One of my favorite object lessons.

Victim or The Yoda Principle?

There are two words which grate on me like fingernails on chalkboards for those of you who remember slate chalk boards. They drive me nuts.

CAN’T is one and TRY is the other!

I hate both of them because they are the private preserve of victims and quitters everywhere.

Let me explain: As soon as you utter the word CAN’T, it’s game over. No one ever overcomes can’t. You even have to whine a little when you say it. Think about it.

CAN is a much better word. Remember “The Little Engine Who Could.”

I can’t take it any more. I can’t stand my wife/husband. I can’t put up with that behavior any more…you hear it all the time. How much better than the victim word can’t are the Will and Won’t words?

Can’t says I have no control over my circumstances, I am just a victim here. Will and Won’t and Can represent proactive options which always exist and are available to everybody all the time.

  • I WILL be the best parent I can even though my spouse and I are now separated.
  • I WILL find the person who I have been looking for in life as soon as I find that person in myself.
  • I CAN take charge of my life…I am responsible for my thoughts and actions.
  • I CAN and WILL learn how to be a better wife/husband.

WILL is a statement of intention and is the weapon to defeat can’t.

Today, count the number of times you can replace can’t with Will or Won’t and feel the difference.

Then take the time to do this exercise about the word TRY—any two people can do it regardless of size or strength…come on give it a whirl. It is fun. You will be amazed…promise. This exercise requires 2 people: a guinea pig and a partner. The guinea pig faces front and the partner stands behind the piggy. Both players face the same direction.

Whichever of the two of you chooses to go first is the guinea pig.Take turns being the guinea pig.:

Guinea Pig:

  • Stand with your arms outstretched parallel to the floor. Your partner stands directly behind you…both with arms out.
  • Think of something you like to do and are good at


  • Instruct the guinea pig to repeat this phrase at least 4 times and really try to convince you they try. Example:

I try to play or do or like something…” i.e. “I try to be a good cook and I’m good at it” or “I try to play golf and I’m good at it.” (Guinea Pig chooses the topic.)

  • While standing behind the piggy, hold on to his/her arms lightly at the wrist. Have the piggy repeat the “I try” phrase 4 times with conviction and Instruct the guinea pig to resist as you push their arms downward after the fourth ‘try’.
  • Make note of the results.

Guinea Pig: Step 2

  • Repeat the exercise, only this time say the phrase without using the word TRY. Example: “I like to cook and I’m good at it” or “I like to play golf and I’m good at it.”
  • Repeat the phrase at least 4 times…convince your partner what you like to do and are good at.


  • After the 4th time they repeat the “I like” phrase tell the piggy to resist as you attempt to push his/her arms down to their sides from wrists a second time..
  • Now observe the results. What was the difference?

Notice how easy it is for you to be defeated when you use the word TRY and how hard it is to defeat you when you drop TRY from your vocabulary. The word TRY is nothing more than an excuse for failure.

One Final Note

Hence the YODA principle:

Today, count the number of times you can replace Can’t with CAN, or WILL, or WON’T and then drop Try from your vocabulary and feel the difference.