“When you believe and think ‘I can,’ you activate your motivation, commitment, confidence, concentration and excitement – all of which relate directly to achievement.” (Dr. Jerry Lynch)
Motivation, commitment, confidence, concentration and excitement, those sound like 5 keys to success in any endeavor. And all are activated by first convincing myself that “I can” do something. When I am convinced that I can do something, I am unstoppable, and when I am convinced that I cannot, I am immovable.
Usually I think of these in the opposite order. I commit myself to something, find motivation, concentrate hard, get excited, build up my confidence, and then I believe that I can. This quote turns that idea on its ear and says that first I must believe, then the others will follow. And I think Lynch is right.
On the back of the cupboard door in my bathroom hangs a shelf. It is handmade of poplar wood. There are 4 shelves that are about 3 inches deep, and 5 or 6 inches tall. They all have a dowel across the front that acts as a fence to hold things in place when the door opens and closes. I built that shelf, and sometimes I still marvel at how well it came out.
More than 10 years ago I got the idea for the shelf. I wanted to make use of that space to help organize things in the bathroom. I started by looking around for something pre-made that I could hang in that spot, but couldn’t find anything that maximized the use. So, I decided to try my hand at making something.
Now, I am not a woodworker. There have been many projects that I have undertaken using wood that ended badly. I tend to be all thumbs with tools, in part because I am left handed. There was every reason for me to believe going into the shelf project that I would fail. But for some reason, that day, I convinced myself I could do it.
I went to Home Depot with an idea and a sketch. While I was there I assembled the pieces I thought I would need and headed to my garage. So confident was I that I didn’t even buy extra materials. I had calculated what I needed and bought enough for the job with minimal waste.
I started the project on a Friday after work. My wife was away at a function so I knew I had all evening. With only a break for dinner, I spent the evening in the garage. The next morning I hung the shelf in the cupboard, and it has been there ever since.
I succeeded in that project because I convinced myself I could do it, then set about the task of getting it done. I found myself motivated, committed and confident to achieve. My concentration level was high, and my excitement built as I worked through the process of figuring out how to make it work. I am sure that an experienced woodworker would have completed it in half the time, and made it look 10 times more elegant, but that doesn’t matter. What mattered to me then was that I had accomplished it. Today we use those shelves without a thought about their origin. They are sturdy and useful and will remain there as long as that cupboard door exists.
If I had waited until I built some skills so I could find my confidence, or waited for motivation and commitment to overcome my doubt, those shelves would not exist. I succeeded with that project because I started with a belief that I could accomplish the task, then worked out how to do it along the way.
I think there is a virtuous cycle at work. Because I was successful with that shelf, I have had the confidence to believe I could accomplish other projects. I am still no woodworker, but I have become proficient enough to do the basics around my house. The increase in confidence that came from finishing that shelf became the foundation of my belief that I could do complete other projects.
Motivation, commitment, confidence, concentration and excitement are needed to be successful at anything I try to do. Sometimes believing that I can is the catalyst that ignites them all!