“It always seems impossible … until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Take a moment to think about the events that really transformed and defined this nation. Were they easy to pull off? Of course not. I can think of three that (according to the experts at the time) shouldn’t have happened. They were impossible.
In April of 1775, people were saying we would get our asses kicked if we ever tried to fight the British and win our independence. After all: Who were we? A tiny collection of upstart colonies who couldn’t agree on anything. England was a huge global power that had more money, more resources, and more allies than we did. Start — and win — a revolution? Forget it. Impossible. Then came the “shot heard ’round the world” and the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Was winning easy (or quick)? No. Was it impossible? Hell, no. The moral to this story: Never, ever quit … and remember that your dreams and independence are worth fighting for.
In November of 1879, a guy filed for a patent. This patent was for something that a lot of people had believed could never, ever be perfected: a functioning electric light bulb. For years, he’d heard that the design hurdles were impossible to overcome … and he’d also heard that electricity was so dangerous that it would never be able to be used on a massive scale in people’s homes. The guy’s name was Thomas Edison; he eventually launched a little outfit called General Electric. Here’s what Edison had to say about the word “impossible”:
“Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged and quits. That’s not the place to become discouraged or to quit.”
He also said:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I love that. The moral to this story: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again … and never, ever stop dreaming.
In December 1955, a lot of people in the South believed that you could never expect to change the laws that protected public racism. It was impossible to end segregation; that was just the way that part of the country worked. Then, on a long bus ride home from work, a lady named Rosa Parks heard a Montgomery, Alabama bus driver order her and three other black people to move to the back of the bus to make room for white passengers. “The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us,” she said later. “We didn’t move at the beginning, but he says, ‘Let me have these seats.’ And the other three people moved, but I didn’t.” Was it easy to challenge racism in the United States back then? No. You could get killed for that. Did it have to happen, even though it looked impossible to some people? Hell, yes. The moral to this story: When you believe in positive change and you believe that change deserves to be imminent … do something to effectuate that change.
“Impossible” is a word we use when we want permission to stop thinking about how to achieve an important goal. Permission denied. “Impossible” is no excuse.