That’s a phrase I bet you’ve heard all your life.
When you were 5, prepared to dive bomb off the top of the playground set just like you saw in Batman.
When you were 9 and you declared you wanted to become an astronaut when you grew up.
When you were 14 and decided you wanted to go to Harvard.
When you were 17 and you told a friend you wanted to date that hottie that you had a crush on for years.
In every case, and for hundreds of others along the path of your life .. what was communicated to you was: you can’t do that.
We’ve all heard it so much, it becomes engrained into us, to the depth that it often becomes a subconscious belief that we don’t even realize is controlling us.
Either through genetics or being dropped on my head when I was young, I never seemed to absorb this belief. I don’t think it was because I was smarter or wiser or more aware than anyone — I just never believed it to the extent that it controlled my life.
I was one of the lucky ones.
I’m not saying I’ve never thought it. I’ve heard the thought in my head many times, either because someone said it or I said it to myself .. but instead of agreeing with it, I’ve usually asked, “why not?”
When I reflect back on the biggest business “wins” or successes I’ve had, there is one common thread to every single one of them — a chorus of voices around me screaming “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” and me doing it anyway.
When I first got into real estate, it was because I realized that there were some really interesting laws and rules that almost nobody knew about.
If you asked anyone in the industry about doing a creative deal based on these little known ideas, the standard answer was .. well, you know.
And I would simply say: Ok. Why?
The answer was always some combination of – it’s illegal, no one’s ever done it, that’s not allowed, we don’t allow that, you’ll create a mess, stop trying to be so creative and just follow the rules.
Being so terrible at listening to instructions, I would shrug and push forward, trying to figure out how to make it work.
And what I found almost every single time is that the real reason no one was doing it was because .. no one ever believed they could.
In real estate, that led to me buying over 50 properties in one year, using strategies and ideas that almost no one else knew or understood. It also led to me coming very close to getting fired by my broker, because I was “making waves” and doing things they didn’t like.
Because it wasn’t how they did things.
It wasn’t because I was a genius.
It was because I was willing to push past the condemnation of “you can’t do that”.
When I got involved in the veterinary industry, I was quickly told that you have to follow the rules and you can’t do anything outside of the box.
Your marketing and advertising isn’t allowed to stand out. You’re not allowed to publish your prices. You can’t offer a money back guarantee to pet owners that they’ll love working with us, or we’ll refund them.
As an aside, this is why almost all veterinary industry marketing is so horrendous, plain and simple. A bunch of monkey-see, monkey-do garbage with very little differentiation or innovation.
I’m proud of the innovative and creative marketing we did with Vets To Go that not only disrupted the industry, but led to massive growth.
I wouldn’t accept status quo with Vets To Go, and doing whatever everyone else did. And it became one of Canada’s fastest growing companies as a result.
Every single time I look into my past and focus on those major inflection points .. Every. Single. Time …
.. I find a moment when I said “kiss my ass” to that dream killing statement of “you can’t do that”.
Most of the time, people saying this are doing it from a good intention, at least in their mind.
- They don’t want to see you fail or struggle.
- They don’t want you to be embarrassed.
- They don’t want to be embarrassed by your failure.
- They’re afraid if you’re successful, you will change .. or leave them.
In other words .. the vast majority of time someone says this cancerous statement, it’s to protect them and not really about you.
My biggest and most rewarding successes have come when I had the courage to be different and to challenge the status quo.
It’s what leads to breakthroughs, and it’s just damned fun to prove some asshole wrong that said you could never do it.
Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but every time I hear “you can’t do that”, I’m tempted to say “hold my beer and watch” .. and then show them how wrong they really are.
So, put that beer down, and get it to it.
You only get this life once, so quit screwing around and letting other people’s insecurities hold back the greatness that’s inside you.
You’re fucking unperfect, and extraordinary. And I love you.