Has Our Can-Do Spirit Gotten Us Canned?

In an effort to suspend judgement here, I must admit we’re a nation of ‘doing too much’. Perhaps it’s simply in our cultural DNA to don the can-do spirit like we would a Hoodie. But Daniel Pink raises a great question about that in a recent blog post. Just because we can-do doesn’t mean we should.

There. I said it. Should. It’s a word I try to avoid, but it’s times like these that require drastic measures. It seems as if our can-do spirit has us duped.

Really what Daniel’s saying is there are a lot of things we want to do; but that doesn’t necessarily lead us down the road to infinite happiness. We’re still human beings with all the frailities attached to it. We like to take short cuts and feel good about it in the process.

Like diet experts, he says, personal productivity gurus have mushroomed out of the ground in the last few years because no one seems to be crying “Halt — in the name of my sanity!” He explores the most powerful one-word sentence in the English language.


Say it with me now ~ “No. Nope. Uh-uh.”

But is saying ‘no’ to ourselves, our wants, our could-do-ness, really all that fun? Really it’s not. Like cheese fries over cottage cheese, we are faced with choices that may not be as fun, but are ultimately better for us.

Take unplugging for a weekend as an example. Can you really feel whole by not turning on your smartphone first thing in the morning to see what you might have missed at night? It requires a whole skill set of discipline and mindfulness that you might not possess.

As my friend recently inquired, where do we get the willpower?

That’s where support systems (and, yes, personal productivity gurus) come in. We might need to set a process in place in which external reminders grab our attention when we swerve off the path of slow.

I’m not saying you should. But you could.

Will you?



  1. Debora

    February 27, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Do you know the Biblical story of Martha and Mary…where Martha is running around like a chicken with her head cut off while Mary is sitting quietly at Jesus feet, listening to him. Martha gets ticked off and asks Jesus to tell Mary to get busy and help her. Jesus tells Martha that there is only one thing that is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part.
    Bottom line; we need to chose between being busy, busy, busy, or being at peace.

    1. powerofslow

      February 27, 2012 at 7:13 am

      Love this analogy. Thanks, Debora!

  2. Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Should « Johnny's Warehouse

    March 4, 2012 at 6:49 am

    […] week a blog post entitled ” Has Our Can-Do Spirit Gotten Us Canned ? “ from The Power of Slow  ,which I reblogged on this site, really spoke to me and I have been internet dieting, so to […]

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