The Four Squares: Can and Will

Whether or not you take action and complete a task lies at the intersection of your ability and desire. That’s what the Four Squares tool seeks to capture. Oftentimes we have a Moment of Truth to discover why expectations have gone unmet. It is not enough just to know that they are unmet, for there are many reasons why this could be the case. Rather, we should be curious investigators and get to the root of the issue. 

Over the next four weeks, we will unpack each of the four squares: discovering how someone can come to be in this square and what is necessary to move to a place of action. 

Can and Will

The first square we will look at is Can and Will. This is the intersection of ability and desire and is the place where action takes place. 

But people rarely arrive at this square by accident. So what happened for their ability and desire to align? 


People with a Transcendent There are more likely to desire to complete their tasks at hand than those without a There for their life. Now, this isn’t because having a There magically puts you in situations where you get to work at what you’re passionate about. Rather, a There puts your present tasks into perspective and gives you something to work for beyond what is currently on your to-do list. 

For example, let’s imagine two people who are working the same entry level marketing job. They both desire to use creative talents that their current job does not satisfy. Person A does not have a There and has become apathetic to their daily administrative tasks, not caring to put in as much effort as they did when they first started the job. Person B has a Strategic There of being a marketing executive that would have more artistic power and understands that they need to work at this job first in order to make it where they want to go. Even though Person B does not enjoy the activities of the job any more than Person A does, they know why they’re staying at this job: to work hard enough to be able to level up and do something that is more in line with their talents and passions. 

Mundane tasks that seem like drudgery can take on new shape when you understand the bigger picture reason behind why they are necessary. This can involve having a personal There or buying into an institutional mission. 


But desire is half the battle. You also have to have the skills necessary to accomplish the task. This can be achieved in a few ways: previous training, training on the job, and self-education. 

It is tempting to blame others for whether or not they have given you the training you need to complete your job, and sure, sometimes that is true. But in this digital age let’s not forget all the resources and tutorials that are easily accessible if you need to learn how to use a new platform, for example. 

Even if you are following a There for your life, it’s possible that your Path will have changed along the way and that what you studied has not prepared you for your current reality. 

So what happens when someone has the desire to complete a task but no ability? We’ll tackle that question next week. 

Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Management Coordinator for The Crossroad.