One Saturday in 1987 when I was a strapping young man of 17, one of my chores was to rotate the tires on one of our family cars (rotating tires merely means taking off each wheel and moving them to different locations to even out the wear). Using the tire wrench I struggled and struggled to loosen the bolts securing the first wheel. After about 15 minutes of strenuous effort, I determined the bolts were hopelessly stuck and I couldn’t get them off.
I went in and told my father “the wheel won’t come off – the bolts are stuck – they might be rusted on.” My father replied, “they aren’t stuck or rusted – go back out and try harder and get the wheel off.”
I struggled for 15 more minutes. They wouldn’t budge. I appealed to my father for help again. He came out, rolled up his sleeves, and loosened each of the bolts. I couldn’t believe it. At 17 I was stronger than my 41-year-old father. I was stunned that he was able to loosen the bolts. I asked him how he did it. His reply has stuck with me:
“Two things: First, I believed I could do it. You didn’t believe you could. Second, I had nobody to go to for help so I had to do it. You’ll dig deeper if there is no other option.”
This lesson has come back to me over and over and over. It has helped in my career, in sports, in relationships, and even when I’ve needed to change a tire. Believing that you can do something is powerful and can be the difference between success and failure.