Motivation & Inspiration

Mind Over Matter

In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can. Nikos Kazantzakis

To BELIEVE in ourselves and our ability is not a new concept, but it is an important concept if we want to improve ourselves and be successful.

Someone in your childhood may have read you the story in which a challenged choo-choo train was taught to repeat the phrase “I think I can,” but the well-known tale, The Little Engine that Could, penned in 1930 in a childhood “Golden Book” was not an original story. It was, however, the author, Watty Piper, who gave the concept and story a lasting audience.

In 1902, the idea of “I think I can” was first published in a Swedish journal. It reappears as part of a sermon by Reverend Charles S. Wing titled “Story of the Engine that Thought It Could.”

Read more about the background of the story, The Little Engine That Could, HERE.

This philosophy is now known as VISUALIZATION.


Visualization is nothing new.

Back in the late 1970s, I had a theater director (Lollie Smith) who guided us through visualization exercises. She believed that if you visualized what you wanted, you would get there. To show us the effect this had, she guided us through the following exercise. She asked us to try to touch our toes and make a mental note of how far we were able to bend. When we stood back up, she had us close our eyes and slowly picture ourselves reaching farther than we had: if we hadn’t touched the floor, in our mind we were to touch the floor; if we had touched the floor, in our mind we were to place our palms on the floor. Then, she had us open our eyes and try to touch our toes again. Each and every one of us were able to extend ourselves past our original mark.

After college, when I was teaching pre-schoolers to swim at a local YMCA, I included the statement “I think I can” with reluctant students. As I held their hands and moved them in a swimming motion, we repeated the statement over and over until they had covered the length of the pool. A smile would usually cover their face as they realized that they had just done what they had said they couldn’t.

It is BELIEVING in yourself that helps make everything possible.

The first time I got behind the wheel of the F150 to pull the camper from Tennessee to Illinois. Yup, I was scared to pull the 27′ camper on the major highways. It had been my husband’s job to drive the truck while pulling the camper, but eye problems required me to take over. I kept telling myself as I eased onto the highway my mantras: “I’ve got this.” and “I think I can.”

I’m using it in teaching my step-daughter how to drive. “You’ve got this.”

In many cases, when we believe that we can do something, we find that we have the confidence to do that thing we didn’t know we could do.

Try saying to yourself “I think I can.” and “I’ve got this.” the next time you

  • have an interview for a job you want
  • are working out and have a few minutes left on the treadmill
  • tackle a task that’s new to you


  • Make sure you are prepared for the interview,
  • Make sure you know your limits on the treadmill (If you set the contraption for 60 minutes and you have only done 15 minutes in the past, your limits might not be where your aim is.)
  • Make sure you have done your research and know how to do that new task.


How will you use this phrase in your daily life? Is there another phrase you use?

How do phrases like these help you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.


As you move through your day-to-day activities and responsibilities, please remember to

Live Life –

Keep Things Simple –

Look for the Positive –



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