Success comes in Cans, not in Cannots.

Success comes in cans, not in cannots. – Fortune Cookie

Yes, believe it or not, this was actually a Fortune Cookie my son got one night when we were out for Chinese food!


In fact, when he cracked open his cookie and read it, he got a smirk on his face, shook his head, and said “I’m not showing this to you because you’ll write about it!” My son knows me so well! 🙂

The truth of this statement is unavoidable. You will never become successful at something by saying “I cannot do that.” You can only become successful by saying “I can!”

Think about how often all of us think or say “I can’t” versus “I can” or “I’ll try.”

Now think about where you are in your life compared to where you want to be, or, more importantly, where you think you have the ability to be, or all you could accomplish, if you could just get out of your comfort zone.

It is easy to say “I can” to things we already know we can do or that we have done before. The real challenge in life is to say “I can” to the things that are outside of our comfort zone. This is where growth occurs.

I remember, as a teenager, being asked by my girlfriend to go out for Chinese food. I always said “I can’t. I don’t like Chinese food.” She would say “how do you know? You’ve never even tried it!” She was right. I had never even tasted it. Still, I refused to take her out for Chinese until I found myself at an unavoidable family gathering at a Chinese restaurant. I tried it and, much to my surprise, I loved it. I called my girlfriend and asked her out for Chinese. She said “see what you’ve been missing all of these years!”

Far too often, people settle for average, comfortable, predictable lives in which they easily say “I can” to the things that keep them stuck there, rather than saying “I can” or “I’ll try” to the scary uncertainty of things that might take them to wonderful new places they thought they’d never see.

We say things like: I can’t ask that person out; I can’t apply for that job; I can’t take that class; I can’t stand up for myself and leave an abusive relationship; I can’t move to a new city; I can’t take that dream vacation. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t! We get stuck in “cannots.”

The truth of the matter is you CAN! It may be frightening. It will definitely be uncomfortable at first. But if you can think it, you can do it! You probably will not succeed on your very first try, but, if you keep telling yourself “I can,” and keep trying, you can do it!

You see, sometimes Fortune Cookies are right! Success comes in “cans,” not in “cannots!”

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10 Responses to Success comes in Cans, not in Cannots.

  1. Asma August 25, 2014 at 7:17 AM #

    Absolutely true!

  2. Melinda Viergever Inman August 25, 2014 at 5:26 PM #


  3. Lynn Silva August 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM #

    The timing of this article could not be more perfect! And it correlates with a fortune cookie I got just this past weekend. Mine says, ” You will be successful in a business of your own.” When you combine that with, “Success comes in cans, not cannots,” you can’t help but be empowered despite challenging circumstances.

    Thank you for your constant encouragement on your blog, as well as on social media. You make a difference, because you focus on the ‘cans’ instead of the ‘cannots.’

    • Bruce August 26, 2014 at 12:01 PM #

      Lynn, that is wonderful! There are no coincidences in life and everything comes to us with perfect timing, so definitely take that ball and run with it! I appreciate your kindness and wish you success beyond your wildest dreams!

  4. Rocky - Wisebirdsays September 1, 2014 at 7:44 AM #

    Get out of your comfort zone is possibly the best advice I ever got! Your brain keeps sending signals to tell you to stop, but you have to fight through that wall. I think it was Jamie Tardy of Eventual Millionaire who said something along the lines of: “When you get that fear that you can’t do something, you know you’re going in the right place.”

  5. Sharlene Goodwin September 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM #

    Hi Bruce,

    Beautifully written and so true. I have just started a startup business of empowering parents to help their children be awesome in basic facts maths. You know, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Without this strong foundation we set our kids up to struggle. I have left a well-paid job to work on this and to spend more time with my 3 year old. I am a teacher by trade. This choice has been rewarding but also scary and lonely. Being a startup business requires you to put yourself out’s tough. But if you let the ‘cannots’ take over then you will keep yourself from success. I have a saying I really love: ‘If you keep doing what you’re doing, then you will keep getting what you’re getting!’ So if you want to change what you’re getting then you need to change what you’re doing!

    I love how you write Bruce, I write Wednesday Wisdoms for my parents. I would love it if you could have a read of them and tell me what you think. Any suggestions greatly received! My wesite is Thanks so much and please keep writing!

  6. simon vandross October 11, 2014 at 1:15 PM #

    Bruce you’ve being awesomely amazing, couldn’t agree more. The almighty bless your heart.

  7. Dr.Sridevi G December 22, 2014 at 1:47 AM #

    Absolutely true…Very well said…


    If you think you are beaten, you are.
    If you think you dare not, you don’t.
    If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
    It’s almost certain you won’t.
    If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.
    For out of the world we find
    Success begins with a fellows will.
    It’s all in the state of mind.
    If you think you’re outclassed, you are.
    You’ve got to think high to rise.
    You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
    You can ever win a prize.
    Life’s battles don’t always go
    To the stronger or faster person.
    But sooner or later the person who wins
    Is the one who thinks they can….

    ….It’s not your talent or the gift at birth
    It’s not your bankbook that determines worth
    It’s not the color or texture of your skin
    It’s your attitude that lets you win….Denis Waitley
    …Liked it and wanted to share….Have an inspiring day…

  8. Cheryl October 11, 2015 at 2:48 PM #

    So true! Thanks for sharing your insight! 🙂

  9. Cathy December 5, 2019 at 4:38 AM #

    Thank you ! I just learned something tonight. I’m so happy.😊

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