“ Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do . ”

-John Wooden

Powerful thought , huh ??

What is your take on this ????

How often we waste our precious time, energy and resources on “fixing” or “ trying to prove otherwise” what we can not do , or to put it a little simpler, what we are naturally not wired for, in utter neglect of what we can, what we are naturally wired for ! Of course, that does not mean at all that we should be quick in quitting certain things assuming that we can not do this or do that. No, at times, we just know intuitively that we have a flair for doing certain things as against certain other things that we simply can not do to our satisfaction. And at other times, despite best of conscious & conscientious efforts, things just don’t work out giving enough indication that it’s not our cup of tea ; as against certain other things, that just come naturally to us and give us an “aha” feeling while doing them. Consciously watching out for these defining moments would have us gain insight into our true strengths and natural talents to build further on them and live a life of fulfilment. Focusing too much on our weaknesses would result in wasted opportunities for growth in our areas of strength. Wise people do not let that happen.



Asha said…

Even if we are not good at something, got to try atleast once and then decide whether to continue in that path or not, than just giving up on something just because we think we can’t handle it,right? 

Of course, we all achieve better when we strive at what we really like and what we know, still got to try our hand at “unknown” or “not likable” tasks! 🙂

February 6, 2009 12:12 AM

snigdha said…

Hi Asha, I agree completely with u on that … trying the unknown and not quitting so soon. Thanks for your comments.
Just to elaborate further on my post:The focus of this particular thought is not on what u can not , but on what u can. It emphasises the importance of building on our strengths , rather than getting bogged down with or desperate about our weaknesses. It does happen many a times, that set backs on some particular front upsets one so much that one forgets that there are many other fronts where one can excel provided the required energy gets diverted to those areas of strengths. Personally, I have come across so many bright children, who burn their heart out to become, say a doctor or an engineer, just to go with the fad of the day, although they lack the specific aptitude for that but are exceedingly creative and can do wonders in , say, art, human sciences , leadership etc. Actually, so far as “ what we can not” or our weak zone is concerned what matters critically is to know where to draw a line between trying and quitting; and that defining moment normally is experienced by you, if you have already tried out consciously and conscientiously , and are open to what your heart says. 

The thought here runs apparently a little contrary to what I brought out in my earlier article “ Of Bumble Bees n Elephants ” where I say, sometimes it is better not to know what you can not , as you will tend to limit what you can if you think you know what you can not. But as I said, the contradiction is only apparent – at a slightly deeper level, both the standpoints only complement each other ! Yes, not allowing “what u can not do” interfere with “what u can do” does not mean that one should not try out things that, at first, appear to be in one’s weak zone or in the unknown zone; neither does it mean that one should quit trying that thing soon after a couple of setbacks. No, what it seeks to emphasise is : having known what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are, consciously work on your natural talents and strengths to leverage them for excellence and do not just let your strengths remain dormant by getting constrained or caught up fully with what you have already found out as your rather weak zone, which need to be managed no doubt , but may not turn out to be one of your best abilities no matter howsoever optimist you may be, no matter how much you try on that. If you are not becoming, say, a great athlete despite best efforts, but have the abilities to become say a great singer, go for it and become a great singer by all means ! Why on earth should your failure to become a successful athlete come in the way of your becoming a great singer ? If as a student, you are not a mathematics brain, but excel in drawing, do try to improve your maths to the best of your abilities, but not totally at the cost of your drawing classes ! To put it in another way, do not neglect your maths, but do focus on your drawing !!

February 6, 2009 2:55 PM

Sambit said…

My last post to your ” Pause & Ponder-I” links to this one in a way. One does not possess unlimited ability or unlimited resources. So it is likely that one will choose optimisation over maximisation for getting the best out of life. He has to concentrate on the comfortable zone to make the best use of his resources. This in effect means staying out of the known “you are not” Zone. However one has to make his usual forays to the unknown zone to add new areas to both these zones. This will ensure the variety in life as well as the adventure to make the spirit jump. 

February 7, 2009 10:13 PM

snigdha said…

Thanks Sambit for bringing out the perspectives with clarity. Yes, I agree with your views 1001% and in fact, the themes of all my last three posts – since bumble bee – actually are directed to seek out the synergy amongst the different dimensions of the same “I” – in search of the real meaning of ” Yes, I can “. 

