Daniel Burke-Aguero Blog

The C Word

I am about to be a dad for the first time.

My wife and I are expecting our baby boy on May 7th (so soon!) and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s crazy to think that in a few short weeks, there will be a small human in our home completely dependent upon our love and care for survival. All of my clients who have kids (some of whom their kids are grown and gone) tell me to get ready for some sleepless nights, some tired days, poopy diapers, and exercising patience but overall, the best time ever.

It’s got me thinking lately about what it means to be a parent. I’m no expert yet; I don’t think I ever will be nor will I claim to lay it out here but there is a story of another dad I want to share.

In their house, one of the few big rules is that you do not say the C word. They do this with the hopes of instilling a mindset in their son. As a parent, he explained, “We never say that we ‘can’t’ do something. We have to try and give it our best and ask for help if needed. The first step toward accomplishing anything big in life is believing we can.”  What a powerful lesson to instill into a kid at a young age.

I think we could all take a minute and ask ourselves this same question. Do you actually believe you can hit your goals? Or are you unconsciously programming yourself to fall short?

Whether you think you can or you can’t; you are correct.

Back in 2010, I was in Nashville, TN for a leadership summit and the keynote speaker was Rob Lillwall. He was a tall, skinny, fairly frail looking man with wispy hair and a light European accent. His talk centered on this same idea: with the right beliefs, you can accomplish far more than you initially thought possible.

In his talk and his book, Cycling Home from Siberia, Lillwall details how he booked a one-way flight to (you guessed it) Siberia and spent the next three and a half years (any guesses?) on a bicycle, pedaling his way home every single day.

I can’t even wrap my head around riding a bike from our house to the grocery store and back.

Rob paints this vivid picture of crossing the rainforests of Fiji, the deserts of Australia, and the Himalayan mountains with essentially his entire house on his back and his bicycle. He spoke of the days where it felt like he couldn’t go on. About how his self-talk, telling himself he could make it a few more miles, helped him go just a bit longer.  About how he was robbed, taken advantage of, and had his gear break down only to find a way to continue onwards.

I almost envision Rob as a human version of that children’s book where the little train tries to make it up the hill, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

I love stories like his, triumph in the face of insurmountable odds. Looking at history, the people who accomplished big things BELIEVED they could do it.

Whether you think you can or you can’t; you are correct.

Henry Ford is credited with this idea. Coming from a person who built an automotive empire, often this idea is used to spark confidence in the high stakes world of business and entrepreneurship. Think big! Do more! Accomplish!

Yet the question to ask yourself is: where else does it manifest? How do you view yourself in regards to your relationships, personal decisions, finances, your potential?

When I stop to think about my life today, I realize I can catch myself looking at other people and thinking, “I could never accomplish that. I can’t see myself ever making it there. I’m not good enough to be up there.”

Now I know that changing my mindset will not magically cause me to be a seven-figure earner next week or to have more degrees or anything like that. But the first step (always the hardest) is changing my thoughts around the challenge ahead. Do I believe I can do it? Maybe not today but someday?

Whether you think you can or you can’t; you are correct.

We are a few short weeks out from bringing home a new family member. The nursery is ready(ish), the baby showers are done(ish). We have a plan in place(ish). But we will be fine either way. People have been having babies for thousands of years and we will be no different. We will have our own struggles and challenges but my hope is that as our son grows up, I can make a conscious effort to instill in him the hope that he can do big things if he wants to. That he can make a difference in the world. To be hopeful and to bring joy to the world without fear of rejection.

When Dave and Emmie Brown first had me over for dinner and I met Dawson for the first time, it really struck a chord with the type of parent I want to be.  To lead by example and to be someone who strives to make a difference in the lives of others.

I don’t know if we will have a rule like the Browns do but I too want to be a family that doesn’t allow the C word.

So I’ll propose a challenge if you’ve if you’ve made it this far:

  1. Slow down.  Take a few minutes and shut off your notifications, close your computer, disconnect, and be still. Think and identify where you have been telling yourself you can’t. Where have you been telling yourself you are not good enough?
  2. Write it down on a piece of paper. There is a healing element with some of my clients when they do this. Let it out on paper and forgive yourself for having that mindset.
  3. Get rid of those thoughts! Take that piece of paper, crumple it, and toss it in the trash.  Light it on fire! Flush it down the toilet! Whatever you need to do to LET GO of that limiting belief.
  4. Create an affirmation to counter those thoughts and implement it. Affirmations are best in an “I am” format, in a present state, focused on the issue we are working through. I CAN MAKE IT. I AM ENOUGH. I WILL PERSIST IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY.

Whether you think you can or you can’t; you are correct.

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