The Four Letter Word Your Boss or Client Hates to Hear… and That Is Holding You Back

When we are hired for something, whether it be as an employee or freelancer, we’re expected to perform a function… i.e. a job. This means that in order to keep your job (and get paid) you must be providing value to justify your position. It’s just how things work, right?

But, that’s just the minimum that occurs to get by.

For anyone who wants more… to move up, get more responsibility or more opportunity… they must be willing to do more too.

You’ll never achieve more if you aren’t willing to do more. [Tweet That]

One of the things that stops many from achieving more and robs them of their potential is a simple four letter word. It’s the word that your boss or client hates to hear and that is likely holding you back.


Sometimes we say it outright, “I can’t…” or “We can’t.” Other times it masquerades in the form of other responses, or excuses, that we give. Responses that are lacking in vision, optimism, or drive. If we’re honest, sometimes saying we can’t is just easier (because doing more requires working more). Other times we’re just blind to what can be because we’ve let our own Curse of Knowledge settle in.

When your boss is looking for something she doesn’t want to hear CAN’T. At least she doesn’t want to hear that without an alternative idea to accomplish the goal. She wants solution seekers, people who are willing to find a way. She wants her ideas to become a reality and for you to help make it so.

Now, don’t get me wrong… there are some requests that are simply illogical or not doable with the resources at hand but instead of saying that it can’t be done, try to reframe your response with a possible solution. “Boss, we can’t do ___ but I think we could achieve a similar result IF we did ___ instead.”

Always try to respond with a solution mindset. Always.

And, be proactive too. Don’t just wait for your boss or client to ask you for something, look for ways to contribute without being asked. What ideas do you have that you can share? How can you help move the organization or project forward in creative ways? How can you ADD more value than what you are simply expected to provide?

The same thing goes for your life. Whatever it is that you want to achieve may seem impossible but here’s the thing…

It will always appear impossible if you keep looking at it that way. [Tweet That]

When you shift your perspective from CAN’T Sayer to Solution Seeker, possibilities become visible. Instead of being blocked by obstacles and what you think you can’t do, you see differently and are able to find a way.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • CTucker

    I think before suggesting alternatives, I might seek out the intent behind the request. Maybe I’m thinking “can’t” because I think they want a certain result – but if I understand their intent, I will be able to come up with a worthy alternative.