what you can't not do


In this day and age, there are so many things calling for our attention. If you’re like most people, your life probably can’t get much busier. There's always more stuff occupying your time, getting added to your plate, or filling up your schedule. Our days can feel like a never-ending checklist of things to do.

But just for a minute today, I want to challenge you to stop and consider not just the long list of commitments and responsibilities that you can take on in life, but instead the short list of those you can’t not take on. That’s right, forget about all those things you can do, and instead focus for a minute on what you can’t not do. Those are the things that are so important to you that they simply can’t go undone. As hard as you may try or as busy as you may get, you simply can’t allow yourself to ignore or diminish their importance in your life. There are some distinct differences between the two – what you can do and what you can’t not do – differences I hope you’ll see clearly today. 

There are some distinct differences between those things you can do and those you can’t not do.

Here’s an example of what I mean from my own life. People ask me occasionally why I wrote The LENS. When it comes right down to it, the answer is pretty simple. I’ve found that I didn’t write this book about raising champion athletes and people because I could do it. As funny as it sounds, I wrote the book because I couldn’t not do it. I knew it would be a huge challenge – a commitment that would take a lot of my time, thought, and energy. Honestly, I tried, on more than one occasion, to convince myself not to do it, to focus instead on the long list of other things I could be doing with my time. But there was something inside me that just wouldn’t let me ignore, dismiss, or abandon what I knew in my heart was an important responsibility. And as my conviction for that responsibility grew, it became clear that the challenge or difficulty of this book project wasn’t a reason to avoid doing it. It was actually validation that this project was big and meaningful and important. The challenge and difficulty were the very reason it couldn’t not be done!

I want to challenge you today to start clarifying which items on your to-do list fit into the “can do” category, and which ones fit into the “can’t not do” category. There is probably a long list of things in your life that you can do, but the list of things you can’t not do is significantly shorter. There are some distinct characteristics of the commitments and responsibilities that make that list:

First, the things you can’t not do are usually not small or insignificant; they are important and meaningful. You may try to convince yourself that there is plenty of other stuff you could be doing with your time, but something inside won’t let you ignore, dismiss, or abandon what you know in your heart are your most important priorities.

Second, the things you can’t not do won’t be quick, easy, or convenient. Saying yes to the things you can’t not do will mean saying no to many of the other things in life that you could be giving your attention to. Those things you can't not do will take a lot of your time, thought, and energy. They’ll probably be filled with challenges and difficulties. But the challenges and difficulties of these responsibilities aren’t a reason to avoid doing them. They are actually further validation of their meaning and importance. The challenges and difficulties are actually the very reason they can’t not be done!

Finally, the things you can’t not do, you won’t regret doing. At some point, each one of us will look back and determine for ourselves what we made most important in life. Unfortunately, I’m afraid too many people will one day realize they filled their schedules and calendars with things they regret – meaningless, unimportant things – while things that really mattered weren't prioritized like they should've been. Too many of us fill our days with things to do just because we can do them, instead of prioritizing first the things we’ve determined we can’t not do. Intentionally prioritizing our "can't not do" list steers us away from regret, and toward the authentic pride that comes with giving our time, thought, and energy to the things that matter most.

If you’re here, reading this week’s newsletter, then I hope you’ll see clearly that all the work it takes to raise a champion in the world today – both in sports and in life – is work that you can’t afford not to do. Yes, raising a champion is a huge challenge, a commitment that will take a lot of your time, thought, and energy. And no doubt, you might try to convince yourself there are other things you could be doing with your time. But I hope there’s something inside that won’t allow you to ignore, dismiss, or abandon this critical responsibility you have in the life of your child.

Champions don’t become champions by accident. It’s true for everyone, in any area of life, and it’ll be true for your kid, too. If it’s going to happen, then there’s some learning and growing to do. Some developing and cultivating. It’ll take a lot of hard work, from you and from him, but it’s work that’s worth doing. Teaching him. Preparing him. Equipping him. Challenging him and holding him accountable. Encouraging and supporting him. Sacrificing. Loving. Leading. I hope you’ll see today – if you’re serious about helping your child become his very best – that it has to be done, all of it. In fact, you might say, it can’t not be.


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