Don’t Back Down, because - Yes You Can!

In 1992, after several years of struggle with a project against major business and personal barriers, I was told to give up and that it couldn’t be done. They were right. They were right because I believed them and I gave up!


Several years later, one evening I called all the operators of a franchise that myself and another business man had established, to a marketing meeting. As the twelve franchise operators arrived at the boardroom, shoulders slumped and heads down, I sat them down around the table. The topic of conversation amongst them was on how well they were NOT doing. These men were an assortment of working men from different backgrounds, but all were just that – workers. They were not like me or others like me, people who have set out to DO SOMETHING.

I handed out pens and a blank sheet of paper to them all. Standing at the head of the table, I asked them to write all the things they could think of that they either liked about me, or thought I was good at. After a few minutes when they had stopped writing, I gathered up the sheets of paper and still standing, read out loud all their comments.

I then handed out another sheet of paper to them. This time I asked them to write all the things that they didn’t like about me, or thought were my weaknesses. They were reluctant, as some of them most likely thought I would take offence and hold it against them. I assured them it wouldn’t be taken personally. They didn’t I’m glad to say, have many things that they could think of to write. Again, when they had finished, I collected the papers. Again, standing at the head of the table, without even looking down at the papers, I tore them into pieces, while looking at their faces, and threw the pieces over my shoulder onto the floor. They all complained that I was happy to read all the good things, but not prepared to accept the bad. I said………. I won’t accept negatives or that something CAN’T be done.

I handed out a third piece of paper and said to them that, that was tomorrow. Tomorrow as with every day was a blank piece of paper. You and only you can decide what to write on it. It’s your piece of paper and it’s your tomorrow and no one other than you can decide what to write on it, or what to do. You can say…. today I will succeed, or you can say……. today I will fail. It’s up to you.

Lately I have been hearing some of the same claims that I heard back in 1992. It can’t be done – those trying to alert the world to the dangers of climate change should give up!

I suggest you get yourselves a blank sheet of paper and stick it to the wall in front of your work desk.

It should be titled YES…I…CAN. Because you need never to believe that, NO I CAN’T.

Several years ago, for my 50th birthday, my brother-in-law gave me a framed quotation by Theodore Roosevelt entitled The Credit. He had added at the base of the frame the inscription “Happy 50th birthday to Hollis. – ‘The Gladiator’, win, lose, or draw, always in the arena.”

The Credit reads like this.

It is not the critic who counts;

nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled;

or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena;

whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strive valiantly;

who err and fall short again and again;

who know the great enthusiasms;

the great devotions;

and spend themselves in a worthy cause;

who at the best know in the end the triumph of high achievement;

and who at worst, if they fail,

at least fail while daring greatly;

so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls

who know neither victory nor defeat.

SO ……….YES…….YOU……….CAN!

Listen as Tom Petty famously sang “I won’t back down”


These are some of the people who won’t back down for my children or yours. We honor them for their commitment to raising the voice of concern. We MUST all achieve what is our only option for the future of those we care about and the future of those we should.

Support the words of these environmental warriors - more will be added as we all work towards the future that is safe. Thank you.


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