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What are the top three things you think you can’t do? Go ahead and think about it. Time moves as quickly or as slowly as you need it to in InternetLand. I bet it didn’t take you long. Whatever it was that came to mind, rest assured that those are exactly the things you must go and do NOW.
The reason Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “Do the one thing you think you cannot do” makes so much sense is that if this thing were not important to you, it would not be so top of mind for you. In fact, the things that you most think you cannot do are actually the things that your heart desires to do but that your mind and the rest of the world has talked you out of.
There are a million things I might not be able to do in this world, but only the important things that I actually secretly want are the things that I most think I cannot do. For example, here is a list of things that I don’t think I can do:
1. Win the U.S. Open.
2. Climb Mt. Everest.
3. Perform a successful open-heart surgery.
However, I don’t care that I can’t do those things. And the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that with enough time, training, and belief, I could accomplish those things. But they aren’t important to me. They are not the ONE THING I THINK I CANNOT DO.
With your ONE THING that you think you cannot do, you know exactly what it is. You know what it is because you’ve thought about it multiple times. The thought crept into your mind and whispered in your ear, and you shooed it away. “I don’t have enough money/education/experience for that!” you told it, and the thought slithered away in the face of your doubt.
I don’t know about you, but my one thing is kind of embarrassing. It’s like, “Who are you to say this is the one thing you cannot do?” But now that I’ve started this article and identified it, and realized how embarrassing it is for me to say it, I know I have to put it out there. It’s nothing new. It’s predictable. And I’ve said similar things before. But now that I’ve realized that it’s my ONE THING—the one thing I think I cannot do—I know I have to go and do it.
I don’t think I can be more successful than Oprah.
Now, you may be saying, “Who in their right mind wants or thinks they can be even one-quarter as successful as Oprah?” Well, I do. I think I can be as successful as Oprah. I define success by one’s ability to surround themselves with the experiences that bring them happiness. Obviously, you don’t need to be a billionaire to be happy. But what I think makes Oprah happy is inspiring people, helping people, experiencing beauty, and opening peoples’ hearts and minds. Few people in the world have the power to do these things like Oprah can and on the level that she does. I want that too—the magnificent ability to influence and empower people around the world and make their lives better.
But I don’t think I can do it better than Oprah. I just don’t.
However, the wonderful thing about Ms. Winfrey is that this is exactly what she would tell me to do:
Go and do it even better than I did.
Well now that I’ve admitted that I don’t think I can do it, I guess that’s exactly what I have to go do. Because if it wasn’t important to me, I wouldn’t care enough to tell myself I can’t do it. It would simply be a non-thought to me. But it’s not. It’s my ONE THING.