Do you remember the story of The Little Engine That Could? This classic story, published in the New York Tribune in 1906, can be traced back to a sermon by Reverend Charles Wing, a pastor in Brooklyn, New York. In the tale, the engine of a train carrying toys to the village over the mountain breaks down. Along comes a little engine, small in size that has never been given such a huge task.
The little engine does not know for sure that it can be successful. It starts with the thought “I think I can.” It keeps repeating this same phrase, “I think I can, I think I can.” When times become tough, as they often do in life, the little engine never gives up. Climbing the mountain, the task becoming tougher and tougher, it continues to repeat, “I think I can.”
Life is full of challenges; it is part of the journey. Sometimes we face tasks that we never performed before. We are uncertain about the outcome. What shall we do?
Thomas Edison failed many times to invent the light bulb. Despite the challenges, he was confident that he would be successful. He once said he had not failed, yet had only found another way that it did not work. He believed there was a way for it to work that he had not yet discovered. How many times do we continue to persist when we do not succeed?
One of my favorite quotes from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption is: “Hope is a good thing. Maybe even the best of things and good things never die.”
When you face a great challenge, what are your first thoughts? On which side do you land?
I am not sure I can do this. I believe I can do this.
This is too tough for me. This is tough and I am tougher.
I do not think I can do this. I think I can do this.
I can’t do this. I hope I can do this
The next time you face a challenge — one that you are uncertain if you can handle — start with, “I hope I can.” Many times, “I hope” comes before “I think I can.” While you remain hopeful, you have the opportunity to investigate and discover a good plan. Be a consultant to yourself by asking good questions like these:
If I was going to be successful, how would that happen?
What are the key things I need to do to achieve my goal?
What are the opportunities and challenges?
What are my weaknesses and strengths?
What are the main things that are keeping me from winning?
As I step out into this new challenge, I will start with . . . . . .
I hope I can . . .
I think I can . . .
I believe I can . . .