I Would Love to, But … I Can’t Do That

Extract from ‘I would love to, but…’ by Staci McLean

… I don’t know how to do that.

… I could never be brave enough to do that.

… I don’t have the skills to do that.

… I don’t even know where to start.

Excuse or Obstacle?

At intermediate school, I had a teacher who taught aerobics at the Christchurch Les Mills Gym in the evenings. One day at school, she ran a competition and the kids who did the best in the task would go on a field trip with her after school to the gym to attend a Les Mills aerobics class. I don’t remember what the particular assignment was, but I was determined to win. A friend and I did win, and we got to go on the trip. The gym it was exciting, with loud music pumping through the sound system and everyone wearing the brightly coloured lycra workout clothing that was popular in the 80s.

The exercise class was high energy, dancing around with the music. I watched the instructors with amazement. They looked like they were having so much fun, as though they enjoyed teaching the class.

I remember thinking I would love to do that when I grew up, but I could never do that. It seemed so far out of my experience. I had never been to a gym before. I was twelve years old and self-conscious, my developing body scared me. Anyway, I didn’t look like those instructors, so I thought it wasn’t an option for me. I put the dream aside.

The ‘I can’t do that’ statement covers so many versions of the same excuse.

  • I don’t know how to do it.
  • I have no talent.
  • I’ll have to start at the beginning.
  • If I’m not going to be the best at the start, then why bother starting at all?

It is overwhelming to start something new and there will be things to learn.

The Brutal Truth

You say, ‘I can’t do that’, but the truth is you can’t do it at this present moment. Just because you can’t do something at this time doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to do it.

Who came out of their mother’s womb able to do anything?

Everything we do in our lives we had to learn, step by step. You learned to walk, to talk, to tie your shoelaces. You are reading this book, so you had to learn to do that. Then you learned how to do your job. So why, as adults, do we think we should automatically know how to do something?

I’m sure that we fell when we started learning to walk—I know my children did. But we didn’t stop learning to walk. Our parents didn’t say, ‘Look, he fell down. He’s no good at walking. He obviously can’t walk, so let’s stop teaching. He can just crawl everywhere for the rest of his life’.

Or, if you’re starting a new job, they don’t expect you to know all the systems and processes of your new company on the first day (well, they shouldn’t!). No, there is (or should be) an induction or training programme to teach you how to do the job.

When I was training for a marathon, people often said to me, ‘I’d love to do a fun run, but I can’t even run to the end of the street’. That is the most a ridiculous excuse. No normal person I have ever met or read about got up one day and ran five kilometres, let alone a marathon. There are probably some super athletes who could, but they are not the norm.

Every single runner started at the beginning. I didn’t decide to run a marathon one day and run the race the following week. It took years of build-up and training. When I started running, I could only run for thirty seconds. I slowly built up to running longer distances and times.

Overcoming the Obstacle

If you don’t know where to start, find someone who is already doing the thing you want to do, and ask them. Meet other people and learn from them. We live in an information-saturated world. Whatever you want to do, there will be blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube clips, support groups, organisations, books, classes, or workshops to inspire you or teach you.

When you start, accept that you’re not going to get it right the first time. You’ll need to learn as you go, and a great way to learn is through making mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes when you’re trying to learn something new, you’re probably not pushing yourself enough. Get out of your comfort zone! Making mistakes helps you learn faster and become competent quicker.

Remember my story of me as a twelve-year-old girl dreaming of being an aerobics instructor? It took a while, but I discovered Ezymovez dance fitness in my forties. I trained as an instructor and now teach my own class. Yes, it turned out I could do it after all.

All the same old insecurities I had when I was twelve were still present now, as well as quite a few new ones. There were the additional pressures of work and family, but I took it step by step, gained more confidence, and learned new skills.

As an EZYMovez dance fitness instructor I talk to students who say they don’t know what they are doing. Or I talk to would-be students who say they have two left feet and can’t do it before they even attend a class. But many of the instructors started as the nervous student hiding in the back of the class nervous, struggling to move in the right direction. It doesn’t come in just one class. It takes practice and training to get better.

You can’t do it now, but you can learn. You can grow, and you can do it eventually. If it turns out in the end that you actually can’t do it, I guarantee you will have had fun trying, and learned other skills you never knew you could learn.

No lesson in life is wasted as long as you learn something. So have a go.

Freedom at all costs

Have you seen the movie ‘Harriet?’

It is about Harriet Tubman, an incredible woman who was born into slavery, escaped and then led many missions to rescue slaves and led them to freedom. It is a true story and a compelling movie for many reasons. 

Harriet had suffered a head injury as a child and as a result she had headaches and dreamlike trances.  She believed her trances and visions were God’s revelations.  Because of her strong faith she listened carefully to God and she would only go where she felt God was leading her.  She had extraordinarily success on her missions despite the unfavourable odds against her and the real danger to her life and she lived to over 90 years old.  A truly inspirational story.

In the movie there is one scene which impacted me as I felt like she was speaking directly to this current generation.  In this scene Harriet is meeting with a group of prominent and important politicians and those working to abolish slavery and they tell her that further rescue missions are too dangerous and impossible.

Harriet replies to them, ‘Many of you don’t know slavery first-hand. You were born free, or maybe you have been free so long, you forgot what it’s like. You got comfortable and important’.   (paraphrased)

It made me think about my freedom in Christ.  There was a time when I was a slave to addiction, to brokenness, to sin and to pain. I was made free by Jesus over 20 year ago and I fight with myself all the time to not to get too comfortable and forget what it was like to live under the slavery of world.  There are people in our communities and all over the world living under oppression, captivity, and hopelessness, who need us not to forget or to get comfortable in our lives.  They need us to stand up, to fight for them, to make it our mission to find them and led them to Jesus to be set free.

In the movie Harriet goes on to say What those still enslaved are going through right now! I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them! (paraphrased)

We need fresh eyes to see the pain all around us and fresh ears to hear the groans and a fresh spirit of a warrior to take action, to not allow comfort or the busyness of our modern lives or our lack of confidence to stop us from stepping on to the battlefield. We can play our part in the plan, we can see Jesus change lives and set free the captives. When we listen to the voice of God, go where we are called and go where we are led by God just like Harriet Tubman.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. 

Harriet Tubman
‘Harriet’ the film