You Can Do What You Can Do

Jeff Altman
3 min readFeb 8, 2021

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

My father called to tell me that my mother wasn’t NYU Medical Center in New York. She was in a lot of pain and was diagnosed with shingles.

If you do not know what that is, it is the adult version of chickenpox and causes excruciating pain.

Often, it is triggered by stress.

In my mother’s case, the stress was caused because my older brother told her he would be getting a divorce and was surprised. They were always close, and she believed he would have confided in her . . . But he didn’t. That shock triggered the shingles outbreak that left her hospitalized for quite some time.

The first time I visited her, I listened for a while to her talking about her upset and what a surprise it was. This was obviously the trigger for her stress.

I listened for a while and then got her eye contact.

“Mom, you can do what you can do. You can’t do what you can do.”

She wanted to fix things, and she couldn’t. It was beyond her control.

For my mother, who was always assertive and bossy, this was something new for her. What I said gave her peace at that moment for years to come. At times she would repeat that saying in other situations to demonstrate acceptance.

Many of us work in situations where we try to “make things happen.” We think if we say the magic words or do the right thing in precisely that moment, the heavens will open up, and everything will become good again.

We will solve the problem.

Will close the sale.

We will figure out what was wrong and make it right.

And more.

But there are times when we can’t fix things and make it right.

We can only do our best, acting bravely and courageously in the moment.

We can be fearless in the face of difficulty and attempt to resolve the issue, rather than procrastinate.

We can do as much as we can do that accept our imperfections.

I’m sure many of you attended workshops where the trainer asks you to stand up and stretch as high as you can to the ceiling…



Jeff Altman

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. Career Coach. Host of No BS Job Search Advice Radio & Join JobSearch.Community. It will help you