February 8, 2009 8:55 AM

avinash said…

After a long time i did come across a post that really did justice to its title. This post really made me pause and ponder and snigdha u deserve a pat on the back for it.
As u said snigdha that we should focus on what we can n not waste our time n energy in stupid pusruits. I couldn’t agree more. But i think this is possible only if u r leading an ideal life which i supppose most of us aren’t. There is a very simple explanation to why we go after what we can’t and it goes like this-“Forbidden fruit is the sweetest.” We are naturally wired to fantasise, to run after stuff which is out of our reach, to live a life which we see in our dreams. And it is this pursuit that forms the base of the most important emotion in our lives-hope. Trying to do the impossible makes us feel that hope is immortal. It never dies. U know our success always walks in hand with our doom. So even if u concentrate on your strengths and b successful eventually it will all end someday. U know what separates us from the Gods and makes the Gods envious of us?
The very fact that we can’t do evrything. We will never b more beautiful than we are now. We will never be here again. so all the time u r here do what u can’t do coz only then will u know what u can do.
Snigdha i consider u 2 b my blogger guru so keep posting gr8 posts like this one.

February 9, 2009 8:56 PM

Deba said…

I am completely agreed with you that more often than not we waste our valuable time, energy and resources on trying to prove otherwise. It is not a fact that we cannot do any particular thing. All the human beings are much more powerful than they think themselves. They can do anything and everything. But, for that purpose, they have to find out their own self, they have to be inclined and dedicated, they have to move steadily and patiently. Whatsoever, there is undoubtedly a need to pause and ponder over the following questions before taking any new initiative: 

• What do I want?
• Why do I want to take up this initiative?
• What do I achieve ultimately after taking the initiative?
• Would the achievement give me the desired satisfaction?
• Whether I’m dissatisfied presently, and if so, what are the reasons?

Answers to the above questions in a cool mind can help us take a correct decision before taking up any new initiative and thereby avoid any wastage of time, energy, resources and more importantly our peace of mind.


February 11, 2009 3:32 PM

snigdha said…

Avinash & Deba, thx a lot for actually giving a few of your precious moments to ponder over this – yr comments reflect that. The idea is to make and help people “think” for themselves. And as you get into the habit of thinking and reflecting – u will be amazed to see how the perspectives emerge clearer and clearer ! Yes, this particular thought, though talks of building on your strengths – it never suggests that u should not venture into the unknown or to accept defeat without putting up your best in whichever path you have set out. The message is that you should not allow yourself to feel so beaten over what u can not do to yr satisfaction or to the world’s satisfaction that u lose the eye to see what you are talented at or u lose the enthu to pursue what u can, what u are strong in, what u r passionate about. Every single human being has a purpose behind his existence and it is he , who alone can seek it and find it, if he so chooses. And yes, HOPE is the ultimate thing that keeps us going , as rightly observed by Avinash. 

I have recently received a story by mail from a dear friend of mine, which illustrates the core perspective of the thought in this post so beautifully that I have decided to share that as a sequel. Thx for sharing yr perspectives, guys!

Here it goes:

A few days back, I received by email from my dear friend Veera, an inspirational story, which I am sharing below. I am amazed to discover how candidly and succinctly this real life story exemplifies what John Wooden might have tried to convey when he said “ Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do “. In fact, my own interpretation also leans heavily on this line of thinking, that advocates building on your strength and not letting your weak zone keep you blind to your strengths or too depressed to work on what you can. Most certainly, it does not say that you should not try the uncertain – that would amount to shifting the real focus of the thought from “ what you can” to “ what you can not”. It just says, do not bother too much if you can not do a few things – you still are endowed with unlimited potential and extra-ordinary talent in some other fields – try & find those out, work on those and be all that you can be, be all that you are here for !! And yes, it is most important to realize that it is not arrogance about our talents but an attitude of gratitude, which will awaken us to our true potentials through difficult times.

I am extremely thankful to my on-line friends for having pondered over this and brought out the perspectives from various angles. ( Hey, I find this way of blogging very interesting and very enriching as we get to benefit mutually when so many minds open up on a particular thought with new perspectives, newer dimensions!!

The Patrick Henry Hughes Story
[ Credit : Veera,  my dear friend & Source of the story : simpletruths.com]

