed my ability to push beyond my self-imposed limits.

How We Teach Mindset

I’m now working to pass this mindset on to my son.

He often resorts to telling me that he can’t, and you know what I do?  I simply flip the proverbial discman over and begin to read the quote.

I say, “When a man says…”

And he continues, “’When a man says, I cannot.’ What’s next mommy?”

I prompt him, “’When a man says, I cannot, he has made a suggestion to himself. He has weakened his chances of accomplishing that which otherwise could have been accomplished.’”

We are taught mindset from a young age.  Our parents set those initial limits for us, then our teachers and then our friends.  The mindset that sticks is the one that we listen to and play on repeat.

What You Play On Repeat

Perhaps the success you long for is behind the story you have on repeat to yourself.

Perhaps this is why you’re not seeing greater success in your business.  Maybe it’s why you’ve stalled and are unable to get started.  Maybe it’s the reason you feel stuck and you’re not sure how to get un-stuck?

So often, we talk about the HaTeRZ!  But did you know that often the loudest negative voice we need to silence is our own.

The Narrative You Created for Yourself

If you’ve been at the same place for a long time, it’s probably due to the narrative you’ve created for yourself.

Do you ever find yourself saying statements to yourself like,

“I always do _______ wrong” or

“I never seem to be able to do __________ right”?

Guilty!  I do this all the time.

The result is inaction.

How can you change the story you tell yourself about yourself?

The first place to start is re-defining your self-imposed limits.

What would you go for, right now, if you knew you wouldn’t fail?


One of the greatest tools you have available is your mindset. Your mindset is your ability to stay strong and resilient in tough situations. Mindset is the thinking you need to have the guts to start a project from scratch, launch a new idea for your organisation or pitch new business.

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