“I think I can, I think I can.”
Any The Little Engine That Could fans out there? This story was one of my favorites as a child, and it’s one of my favorites to read to my three-year-old son today.
As I read the book to him for the umpteenth time last night, I started thinking about the life and leadership lessons found within.
For those who are unfamiliar, the story is about a train with many cars that needs to get over the mountain so the good boys and girls on the other side will have toys to play with and good food to eat. A number of engines refuse to help, citing that they are either too important or tired to be of assistance. Finally, the Little Blue Engine happens upon the train and agrees to help, although she is quite small and has never been over the mountain.
As she steadily climbs the mountain, she repeats, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” until she accomplishes the task. In the end, she feels quite proud of her achievement.
One of my dad’s favorite quotes when I was growing up was, “It’s all in the attitude.” Which essentially meant, if you think you will fail, you likely will. If you believe you can accomplish something, you are much more likely to.
The power of a positive mindset. A growth mindset. If we want to accomplish something that seems larger than ourselves, we have to first believe that it’s possible. Unlikely? Maybe. Possible? Yes.
We also have to be persistent in the face of rejection and roadblocks. The story doesn’t allude to whether the Little Engine struggled to make her way up the mountain, but we do know that she gained momentum and confidence as she went. It’s possible that she focused on one small goal at a time. Once she reached a certain landmark, she might have focused on the next until she found herself on top of the mountain.
We can do the same. Set small goals for ourselves that seem less overwhelming but get us closer to our ultimate goal…and chug, chug slowly along until we start to gain more momentum and confidence. Repeat our motivating mantra of, “I think I can, I think I can…” while we go.
What are you hoping to accomplish in your career? In your life? The first step is to set those goals. The second step is to believe in yourself. Believe in your potential. Believe that you can learn, change and grow. Believe that you can reach those goals.
Cheers to that!