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When a leader gets pulled in too many directions …

We’ve all been taxed with choices and opportunities beyond our ability to tackle them all: Holiday party invites, an extra piece of birthday cake, etc.

The easy answer is to decline by saying “I can’t.”

However, study’s show that people that say “can’t” tend to revert back to the undesired behavior (like being overscheduled, overfed, etc.) a much higher rate than those that say “I don’t.”

For example: If the question is “Want to go watch people scratch their fingernails across a chalkboard for an hour?”

Which response gives you more power?

“No, I can’t do that.”


“No, I don’t do that.”

  • Don’t is a choice you have control over.
  • Can’t is a restriction which challenges your willpower.

This week, try swapping your can’t with a don’t and enjoy your additional power.




Mike McKenna

About the author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector leaders improve their outcomes before, during and after a planned event or unplanned crisis.

Please contact Mike via the Contact page.

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