When we begin to have the mindset that nothing is impossible, it becomes easier to do something about whatever challenge we have in life or whatever project we want to pursue.
It has been proven that whenever we have a problem to solve and we think that the problem is an impossible one, our brain automatically shuts down and does not bother to look for solutions in order to get out of that predicament. It could be applied to every area of our lives, whether school project, business idea or anything that requires us to think, which is what none of us clearly loves to do – think.
What could be more impossible than mere men building a tower that will enable them see what God sitting room looks like? In Genesis 11, we see the famous story of the tower of Babel.
Genesis 11:1 Now the whole earth had one language and few words. 2 And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
Paying particular attention to verse 6, we see that God must have called Jesus and the Holy Spirit and said, ‘These men are very serious; if we leave them, they’ll one day come up here and see how things are, for nothing they make up their mind to do will be impossible for them.” After that discussion, I’m sure the Holy Spirit must have suggested that their language be confused which is why it did not happen.
Same goes for you. If you are serious and you have partners with whom you are united, nothing you make up your mind to do will be impossible!
Do not listen to Impossibility Preachers. Look for those who are succeeding and listen to them.
Going back to the story of Caleb and Joshua, who knew that with what God put in them they could surmount whatever they set their heart to do? They stopped seeing themselves as grasshoppers and began to see themselves as conquerors. The truth is that you are a conqueror. It is high time you started seeing yourself as one and not as a grasshopper – in your class, office or wherever you find yourself. The moment you stop seeing yourself as a grasshopper, you are in a better position to do something. It is almost dramatic as you become aware of the beautiful ideas that can help you in doing what you want to do.
How do you see yourself?
There are certain problems that, as my friend Aleibiri Basil will put it, tend to place a demand on our potential. They tend to stretch us until our best is seen. They are there to make us grow. They are there for us to learn a better, more efficient way of doing things. They are there to usher us into a new level in life.
The moment, however, we begin to dodge challenges and settle only for the things we know how to do very well, we will never grow.
The same God, who saw you through the past, is the still there to see you through the present and even the future.
Those who have gone before you can give you what is called ‘orientation’. They’ll tell you how things work around there, what things are possible and what things aren’t. They’ll let you know where many have tried and failed and how you are to live in that environment. Orientation is good, but choose to look beyond the orientation.
I like the Abu Dhabi Advert: ‘A place where boundaries are defined…and ignored.’
William Wilberforce, a British politician, a philanthropist and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade, was the youngest member of the House of Commons at just 21. His friend and colleague, William Pitt had told him of his plan to become Prime Minister. Wilberforce, startled at his intention, was scared saying that no one of their age has ever taken power. I like how William Pitt reacted to that statement: “…which is why we are too young to realize that certain things are impossible; and we go ahead and do them.”
The both of them joined forces to see that slave trade was abolished in Great Britain.
When we came into Moscow city, most of us were told there are no student-jobs; that all we needed was a bus pass and a metro pass to survive; that we should eat well as the cold was deadly. Because of what we have heard and perhaps seen, we tended to limit our horizons; we budget only for a metro card and a bus pass while others are driving cars, as driving a car, they say, is impossible. Says who?
Never let your environment condition your thinking. Our first challenge was the language. “Oh the language! The language is the toughest!” Says who? Because we dreamt that Russki was tough, we were scared at every mention of a Russian word. “That teacher is tough.” Yet studious boys and girls leave the examination hall with excellent grades. Let’s stop cooking up excuses for ourselves. Let’s stop allowing people’s failures to be our benchmark.
Never be comfortable with your present once you sense the need for change.
Someone once said: “Everything is possible; it’s just that the impossible things take a little longer to figure out!”
I totally agree with that person. The impossible things just take a little longer to figure out. A lot of people tag certain things as ‘impossible’, most probably due to the fact that they are not willing to put in the amount of time that special project requires. They are not willing to concentrate on how that feat can be achieved, not willing to bend down and try to solve the question (in the case of a student). No one wants to think.
Certain inventions, at a time in the past, must have been seen as impossible. How on earth would anyone have seen the invention of things like mobile phones, airplanes and the many more wonders of the modern world as possible? But for the sacrifice of a few men, who weren’t enticed by the propaganda of the lazy, we can enjoy the fruit of their worthwhile inventions. You too can do something that people will wow at. You only have to see it as possible and be willing to invest the necessary time and energy that is needed to make it happen.
A simple example is the phobia for mathematics that several people I know have – arithmophobia. Believing that mathematics is hard, they shut their brains at even trying to solve any arithmetic problem. This sometimes stems from the fact that they refused to practice with smaller numbers. When, therefore, the big numbers show up, they see them as big, rather than see the numbers as a combination of numbers zero to nine. We cannot automatically solve big problems if we refuse to pay attention to the basics.