“The date was July 16, 2008. It was late in the afternoon and I was sitting in my hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky. I was scheduled to speak that evening for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA). I was a little “down in the dumps.” I hadn’t gotten to exercise lately because of my traveling schedule and recently I’d experienced some mild bouts of vertigo (that inner ear condition that can cause the room to start spinning.) You got it…speaking and “spinning” are not good partners!My keynote presentation was scheduled for 7:00 PM, but I had been invited to show up at 6:00 to see a performance they said I’d enjoy. Little did I know that I was about to see something I would never forget.They introduced the young musician.
Welcome…Mr. Patrick Henry Hughes. He was rolled onto the stage in his wheelchair, and began to play the piano. His fingers danced across the keys as he made beautiful music. NEW RELEASE:He then began to sing as he played, and it was even more beautiful. For some reason, however, I knew that I was seeing something special. There was this aura about him that I really can’t explain and the smile…his smile was magic!About ten minutes into Patrick’s performance, someone came on the stage and said…”I’d like to share a 7-minute video titled, The Patrick Henry Hughes story.” And the lights went dim.Patrick Henry Hughes was born with no eyes, and a tightening of the joints which left him crippled for life. However, as a child, he was fitted with artificial eyes and placed in a wheelchair. Before his first birthday, he discovered the piano. His mom said, “I could hit any note on the piano, and within one or two tries, he’d get it.” By his second birthday, he was playing requests (You Are My Sunshine, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star). His father was ecstatic. “We might not play baseball, but we can play music together.”Today, Patrick is a junior at the University of Louisville. His father attends classes with him and he’s made nearly all A’s, with the exception of 3 B’s He’s also a part of the 214 member marching band. You read it right…the marching band! He’s a blind, wheelchair-bound trumpet player; and he and his father do it together. They attend all the band practices and the half-time performance in front of thousands. His father rolls and rotates his son around the field to the cheers of Patrick’s fans. In order to attend Patrick’s classes and every band practice, his father works the graveyard shift at UPS. Patrick said…”My dad’s my hero.”But even more than his unbelievable musical talent, it was Patrick’s “attitude of gratitude” that touched my soul. On stage, between songs, he would talk to the audience about his life and about how blessed he was. He said, “God made me blind and unable to walk. BIG DEAL! He gave me the ability…the musical gifts I have…the great opportunity to meet new people.” When his performance was over, Patrick and his father were on the stage together. The crowd rose to their feet and cheered for over five minutes. It gave me giant goose bumps!My life was ready to meet Patrick Henry Hughes. I needed a hero, and I found one for the ages. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never forget that night, that smile, that music, but most importantly, that wonderful “attitude of gratitude.”I returned to Chicago and shared Patrick’s story with my wife, my friends, and our team at Simple Truths. About two weeks later, I received a letter from a friend. He said, “Mac, I don’t know who said it, but I think you’ll love this quote.” “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain!”I thought…that’s it! We all face adversity in our life. However, it’s not the adversity, but how we react to it that will determine the joy and happiness in our life. During tough times, do we spend too much time feeling sorry for ourselves, or, can we, with gratitude…learn how to dance in the rain?It almost sounds too simple to feel important, but one word…gratitude, can change your attitude, thus, your life, forever. Sarah Breathnack said it best…”When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present….we experience heaven on earth.”

That’s it – do not focus too much on what is missing , what you are weak in, what you can not do …. ; Count your blessings, be grateful for what you have, what you are naturally talented in, what you can do … and give your best.

I strongly feel that if we get these perspectives clear – especially the younger generation in their formative stage- much of human despair and suffering can get converted to creative and constructive action. I love visualizing that world !!


Asha said…

We have a saying in southern US. “Count your blessings”.
That’s how everybody should think, instead of moaning and groaning about what we don’t have and can’t get! Happy Monday to you! :))

February 16, 2009 6:15 PM

snigdha said…

That’s it, Asha – let’s count our blessings ! This is perhaps one of the commonest sayings which is followed more in its breach then practice. Thx dear .

February 17, 2009 7:10 AM

Liara Covert said…

Just when a person thinks life is over, new sources of inspiration present themselves to remind a person the joy of being alive. As a person learns there is more to life than initial assumptions, then happiness is rediscovered within the self, wherever you are.

February 18, 2009 12:12 AM

snigdha said…

Thx Liara, for dropping by and sharing yr thought. “joy of being alive” – wonderful point made there ! I am very excited to have found your site – many insightful posts there.

February 18, 2009 6:52 PM

Deba said…

The story is really inspiring. In the quotation “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass… it’s about learning how to dance in the rain” lies the true principle of leading a happier and thus, successful and peaceful life. It indicates a positive approach. We are so inclined to negativity presently that more often than not we first see the darker side of a thing and so ponder over it to produce more and more negative thoughts and vibrations. The more the negative vibrations, the more unhappiness engulf the mind. In the absence of positivity, one can never achieve contentment, no matter how wealthy he is or whatever big post he holds.

Positive thinking is a vital prerequisite for a happy life. Unless and until one feels contended with whatever one has, one cannot lead a happy and peaceful life. It is said, when one is contended with whatever he has, he stops growing further. But, I truly feel that man starts growing only when he feels contended. With contentment, comes a positive approach, a new outlook, an improved vision, when man looks at the brighter part of the thing and tries to make the whole thing brighter. He takes better decisions. He accomplishes his job in a better manner. In this way, he rises further and further. On the other hand, if someone starts looking at the darker part, he feels embarrassed and then found himself being embraced by sorrows, pain and ultimately suffering. In this way he falls down deeper and deeper.

Some people say, we have born to suffer. However, no one is born to suffer. If we are suffering then that is only due to our negative attitude, uncontrolled mind, incessant desire, ambiguous thought, lack of determination and dedication, etc. We can get our despair and suffering converted to creative and constructive action by changing our outlook, our thought process and attitude.


February 23, 2009 11:24 AM