Something Better than “I think I Can”


Traditional wisdom says self-affirmation builds optimism and confidence. Dispel doubt, discouragement, and fear by repeating things like: “I’m awesome.” “I can do this.”

What if the Little Engine that Could – “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” – was wrong?

Self-question rather than self-affirm:

Best selling author, Daniel Pink undermines traditional, “I think I can,” philosophy in his new book, “To Sell is Human.”

Traditional wisdom suggests, “Declaring an unshakable belief in your inherent awesomeness inflates a sturdy raft that can keep you bobbing in an ocean of rejection.

Alas, the social science shows something different…” Daniel Pink.

Children’s author, Shel Silverstein agrees when he says, “thinking you can just ain’t enough.”

Can I?

Pink explains that asking, “Can I do this?” is more powerful than repeating, “I can do this.” (Apologies to positive self-talkers – supportive research)

“Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations. Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within.” Daniel Pink.

Ask, “Can I do this?” before facing your next challenge and jot down the reasons you can.

Stop repeating, “I’m confident,” when you’re not. There’s something better than, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Pink says Bob the Builder nails it when he asks, “Can we fix this?


One more step – Developing others:

Spend more time asking, “How can you do this?” and less on, “I believe in you.” It’s true that believing in others enhances their confidence. Believing in others more than they believe in themselves is part of leadership. Pink suggests that asking rather than telling enhances confidence.

Buy: “To Sell is Human.”

How might self-questioning result in confidence?

How might asking, “How can you do this?” apply to parenting, dealing with colleagues, young leaders, or employees?

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