If you want to be a loser, it’s real easy.  All you have to do is say one word.

It’s a word that, if you say it enough times, will make sure you’re on a losing team, in a rut, among no friends and alone at Christmas.

Say it if you want people to frown, scowl, raise their blood pressure and think your IQ is low. Say it to someone if you want them to avoid you, not answer the phone and not invite you to parties.

Mr. Dictionary has no definition for it and Mrs. Thesaurus has no synonyms to match it, so what does that tell you? 

Its parents are futile and impossible, its sisters are hopeless, impractical and inaccessible, its brother is inconceivable and its cousins are insurmountable, no-way, not a prayer and out of the question.

Of course, it’s the grandson of preposterous and the great-grandson of unobtainable.

Meanwhile, its son’s name is useless and together they are a real popular and uplifting family. Use the word and you’ll need to drag them all along everywhere you go.

Someone said it to me at a meeting recently and I thought it showed a lack of insight, intelligence, foresight and imagination.

To me using the word is on equal grounds with abusing a child, illegally dumping radioactive waste and not washing your hands after using the restroom. It’s about as stylish as smoking, shag carpeting, a leisure suit and plaid polyester pants.

I hate it worse than slimy lutefisk and a girl who kisses her dog on the lips and then me.

Come to think of it, it might be an IQ test.  Simply count the number of times someone says it in an afternoon, subtract 10 points each time and you have your score.

Had Noah said it he’d have never built the ark, Abe Lincoln would have remained a gangly lawyer, you wouldn’t know Lawrence Welk or Roger Maris, Phil Jackson might still be in Williston, Neal Armstrong’s view of the moon would’ve been no better than yours and ET would still be phoning home.

People who use it should be banned from committees or meetings, coaching any sport, visiting someone in a hospital, giving a sermon and entering a coffee shop.

It causes depression, derision, dejection, desperation, despondency and disconsolation. It also causes discouragement, dispiritedness, distress, dolefulness, downheartedness, dreariness, dullness, gloom and doom. No word deserves to be able to do that.

Who knows how many lives it has ruined, ideas it has squelched, projects it has stopped and trains it has derailed.

The word I am talking about is the word “can’t.”

It’s the favorite word of The Defeatist’s Association of America because it lets everyone off the hook, relieves any pressure, reduces the workload and risk and explains anything that might possibly have “gone wrong” in nearly every situation. 

In fact, this word proves that Henry Ford, the creator of the Ford Motor Co., was right when he said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” 

Kevin Holten is the president of the North Dakota Cowboy Association and executive director of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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