What is Possible?

Society declares something is impossible, and just as soon as society and its experts buy into the proposition, someone comes along and does it anyway. JFK put a man on the moon, Roger Bannister ran a 4-minute mile, at the time of the writing of this, Michael Phelps has won 22 Olympic medals and just qualified for his fifth Olympics. And my favorite, Goran Kropp, Swedish explorer. He hops on his bicycle in Stockholm in October of 1995 and arrives at the base of Mount Everest on April of 1996. Outlandish! He then proceeded to climb the most treacherous mountain in the world without the aid of oxygen or Sherpas. He reached the summit, climbed back down and rode his bicycle home. Improbable, yes. But impossible was clearly not in this dude’s mind.

Most of the individuals I come across in my day to day executive coaching or within the university have encountered some narrow minded, small thinking morsel of a person who has told them what they REALLY want to achieve is impossible. The problem is, most of these dreamers, crazies, believe the lie and squander what has been gifted them and settle in for the long, monotonous, duty filled life that resembles the life of their naysayers more than it does their own true glory.

True, this kind of audacity can be a little dicey as unprecedented perspectives and aspirations can very quickly alienate the masses. The list of history’s mass alienators is long and distinguished. One such individual was the Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi was an Italian inventor and father of the radio. In 1901, he successfully transmitted radio signals across the Atlantic, and in 1909 won the Nobel Prize in Physics. The basis of his work began with the vision that sound could be harnessed and transmitted from one location to another. Upon sharing his vision with friends, he was thrown into an insane asylum. The unprecedented is not for the faint of heart.

Marconi’s story resounds with Apple’s commercial, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”:

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who do.”

If we are to achieve what is impossible, we must begin to think, “What is possible?” Not what is probable or looking to others as a measuring stick, but what “could I actually become” if I set my mind to it. This is not some pie in the sky, positive thinking without work hogwash that has become the norm today, but a reality. When LeBron James left high school and immediately entered the NBA, he was asked by sport psychologist, Dr. Bob Rotella what his goals were. Mr. James stated, “I want to become the best NBA player in history” – This kid arguably has arrived. You want to do something worth writing about? Stop listening to the counsel of the 99% of the population whose names and influence will never be written. It’s a decision, not a birthright.

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