Begin to see things differently, trust me your phobia list will decrease.
One other major reason why people give up on a lot of things they should have done is stress.
7 years ago, in my final Further Mathematics exam – one acclaimed to be the most difficult exam – I had solved all the objective questions and was presented with the theory questions, about 5 of them, out of which we were to answer 4. The first integration question threw me off, I couldn’t solve it; it was a nearly impossible accomplishment. I tried and tried yet there was no headway. The question on permutations and combinations looked like Greek to me.
I was frustrated. I looked around me. There were about 9 of us sitting for the exam. 10 others couldn’t cope with the subject and had dropped it before the exam. We were the best 9 students in that exam hall. “If I, as the best in the class, cannot solve even one question what would be the fate of the other nine?” I asked myself. Without waiting for an answer, I walked up to the invigilator and mentioned that I was leaving the exam hall. I was not going to continue the exam. I gave up. The invigilator, being a nice man who knew my capabilities, encouraged me to just take a ten-minute break before trying to solve the question. I did just that, shed a few tears and then continued the exam.
It was as though I had a different set of questions that I knew how to solve. I solved my questions happily, applying all the Further Math principles I had learnt in my life. When the results came out, I had a clean A.
I tried that same thing in one of my exams in Russia here. Being that I didn’t know any of the answers to the questions I was given, I walked to the lecturer, telling him that I wanted to leave the hall as I couldn’t answer the questions. I expected him to encourage me to at least try, as my high school teacher did. To my dismay, the guy collected the question paper from me. “See you later,” he said to me. It didn’t work out like the first time.
Lesson: learn to encourage yourself. If you expect people to always tell you, “it is possible! It is possible!” you might never hear those words. Be the first to tell yourself, ‘It is possible!’
A Russian lady, Natasha Vibornaya, a student of Architecture, shared her experience with me. She had tried doing a painting, but it was not working out as she wanted it. She said she tried and tried to the point that she got tired and frustrated and almost got into depression, causing her to call herself names and question her abilities and capabilities. When I asked her what she did after that, she simply said what I hope we’ll all say when we get into a situation like that, “I just bought myself something to drink, rested for a while and went back to the work I was painting.” The work was finally done and she was happy with what she painted.
Whenever I am in a fix, I try to apply a simple principle which I call the PAUSE principle.
A – Arrange yourself (get organized)
U – Understand what the problem is
S – Seek advice.
E – Explode.
P – Pray. Whenever you are in a fix and you do not know what to do. It is wise that you go on your knees and talk to the One who knows everything that concerns you and your plan. Praying is a valid key to doing something.
“Commit your ways unto the Lord and your plan will succeed.”
– Prov 16:3
A – Arrange yourself. Take a moment and think about what you are doing. Organize yourself afresh. Look at your project and try analyzing it from a different angle. Perhaps you have been doing it wrong the whole time. It’s time you stopped and looked at it again. Someone asked me, “what if a person has been doing something and it is not working, what should he or she do?” The good thing here is that he or she is doing something. However, there is no way you can do something the same way over and over again and get a different result. That would be a miracle. You will need a new plan. Re-organanize. Re-strategize.
U – Understand what the problem is. Ok, this is the hardest part, I must confess, and you’ll need to be willing to spend time on this one. Go over the whole project again and try to see if there is anything you may have left out in a hurry. Take your time to check that there aren’t any obvious mistakes. Even when you have failed, you should use this opportunity to find out why and learn from your mistakes. Someone said, “Sometimes we win and sometimes we learn.” Learn from this one too.
S – Seek advice. We should learn to be humble at times. Talk with those who are experienced in that particular field and try to find out why the project is going wrong. If it is an investment, talk to a successful investment banker, if it is a school assignment, consult with someone who has taken that class ahead of you – for in a multitude of counselors there is wisdom.
E – Explode. After you have done all this and God willing, you’ve been able to discover why it is not working out, you are now ready to go back to the project and do something about it. It is now time to shine by doing what you should do. Explode!
“Believe that anything you can imagine, you can make real.”
The time to start doing those things that seem impossible is now, not tomorrow, not next month, but now. I tell you why. If you do not start today to surmount certain necessary challenges and get used to what I call the ‘possibility syndrome’, by the time greater problems or challenges arise, they will require a certain depth of knowledge which you will not have, and It will be very hard for you to achieve that feat at a later point in time without ample preparation which must start now.
Likewise in leadership, if you have not trained yourself to lead twenty people, leading a hundred people may seem unachievable to you. That is why we need to learn to master little so that when we are faithful in the little things; greater things will be given to us, knowing that we are capable of handling them.
Truly, impossible is nothing, nonetheless, we still have to do something.
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