(Note: as I mentioned in “About MMM,” some of these posts are from my former blog, because they fit the MMM theme. This is one of those posts… however, I’ve updated it with new information.)
“One can’t believe impossible things,” said Alice.
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” the White Queen replied. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~~ Lewis Carroll
I decided to look up this quote one day after reading my horoscope. The horoscope told me (regarding impossible things): “the funny thing is once you let yourself believe them, they don’t seem all that impossible to begin with. The first step is to let yourself believe that such benevolence is in store for you. So go ahead — what are three wonderful, lovely and no-way-that-could-happen-to-me things that you want in your life?”
That caused me to pause– because from an early age we are taught, like Alice, to not even consider impossible things. It’s just a waste of time, right? Why even go there?
Then it dawned on me… that’s the main problem, isn’t it? Very few people dream anymore. I know I’m guilty of this.
Many years ago— when I was really struggling for happiness in the news business— a mentor of mine asked me what I wanted out of life. I told him that I really wanted to start my own business: a public relations firm for charities and non-profit organizations. But I had no money to start one. And even if I could get past that hurdle, I would most likely not make enough money to survive — since I wouldn’t want to charge my clients a lot for my services.
“Why don’t you try to get a small business loan from the bank?” he asked innocently… as if getting a loan is the easiest thing in the world.
“Um,” I was slightly annoyed. “because I would never get one.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“Because they aren’t going to give a loan to a person who might not be able to pay it back. There isn’t a lot of money in providing PR services to charities at a discount.”
He gave me a little smile. “So you’re going to admit defeat before you even try.”
(NOTE: By this time, I was highly annoyed and my head hurt — which was always a sign that he was making a valid point.)
“I just don’t see the point since I’m just going to be rejected anyway.”
This is where he pulled out the maddening wisdom that always made sense: “So what? You could be rejected 300 times before you find someone who says ‘yes’. At that point, it’s only the ‘yes’ that matters.”
And yet another dear friend of mine pulled out this quote from Thomas Edison just last year during a similar conversation. Edison says regarding the time that it took him to invent the light bulb:
“I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
And as my friend went on to say very succinctly and wisely: “Sometimes you have to figure out the wrong ways before you can find the right way.”
Very often we get stuck in a rut, thinking there is no way out… so why even try? We give up on our dreams thinking that there is no way.
But just because you haven’t found the right way yet, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way at all. Like Edison, allow yourself to eliminate the ways that won’t work.
I’m going to repeat that with emphasis on a different part of the sentence, because it bears repeating: ALLOW yourself to eliminate the ways that won’t work. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t throw in the towel and declare automatic defeat.
I know. Easier said than done. I’m still working on this myself. Constantly.
So my challenge for myself is this. I’m going to believe in three “impossible” things— I’m also going to put the word “impossible” in quotes from now on ;)— and reaffirm my belief for these things every day. At the same time, I’m going to take small steps toward achieving these things.
The worst that could happen is that I don’t achieve the “impossible.” But at least I can move forward knowing that I tried.