President, Lefkoe Institute
November 02, 2010

A few years ago I was in the midst of a corporate consulting assignment and realized that there was one crippling belief that was rampant in every organization I had ever worked in. This belief is not only the most common belief in organizations; it is, in my opinion, the biggest single barrier most organizations have.

What is this belief? “I (or we) can’t….”

“We can’t out-source that product.” “I can’t possibly find the time to do that.” “We can’t find the employees we need.” “I can’t get the support I need.” “We can’t possibly finish the project as quickly as the customer wants.” And the list goes on and on. If you work in a company you hear “I can’t…” all day long. And if someone believes something “can’t be done,” then the chances are slim to nil that it will get done.

This belief, like any other belief, can be easily eliminated.

Because “I can’t…” shows up in our personal lives almost as often as in organizations, I thought I would devote this blog post to teaching you how to this hurtle…

You will usually hear someone state, “I can’t ….” out loud. If you are trying to help someone find their unconscious “I can’t…” beliefs, you can ask the following three questions:

a. What do you want to have happen?
b. What do you have to do to make this happen?
c. What’s in the way of you doing that? (The answer will be, I can’t … because ….)

1. What is it you have to do or can’t do? (NOTE: If someone states the belief in a positive way, for example, “we must,” turn it into the negative version, “we can’t.”

2. How do you know that? What happened that led to the belief being formed? (The source here is not childhood, but one’s recent experience.)

3. Can you see that your belief made sense given your experience? (The answer will always be, yes.)

4. You saw that it couldn’t be done the way you did it, at that time, under those circumstances. Can you say with absolute certainty that it could never be done any way under any circumstances in the future? (Logically, the answer will always have to be, no. You can never say anything about the future with absolute certainty.)

5. Couldn’t your past experience also mean: I haven’t found a way to do it yet, but that does not mean that it can’t be done? (Again, the answer will always be, yes.)

6. Can you see that your belief is only a description of the way it was in the past and not the truth about the future? (The answer will be, yes, which is acknowledging that the belief is no longer the truth.)

7. If it’s not the truth that “I can’t …

[state the belief],” how would you solve the problem if you could do it? (The I can’t … belief is gone after Step #6. If you are trying to solve a problem and someone stops the conversation with the belief, We can’t …, after the belief is gone you can return to the discussion and find a solution.)

Try using this process in your company or with a friend and then leave me a note here about your results.

This article is based on ideas from the Lefkoe Belief Process, which has helped over 10,000 employees in over 50 corporations eliminate beliefs that kept the organizations from realizing their full potential.

Morty Lefkoe is the creator of The Lefkoe Method, a system for permanently eliminating limiting beliefs. For more information go to