“I-think-I-can” these words were made famous in a story that first appeared in print with the title The Little Engine That Could, 1920. The story has gone through multiple versions but the gist of the tale is about a long train that must be pulled over a high mountain. Larger engines are asked to pull the train but refuse for various reasons. The request is then sent to a small engine, who agrees to try. The engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating, “I-think-I-can”, overcoming a seemingly impossible task. As the little engine nears the top of the grade that had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can.” It reached the top by drawing on determination and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”
The little engine “DID” succeed in its’ mission to pull the train up the grade and down the other side. Positive thinking was clearly involved in the little engine’s success but also action, determination, and grit contributed to the little engine’s final result. He declared “I can”, then took action by pulling the train up the grade, as he neared the hard part he did not give up even though it was getting harder and harder, he slowed down but kept going still repeating, “I think I can.” Repeating the positive self talk.
How often do we not even move to action? How often do we stop ourselves before we try? How often do we quit at the first sign of difficulty? How often do we try to hurry it up and just get through it when what we need to do is slow down, and keep going?
Maysoon Zayid was raised with a “can do” family motto so the fact that she has cerebral palsy along with 99 other problems has not stopped her from being on stage and bringing fun and joy to the world. The next time you are tempted to say “I can’t” think of Maysoon.
Maysoon, Cerebral Palsy is only 1 of her 99 problems.