Climbing Out of the Valley of the Can’ts

Eddie Francis
3 min readSep 28, 2018

There is someone who lives in the Valley of the Can’ts and they need help getting out. I know; I’ve been there.

One day, a couple of months before my 43rd birthday, my soon-to-be wife looked me in the eyes and encouraged me to pursue my passions. I was telling her that I just couldn’t see myself achieving some of my goals and it frustrated me to no end. This woman could have easily given some motivational you-can-do-it mumbo jumbo but that’s not how it went down. After a line of questioning, she gave me specific reasons that I would succeed. Then it hit me that I had been in an emotional valley the better part of my adult life and for good reasons.

You see, I was introduced to the Valley of the Can’ts at the beginning of my career. My first job out of college was around folks who took pleasure in telling people what they couldn’t do. A manager told me why I couldn’t get a promotion. My boss took pleasure in telling me what I couldn’t do and why he had to keep me “under control.” I was told why I couldn’t get pay increases even after winning a market award.

Then there were the personal relationships. People whom I trusted told me what I couldn’t do. There were women in my life who convinced me that the Valley of the Can’ts wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But I knew the truth the entire time. The Valley of the Can’ts sucks.

So, how did I get out? I fought like hell until I saw just a glimmer of happiness then I fought harder. Even when I kept myself in the Valley of the Can’ts, there was something in me that kept fighting.

There are people you know— regardless of how fortunate, gifted or smart they are — who are one bad turn away from the Valley of the Can’ts. A highly regarded businessman gets addicted, a successful athlete has a bad game, a model educator gets frustrated; and all of these people get to a point where they feel they just can’t do it anymore.

Here’s the important part. They need neither our pity nor our judgment. They need help finding their way out of the Valley of the Can’ts.

If you are there, do yourself a favor and FIGHT. Allow those who encourage you to be your guide out of the Valley of the Can’ts. They won’t always tell you what you want to hear but they’ll be there. So, note that it takes a brave person who is aware of their identity and value to get out of the valley.

Also know that obstacles will come and they may even get more intense. Manipulation, misfortune, lies and all kinds of insanity are lurking; because misery loves company down there.

The hardest step out of the Valley of the Can’ts is the first one. It takes faith to know that every step after that is one that counts even more. But the more steps you take, the stronger the voices of your supporters will get. They are at the top of the mountain yelling until they can’t yell anymore and the best thing is they won’t quit until you’re out of the Valley of the Can’ts.

Eddie Francis

Brand Strategist | Leadership Scholar | Speaker | Award-Winning Media Veteran