We called my grandfather Poppy. I don’t know why my family went with that moniker, but I called him by that name until his death, six weeks before my first wedding in 1992.

He was not an educated man – I think he only went to school until he was ten years old. One of seven children of a New York City immigrant family with a tirelessly hard-working mother and an alcoholic father, he managed to marry, raise four children, move to the suburbs, and own a home.

He worked in construction his whole life and was among the ‘hands who built America’ in New York City. Upon retirement, he started a mechanic’s business out of his garage. My whole childhood was spent seeing strange cars in my grandparents’ driveway, and my small but strong grandfather popping up from underneath a car.

Now, this would be a nicer story if I could say that he was sweet, and we had a great, close relationship. But he was really hard to know, and he had a bit of a gruff, aloof personality. Although he liked to laugh and eat snacks – so we have that in common.

However, there is one thing he repeatedly said that I can’t forget. It has guided me through many years of self-doubt and fear. A man whose reading skills didn’t reach beyond the daily newspaper, and never stepped foot on a plane or on foreign soil, taught me this:

“Never say can’t.” 

Simple, but powerful words.

I resisted this advice as a child because I knew deep down that my grandfather saw me, and my sister and cousins, as spoiled children who had no idea how hard life could be. In his eyes we were soft.

And he was right about that, but his wisdom still applied.

Now, sometimes you really can’t. I can’t be a sumo wrestler (too small and weak). Or a beekeeper (not a bug person). Or a surgeon (one drop of blood and I’m out).

But I don’t want to be any of those things.

The real magic happens when there is an intersection of what you CAN be, and what you DREAM to be.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the road I want to drive down. That’s the one that will lead you to the good stuff. The Career Happiness!

So, don’t get mired in the ‘can’ts’ of life. For every true ‘can’t’ there are a hundred ‘I absolutely can and I freaking WILL!’ paths you can take.

When this wisdom finally hit me as an early middle-aged adult, I got unstuck and started attacking my long list of ‘can’ts.’

So, let’s channel Poppy and live up to our potential – if he could own a home and have a family and a business after the childhood he endured, we can all do better than we think…or fear.

I promise you it’s magical when you get out of your own way!

And see that you CAN!!!!

If you would like to learn more about working with me and overcoming your obstacles to career happiness, please reach out and we’ll chat:


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