Don’t believe in “can’t”

On Friday I was able to duck out of my school for a couple of hours to witness the cross-country running event taking place nearby.  We had a bus load of kiddos participating, and it is important for them to know that the administration supports them.  And, there was another reason that I was thankful for being able to attend — my own kids were both participating.

Now, this is a big deal.

My daughter, some of you might recall, has a genetic syndrome.  If you google her syndrome – chromosome 15 ring syndrome, mosaic presentation – you will get a sense of some of the ‘challenges’ with which she lives.  She is small, has low muscle tone, learns differently and is perpetually optimistic.  She continually blows my mind with her resilience and her positive attitude.  She tries new things all the time — without any prompting from us.  So, when she said she was going out for cross-country, we were amazed and supportive.  And a teensy bit worried.

At the event, I positioned myself at the beginning of the home stretch, where the kids emerge from the woods and make the final 200 metre dash to the finish line.  When the lead pack from her event passed, and then the middle pack, and then some stragglers, I noticed a group of older girls — likely grade 6 students — from another school waiting and cheering on the late runners.  They turned to me and one of them said, “I guess that is everyone” and I replied that I thought there was at least one more.  Then I started to walk into the woods.  And there she was, all by herself, running.  She wasn’t worried, she hadn’t quit and she wasn’t defeated.  I called to her and waved and a huge smile swept over her face as she waved back and kept on running.

As she emerged for the final stretch, she was cheered on by students and parents from the other schools and all I could do was shake my head and admonish myself for being so concerned.  She crossed the finish line 163rd (or something like that) and then positioned herself alongside Grandma to cheer her brother, who ran in the next race, as he crossed the finish line.

Her only complaint was that she was sweaty :)

I’m always amazed at what kids can do when no one tells them they can’t.  Violet never ceases to amaze me with her “I can” approach to life.

How many times do we, as adults, stop ourselves from doing something or trying something new because we don’t feel that we will be successful?  If it has been a while since you last took on a challenge, consider what that teaches kids.  Are you modelling “I can’t” or “I can”?

This entry was posted in Creativity and Engagement, Engaging Everyone, Leadership Essentials. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Don’t believe in “can’t”

  1. What an awesome post, Shannon, and it speaks to the power of perseverance and pride in ones self. As a family, you’ve obviously done a great deal right to have a young lady who exhibits the characteristics that you identify in this post. I’m not going to search for the syndrome thingy, because I like the other part of the story about pride, stick-to-it-ive-ness, and the acceptance and support of the community that was there for the event. Such a touching story. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Thanks, Doug. Violet inspires me every single day. And she makes an impression on everyone she meets. I remember this one time we had to take her to the hospital because she had the flu for several days and was dehydrated. Well, one of the nurses recognized her from swimming lessons 2 years back! I think that she makes a lot of people stop and think. I feel lucky to learn from her every day.


      p.s. even if you google her syndrome, you wouldn't get a sense of who she is – good point!

  2. shelpike says:

    Thanks, Shannon, I was just making changes to a workshop I will be facilitating tomorrow and worrying about all of the things that might go wrong. Now, I have changed my thinking to an "I can" attitude and I am going to believe that I will get positive results. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me.

  3. Wow! What a lovely post! I really admire your daughter's optimistic attitude. I can only imagine what a positive impact it has on everybody else around her too. I'm going to share this post with the staff at my school. You definitely have me thinking now, and I know that you'll have others thinking too!


  4. trishinottawa says:

    Way to go Violet!!!!!

  5. Al Lowrie says:

    Wow. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your life. According to engineers, bumblebees should not be able to fly. No one ever told the bumblebee!:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>