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Are You Too Smart for Your Own Good?

Are you sometimes too smart for your own good? Most of us are at times. We're so smart that we can easily explain why we can't do certain things or accomplish this or that goal. For example, a man might have a fully developed and logical argument for why he can't make a living as an author. A woman may have virtual certainty about why she can't be a high-paid stock market analyst. This happens even when--or especially when--people want the things they say they can't have or do.

When we explain why we can't do something, we could be right. But we could also just be afraid to take action; afraid to do what needs to be done to accomplish a goal. Failure is possible too--it always is--and we might not want to face that possibility. But any of the things we say cannot be done have probably been done by people with less intelligence and fewer skills.

How do we know when it is our fears doing the "reasoning" which explains what can't be done? In other words, how do we know when we are being too smart for our own good?

Here's an interesting experiment you might try. Pick something that you have said or felt you can't do, but which you might secretly like to do "if it was possible." Now, imagine for a moment that a crazy wealthy man came to you and asked about your impossible goal. After hearing what you have to say, he makes you an offer. He says he will give you a million dollars to spend a week developing a plan for achieving that goal that can't be achieved. He makes it clear that you will not have to do a thing toward the goal other than lay out a feasible plan for its achievement on paper.

Could you do that? Probably. In fact, I suspect that almost everyone with a "can't be done" goal would suddenly find the reasons why it actually is possible and the ways it might be done. For a million dollars most would write that paper and make it convincing, don't you think?

I also suspect that one's entire view of what is possible (or at least the view one presents to others) would probably change as the result of this exercise. You might want to see if my suspicion is true. You might want to spend some time writing a plan for how to do that thing you say you can't do--even though you'll have to do it "for free."

So, are you correct in all your "can't do" reasoning? Or are you too smart for your own good? I leave you with four more questions:

1. What have you claimed you could not do that you might actually like to do if you saw a clear path to the goal?

2. Could you imagine a plan to get there (and write it down) if you had to?

3. If you "turn around" people's "can't do" claims by asking how they would if they could, will that alter their view enough to alter their actions?

4. If you could do that impossible thing, how would you do it?


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