“Impossible is not a fact.
Impossible is an opinion.
Impossible is nothing.”
I was watching the memorial service for Muhammad Ali last week and amidst the other moving speeches and eulogies, a young woman, Natasha Mundkar, spoke of how Ali had affected her life. The quote above particularly struck me.
So often we are told, or we tell ourselves, that something is impossible and many of us stop at that point. We just write something off and perhaps have a low level regret for the rest of our lives that we never did that ‘impossible’ thing.
Now let me get something clear at the beginning. I am not one of those people who believes that if you think enough positive thoughts and set your sights on something hard enough, it will happen. And if it doesn’t, well you obviously didn’t want it enough/try hard enough. But I do believe that if we step back from the knee jerk reaction - it’s impossible - we can find other ways to get fulfilment.
Let’s look at an example. In 2012, I watched Felix Baumgartner’s amazing free fall from space from the moment he gently tipped himself off the edge of his craft 127,852 feet above the earth to the moment he landed like he had just jumped off a high chair. I am very risk averse when it comes to things physical and jumping off a kerb would be a challenge. But as I watched the Baumgartner, I thought it looked like one of the most amazing experiences ever, something that even I might want to try. (And just to pre-empt any thoughts you may be having, this blog isn’t going to finish with me announcing a challenge to Baumgartner’s record, but stay with me!)
As an academic exercise, I started thinking about what if I had had a really powerful urge to emulate Baumgartner’s feat? Well, come on, it literally wouldn’t get off the launchpad. It would be impossible. After all, at that time, I was in my early 50s; a tad overweight; fit enough for everyday life, but certainly not ‘going into space’ fit; and with absolutely no access to a space rocket. And even if I won the lottery, it probably still wouldn’t be enough to fund my own project.
Then I started thinking, so what are some of the things which were exciting about the project? And what other ways could these be explored?
The idea of weightlessness or freefalling? I could save my pennies for a once in a lifetime holiday which includes a trip in a zero gravity flight; ask for gift vouchers to an indoor skydiving experience; try a tandem skydive; or sign up for a parachute jump for charity.
Seeing the world from a completely different perspective? Another holiday, this time to the coast to include a trip in a three person submersible.
Going into space as a civilian? Win the lottery and pay to go on a trip to the International Space Station.
Understanding what happens physically to someone under these conditions? Find a university course studying effects of a near vacuum on the human body…
You get the idea. Of course, I realise none of them are actually leaping from a craft at the edge of space. But by not just dismissing it as ‘impossible’, there are ways to get near the experience or the source of the interest.
As a more real example, for me running my own business would have been impossible 10 years ago, for more reasons I can go in to. Yet, here I am!
So what seems impossible to you? And how can you break it down into 'doable' elements?
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