A long time ago someone asked me if I thought I could fly to the moon. “Yes” I said without stopping to give it any consideration. “But that’s ridiculous” the person doing the asking then stated, “of course you can’t fly to the moon!” Blessed with equal measures of resourcefulness and stubbornness, I continued to declare my ability to reach the moon in spite of the arguments thrown at me. The conversation went something like this:
Person A: You cannot fly to the moon.
Me: Yes I can.
Person A: Don’t be silly, you haven’t got a spaceship.
Me: You’re right, I don’t. I would have to get one.
Person A: You can’t just get a space ship!
Me: If I needed a spaceship badly enough I’d get one.
Person A: Spaceships cost money. You don’t have that much money.
Me: I know, if I needed a space ship badly enough I’d have to find a way to raise the money. You know I could do that if I had to.
Person A (slightly grudgingly): Ok, I know if you had to you’d find a way to get the money for a spaceship. But you can’t just go out and buy them and even if you could, you don’t know how to fly anything. You don’t like flying and you’re certainly no astronaut.
Me: If I couldn’t buy a spaceship and I really needed one, I’d have to learn how to build one myself. If I had to I could build a spaceship.
Person A: Hmm. Maybe. But you still don’t like flying and you’re no astronaut.
Me: You’re right, I don’t like flying but I could learn. If I’m going to learn to fly I may as well do some astronaut training too. I like to learn.
Person A: But you know deep down that its just not possible. You can’t fly to the moon because its impossible for people like us to do things like that.
Me: It would be difficult, but it’s not impossible. If I had to fly to the moon I would. I’d find a way to make the money, build the space ship, learn to fly and complete astronaut training. I don’t doubt it would be hard, but in no way is it impossible.
Person A: You’d fail. Crash or something. It’s definitely not possible.
Me: I might fail – I might build a dodgy rocket or crash into some space debris or navigate the wrong course and end up heading into the sun. Still doesn’t mean it’s impossible though – it would just mean I was a rubbish spaceship builder who needed to improve her map reading skills.
Person A: Oh for goodness sakes! YOU are impossible.
Maybe I am a little impossible. The easiest option when posed with a seemingly impossible situation (do you think you can fly to the moon?) is to shrug and say no. The question goes away, all the thinking about how to make it happen goes away and with it, the possibility goes away.
The trouble is, I don’t believe many things are truly impossible. They might be difficult – like climbing Everest or walking to the North Pole or dealing with cancer – but very few are completely out of the question. The most successful people have often overcome the most daunting obstacles, they aren’t prisoners of circumstance, they don’t blame their childhood, education or social setting for the situations they have to face and they don’t lie down and give in. They persist, retain a positive attitude and keep going no matter what gets thrown at them. They recognise that impossible is an opinion, not a fact and that a positive attitude in spite of tricky circumstances can lead to brilliant outcomes.
As Dr John Maxwell says “your attitude colours every aspect of your life. It is like the mind’s paintbrush.” My minds paintbrush is like a rainbow, it rarely bows to gloomy greyness or melancholy black. I think having a positive attitude really makes a difference, not only in what I’m willing to take on or overcome but also in the kinds of people I attract into my life and the depth of friendship we develop. I wonder if its true that people who can find a way through almost any situation attract others who do likewise?
When your next obstacle comes along (as it surely will because our lives are shaped by them) what colour will you put on your minds paintbrush?