“I can’t finish this report on time,” “I can’t find new clients,” “I can’t finish the last half mile of my workout,” “I can’t meet up with you, I’m just too busy.”
I can’t (or should I say, can) believe what a hindrance “I can’t” really is.
Sure, I’m guilty of using it, and probably use it more than I’d like to acknowledge. But it’s a weak, get-out-of-jail-free term that should be banned. It’s a two-word trap, a two-syllable trip to the land of giving up.
Never have I thought so strongly about this than after hearing Dick Hoyt speak at this year’s NAILBA conference in Dallas. Maybe you’ve heard of Dick and his son Rick, who suffers (and I use that term lightly) from a disability. They’re the people who removed the word “can’t” from their family’s vocabulary long ago.
Because of difficulties during his birth in 1962, Rick was born as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and a nonspeaking person (though he would later receive technology that allowed him to communicate). Even with what seems like a mountain of a challenge, Rick has never used the word “can’t.” That goes for his dad, Dick, too.
When doctors told Rick’s parents to put their baby in an institution when he was just eight months old, the Hoyts refused and instead agreed to raise him like any other child. Well, maybe a little differently.
Rick, with the help of his teammate dad, has completed more than 1,100 athletic events, including marathons and triathlons.
That’s not all.
In 1992 they ran/biked (Dick ran while pushing Rick’s special wheelchair some days and biked with Rick’s seat attached to the front other days) across the U.S. Over 45 straight days, they covered 3,770 miles from California to Massachusetts. Why? Because they can, and because it’s what Rick loves.
“After one of our first races, Rick looked at me and said, ‘Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.’” From that moment on, Team Hoyt, as they are known, has competed in 70 marathons and 252 triathlons, with six of them being Ironman distance events.
Even more amazing, Dick didn’t know how to swim when he committed to his first triathlon.