Why (and How) You CAN

(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)

Far too often when working with youth, we hear the words “I can’t.” We’ve all been there – that feeling that giving up would be easier than pushing through a challenge is all too familiar. But, as mentors and role models, it is our job to help young people drop the “t” and realize that whatever they think they CAN’T do, we believe wholeheartedly that they CAN.

Our goal in leading youth to confidence isn’t always easily accomplished. Young people face all sorts of pressures from peers, parents, teachers and coaches and, unfortunately for some, discouragement comes from those who are trusted the most, whether in the form of criticism from well-meaning adults or intentional cruelty from bullies.

Here are a few reasons you CAN overcome that challenge and a few thoughts on how to do so.

C – Commit. Without truly committing, reaching a goal is impossible. It takes dedication and drive to overcome a challenge and the path to success is full of obstacles. The difference between someone who achieves success and an individual who never reaches the finish line is a starting commitment to hold out through the tough times. Whether in relationships; on the field, track or court; or in the classroom, when you start off believing that challenges mean you’ve failed on your journey, you have already underestimated yourself. Make the commitment, get back up after a setback, and see success along the horizon.

A – Advance. Life truly is a journey, not a destination. We aren’t finished when one goal is reached, but, rather, we continue on the path, facing each new challenge with commitment, confidence and dedication. But this doesn’t mean we take the easy road. Advancing to the next step means embracing what’s around the corner. Doing the same thing over and over again won’t move us on this game board that is life. Don’t wait for opportunities to come along to advance – seek them out and dig deep.

N – Never Give Up. Giving up means that you are essentially saying that you aren’t mentally or physically capable of the task before you. While this may be true for this current moment in time, don’t give up. Develop a plan and then revisit when you’ve built up the strength it might take to face the challenge with confidence. Running a full marathon takes training – lots and lots of training; surviving finals takes nights and nights of preparation; and landing that dream job takes years of experience and a commitment to education. Plan the steps to reach your goals and, in time, you’ll be celebrating success.