I used to think that calling something impossible was just a mistake. I thought it was similar to calling a tomato a vegetable. After some thought, however, I’ve realized that “impossible” is a ridiculous idea.
Robbed by “Realistic”
For some reason, we tend to equate rationality or realism with a lack of confidence or hope. You can pursue your career as a professional athlete or artist, launch your charity, or put your music or video on the web, but unless you also include the humble, but horribly myopic caveat that “it’s probably not going anywhere,” you’re considered to be an idiot. We seem to accept that “realistic” means “impossible.”
Being realistic does not mean doubting that you will succeed.
Let me rephrase that:
Impossible doesn’t exist in real life.
I was thinking of all the people who’ve pursued their (seemingly futile) dreams or passions to fruition. Almost everyone in sports, film, art, music, and many others in every other hobby and profession on earth.
Then I realized that the absurdly long list (not just celebrities–people all around you have overcome incredible odds) of people who have conquered “impossible” is only a small part of the picture.
Everything was impossible once.
Before 1876, if you wanted to communicate with someone, you spoke, yelled, or wrote it down and prayed that they’d read it. Now, we talk to people who are in outer space and wave at people on the other side of the world.
Before the 1800s, if you wanted to go somewhere, you walked, rode an animal, or pedaled some kind of bicycle. Now, we can fly. Faster than sound.
We used to count on our fingers. Now we carry computers in our pockets.
We jump twenty-nine feet.
We run miles in under four minutes.
We transplant hands.
Technology, art, physical ability, academia; literally, each aspect of our lives is another hard, fast, reason why calling things “impossible” isn’t just inaccurate; it’s just plain wrong.
Yeah, well I can’t grow wings.
It’s easy to tear down the idea of hope. It’s easy to come up with examples of things that actually, physically, cannot be done (though scientific developments seem to indicate that with enough money, time, and education, you might actually be able to grow/build wings). Such considerations, however, are purposeless in this context.
I’m not talking about physical possibility. I’m talking about the difference between “can’t” and “won’t.” I’m talking about people who “didn’t” who are trying to tell you that they “couldn’t.”
It may be impossible to do it the WAY you want to do it.
You might have to make sacrifices you don’t want to make. You may CHOOSE not to pursue a goal, but that doesn’t make the goal impossible. What if your favorite band had decided not to spend all their money on instruments and studio time?
You might have to tackle the problem from a different angle. Again, the goal isn’t impossible, but your method may prevent you from reaching it. How much differently would the battle of Thermopylae have turned out if the Greeks hadn’t traveled to the Hot Gates?
You might have to work and try and fail many times before you succeed. Still not impossible. Do you think Michael Jordan made the first basket he shot?
Some things may no longer be possible because of choices you’ve made. Your ex may never come back now that you’ve slept with someone else. You may never be an NFL pro because you started practicing at 18 instead of 8. Again, “didn’t” isn’t “couldn’t.” If you want something, make sure you keep your options open.
The greatest danger of the delusion of impossibility is that if you believe your dream is impossible, then you will fail (you won’t prove it impossible, you’ll just find a way to fall short).
It may look impossible. It may feel impossible. It may take sacrifice, pain, patience, intelligence, planning, talent, money, time, effort or a million other things, but if you’re willing to commit those things, then you can succeed. Even if you don’t succeed, the doors you open, even those that lead nowhere, have a way of turning into successes later.
Thanks for reading! Pursue your dreams with all of your ambition, but first, leave a comment and let me know what you’re thinking!