Turn “If Only” Into Your Superpower

Turn “If Only” Into Your Superpower

Stephen Carter
March 18, 2024
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The final chapter of Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich includes a listing of “55 Famous Alibis” that all of us, from time to time, use as excuses. All these alibis start with “if only” and then proceed to list something tangible or intangible that we need in order to kick start our success.

The list includes: if only I had money . . . if only I had time . . . if only I had the personality of some people . . . if only I could just get started . . . and many more. The list is convicting and serves as a reminder that “if only” leads only to excuse away whatever failure we are experiencing.

The beauty is how quickly we can reverse this thinking. One of the principles on which the entrepreneurial mindset is founded is “constraints breed creativity” and if we modify our approach to “if only” then we can see these potential excuses as opportunities.

In fact, I would go so far as to say there is cause to celebrate when we find an “if only” because we have given ourselves a chance to embrace a constraint and use it to our advantage. “If only I had more money” means we need to get creative with the money we do have. “If only I had more time” means we need to better prioritize to make the most of the time we do have. “If only” serves to identify a constraint and within that constraint, there is opportunity for great creativity.

When people come to visit the entrepreneurship program at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, they sometimes leave discouraged by the sheer scope and size and cost—but they are forgetting that our program started with the constraints of money, space, and time—and not enough of any. Within those constraints, however, creativity blossomed.

No money? No problem—we would earn it through student-run business ventures. No space? Perfect—we can innovate to meet students where they are. No time? Excellent—we’ll have to be wildly productive in the little time we do have.

There’s a reason I advocate helping students think like entrepreneurs—successful entrepreneurs are aware of their “if onlys” and they treat them like the superpowers they are. What are the “if onlys” you need to get excited about? What are the “if onlys” you need to embrace to start meaningful entrepreneurship programming at your school?

Let’s Go!


No time to go for a hike? Perfect—better get up at daybreak to get started!


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Imagine your culture infused with growth mindset, grit, redefining failure, and opportunity seeking. Imagine your team acting and thinking like entrepreneurs.

Stephen Carter

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