“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” (Muhammad Ali) Don’t tell me it is impossible, but find a way to succeed!
When I was a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Consultant and entrepreneur, I often heard that statement. I remember bankers telling me it was impossible too. At one time or another, I think I heard a colleague or friend tell me some idea was impossible. Do you think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs may have heard those words too? There will always be doubters out there, but you can choose not to be one of them.
I saw firsthand how my parents did the impossible. They started businesses at probably the worst time in history. My father started a business in the early 1920’s and my mother started a business just before the Great Depression. Their businesses flourished for thirty plus years and twenty-seven (27) years respectively. They were willing to put themselves out there although it was difficult.
Words like impossible make me smile! See, I like the word because it means that few people can do it. That is one of the reasons, they call it impossible. Is it ever really impossible? I often talk to my students about the impossible. I remember a fellow student in high school who was short (5 ft. 8 in.) could dunk the basketball. I am sure he was told it was impossible, but he worked and worked on it until he could do it.
Maybe, he should have given up because he was too short. The coach was not looking for someone to dunk. The coach just wanted players who could shoot a basket consistently with a high probability of making the basket. Winning teams are looking for players that work well together and consistently win. Whether it is a sports team or a business, you are faced with obstacles or an impossible goal.
There are many inventions or perhaps a whole industry that was once considered impossible. Things like fire, flying, electricity, telephone, sending a rocket to the moon or the internet was once impossible. More recently, if you told me I could carry around an iPhone or tablet and connect to the internet ten (10) years ago, I would have thought you were crazy or it was impossible.
Five Steps to Success
Believe in yourself
Let’s face it; there is a long list of things that people said were impossible! Someone or a team of people believed that could do it and it happened. It is the start of getting any impossible goal done. You have to believe you can do it in order to succeed. I think there are a lot of people who believe in something, but more importantly have the skills and a plan to make it happen. It is called a vision!
Problem solving skills
They treat the impossible as a problem and just solve it. It may take someone brilliant, a team or a whole company to solve it, but it started out as impossible. You start with the outcome, goal or solution and work backwards.
- Identify the problem.
- Gather information or alternatives.
- Create possible solutions.
- Make a decision.
- Evaluate your results.
Establishing a goal or outcome and treating it like it is just a problem is the start of the solution. There is no guarantee of solving every problem, but you need to approach it positively.
Small changes work when you want to change habits or behaviors! Starting small can work for the impossible too. I used to take huge goals and break them down into small daily/weekly /monthly tasks in conjunction with a long range plan. You need to use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) and have an action plan. A plan makes the impossible achievable!
Surprise, everyone fails! Successful people probably fail more than once, but they keep going and succeed. They are more determined to succeed than other people. Determination is simply not giving up! It is when you made the decision to do something and you will not let anything or anyone stop you. It is a commitment to success. How committed are you to your goals?
Self reflection is very important! Thinking about your success or failures is an opportunity to learn. You can apply what you learn from success and learn from your mistakes. What would you do differently to achieve different results? You learn much more from your failures or mistakes than success. Reflecting on success and failure teaches you to make changes and improve your results. It is a good process to improve decision making.
Nothing is impossible! No one point is enough to do the impossible. It takes a strong belief in yourself and the project, good problem solving skills, breaking down huge goals, determination and reflection. I do not mean to simplify the process because there are many obstacles. You need to monitor your progress and adjust your efforts along the way. Anyone can do the impossible, but only a few attempt it. Are you one of them? Impossible is an opinion!
Photo by chucknado
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