Never say 'can't', because if you say that to or about yourself, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether it's true or not. Even more so, never tell someone else they 'can't'. I pretty much did. And I ate my words. This week.
My son, 'Fritz' (again, not his real name, but there's a story behind that which I may or may not tell you all some day), decided in 7th grade he wanted to be a distance runner. Despite having the right build, the never-quit attitude, the work ethic and the genes to make him into a better-than-average runner, it never quite happened. He was stuck in one gear, finishing in the middle of the pack. In 8th grade, after a bout of whooping cough, we learned he had exercise-induced asthma (EIA), plus something called vocal cord dysfunction (VCD). Most of you have probably known someone who's challenged by asthma, but imagine if you will that person, who's already having a hard time breathing, audibly gasping for air and unable to open their throat enough to inhale properly. He sounded like a walrus, wore a look of unbearable pain and usually collapsed after each race. A hundred times, I wished he'd find something else to do. But still, he insisted on running, having also inherited my stubborn-streak.
We tried a dozen medications, combinations of them and diet alterations. Many helped, but none ever seemed to be the magic pill. While he trained harder than anyone else, he was continually hampered by his condition, often being passed by teammates. At his last doctor's visit, the pulmonologist suggested he try taking Singulair - an allergy medication. We knew he had some very mild allergies and he'd taken the drug before, to no effect, but we thought 'Sure, why not?'. This time, however, the instructions on when to take it were more specific.
Before his track meet last week, I asked my son what his goal time for the 2-mile run was. He said "11:30". Mind you, his fastest time on the track last year was 12 minutes and 20-some seconds. To cut nearly a minute off, I was sure, given his asthma, would be impossible. So I told him, "Don't you think you should just try to break 12, first?" I got a sideways leer for that.
He took his medicine, warmed up and reported in for the race. His pace started off fast and I thought for sure we'd be scooping him up off the ground yet again. Lo and behold, he held the pace and beat his goal by one skinny second. Not only that, but three days later he repeated the performance again, this time under horrible weather conditions.
I have never been so wrong in my life. So never tell anyone they 'can't' do something. If there's a will and a way, they may just prove you wrong.