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Thanks for taking the time to read our weekly newsletter to help you get Unstuck! Check us out every week for your dose of agile inspiration. We’re striving to keep the content in our 4 Qs brief and powerful so you can get a lot of impact from a little reading!

We’re starting a new series to help you and your teams find actionable steps in complexity! Today, we’ll explore the challenging phrase, “I can’t because…”

Quintessential Thought

As product and people leaders, we regularly face challenging situations where it’s hard to identify actions we can take to move forward. We can end up in the tension between an amazing idea and the inability to implement it, paralyzed by the thought, “I can’t because…” 

Instead of taking the “inaction escape route,” try to identify actions you can take without needing anyone else's permission. While these actions may not address everything you want, they are also entirely in your control.

Here's the beauty: you control your perspectives, thoughts, feelings, and actions. And often, just realizing this sparks a small, previously hidden action that can move things forward.

Here are a few example actions to spur your thinking:

  • Who can I have the next conversation with about this?

  • Who can I thank for their help with this situation?

  • The next time this happens, what would I like to think, feel, say, or do?

  • What is the next thing I can learn about this situation?

  • What is a small experiment I can run to learn?

Next week, we'll explore another way to navigate situations where you can't directly control the outcome, but can still exert some influence.


“I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller

“Every great journey starts with a single step.” – Maya Angelou

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Quick Step

On your most important and challenging issue, identify one small step you can take without anyone else’s permission. Take that small step.


What has the inaction of “I can’t because…” cost you or your team?

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