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Increasing Possibility In Life

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects of expanding business.

One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES


~ From The Art if Possibility by Zander & Zander

Increasing Possibility in Life

Have you ever tried to do something and given up because you were sure it was impossible to do? Have you ever completely surprised yourself because you actually did something you never thought you could do? Possibility is a direct function of the assumptions and expectations we make about our ability to do something. Having a high quality life comes from being able to consistently accomplish things that you didn't think were possible.

Webster defines impossible as something felt to be incapable of being done, attained or fulfilled. Possible is defined as being within the limits of ability, capacity or realization. Putting these two definitions together highlights an important distinction -- possible is the known world whereas impossible is the unknown and apparently unattainable world.

A number of years ago I volunteered to assist during ropes course program for young kids. I sat at the bottom of a 20-foot telephone pole helping to check their harness lines, belts, and safety ropes. The objective was to climb to the top of the pole, stand on a 1-foot diameter plywood disc directly on top of the pole, turn 180 degrees on the disc and then jump for bar. The bar was a long stretch and most kids didn't grab it. They experienced a short free-fall that was arrested by the twin ropes attached to their harness. Late in the afternoon, the kids asked me to do it.

After watching the kids, my assumption was I can do this. After step 5, I had left the known world and experienced a growing fear. What had been possible only moments before started to become impossible with each step up the pole. At the top of the pole, I placed one foot on the disc and discovered something new -- the pole swayed in the wind. Possibility was now replaced with fear and impossibility. The primary reason I succeeded without falling is because I'd watched 20 plus kids succeed. My expectation was that I would fall yet my assumption was if the kids could do it,then I could. I made the turnaround and missed the bar as I leaped. The kids laughed and my known world now includes both the bottom and the top of the pole.

Where in your life are you holding back from doing something? What would need to happen to have you break out of the box? How we make assumptions and expectations both defines and confines our ability to grow and learn. Perhaps today is a good day to challenge the known and leap joyfully into the unknown. Just make sure you've got your harness and safety lines!

Three Strategies for Creating Possibility in life:

One of the traps we get into as humans is to forget that everyone is just making up life as we go along. In fact, we are the writer,producer, editor, director and critic of our own life story. The next time you feel a lack of possibility, use one of the following strategies.

  1. Whenever you say the words I can't, substitute in I can. Each of us has more choices and options to accomplish a given task than we ever dreamed possible. Start first by affirming that you can do the task and let your mind start to find a creative way to accomplish it.

  2. Fear and lack of possibility go hand in hand. Check to see what beliefs, assumptions or expectations you have around a given task. Most of us mistakenly assume that we have no assumptions. The key here is to assume you have at least one belief, assumption or expectation that you aren't aware of making. Here is an example of one question you could ask yourself - what assumption, belief or expectation am I holding to make this task harder than it has to be? Be creative and adapt this question to fit your current situation. You can tell when you've uncovered the culprit -- your level of fear will diminish as your ability to accomplish grows.

  3. Come up with three new ways to accomplish a task before you need to find a new way to do it. Effectively develop this strategy by first using it on low risk situations or decisions. For example, come up with three new driving routes to reach your local store. To do this, you will need to ignore some specific assumption. In this situation,practicality is one issue that you could ignore. By practicing on low risk situations or decisions, you can build the flexibility needed when you tackle more challenging situations.

By Byron Van Arsdale, MCC, and Bernice Ross, Ph.D., MCC.

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