Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.
– Henry Ford
Funny thing about Henry Ford’s quote is there really is nothing funny or strange about it. If you think you can, then you are right. If you think you can’t, you are also right. The first is a positive affirmation that will most certainly lead to a positive outcome. The second is a negative affirmation that will most certainly lead to a negative outcome. In fact, half the battle towards “can” or “can’t” has already been won just with the mindset invoked by these opposing outcomes.
In the martial arts setting, we see this often. A student is presented with a challenge, for example, board breaking. They look at the one inch pine for the first time in their life and then they utter the often heard quote, “I’ll try.” But in their mind they are already saying, “I can’t.” Sure enough, when they attempt to break the board, they fail. In that sense, they were right. They set into their mind that they could not break the board, and their mindset became their reality moments later.
You see, the practice of martial arts is a mind, body, and spirit phenomenon. The spirit controls the mind and the mind controls the body. One’s body may be physically capable of breaking a one inch pine board. If proper technique is applied, it can be done with relative ease. One’s mind may be mentally capable to direct the body to do this if it contains the correct information on how to move the body toward breaking a board. One’s spirit is where the problem often lies. If the spirit is lacking intent, meaning that positive determination to direct the mind to supply the correct information to the nervous system of the body, then failure will be the outcome. However, if the spirit is focused in its intent to power through that one inch pine board using the correct information residing within the brain, then the body will follow through with that intent and success becomes the outcome.
This is true in all aspects of our everyday life. If our spirit – our intent, our positive focus, our desire, our determination – is not maximized upon complete confidence in the outcome, then much of the power in the brain and the body is diminished, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. So never look at an obstacle or challenge and utter the words, “I can’t.” If you do, you most certainly have created the outcome before it has even occurred and defeated yourself. Never say, “I’ll try.” That is merely a half-hearted movement that leads toward failure. Only say, “I can,” and this will focus your spirit, which empowers the mind and the body to do things most people believe to be impossible. Either way, whether you can’t or you can, you will be right. The choice is up to you.