Note from Ray: At our recent RWDevCon tutorial conference, in addition to hands-on tutorials, we also had a number of “inspiration talks” – non-technical talks with the goal of giving you a new idea, some battle-won advice, and leaving you excited and energized.
We recorded these talks so that you can enjoy them, even if you didn’t get to attend the conference. Here’s our next talk – Possible by Tammy Coron – I hope you enjoy!
When I was younger, my mother used to say to me that nothing is impossible. She would say that the impossible just takes a little longer.
At the time, I was positive her words were meant to encourage me and to make me feel better about myself. After all, watching your child deal with failure after failure, something I was quite good at, is difficult to say the least.
Having two children of my own now, I can honestly say that watching your child struggle, or any child for that matter, is one of the most painful things a parent can witness. Of course, I didn’t understand that then, but now I understand it only all too well.
As parents, we want our children to succeed. We want them to have the confidence in themselves to keep trying and to keep reaching out to make their dreams a reality.
Like my mother did for me, I now do for my two boys. Of course when I do they look at me kind of funny and they wonder the same thing that I did when my mom told me about the impossible, “Is she nuts? Doesn’t she get it? There are lots of things that are impossible.”
Let’s step back for a minute and clear something up. What does the word impossible mean? In the dictionary it reads, “Not able to occur, exist or be done.”
It’s pretty hard to misinterpret that, right? If this is what impossible means, then why would my mother lead me to believe otherwise? Was she setting me up for failure? Doesn’t she realize that things are impossible? I’m pretty sure she was setting me up for failure.
Actually she wasn’t. It wasn’t until later that I realized what she meant. For years she drilled that same message into my head.
Time and time again, especially when I was at my wits end with one thing or another, she would say, “The impossible just takes a little longer. The impossible just takes a little longer.”
Honestly at the time, it was more frustrating than encouraging, but because I love my mom I would patiently listen. I would thank her and then I would go back and try and figure out how to do exactly what it was I was trying to do.
Oddly enough, in a roundabout sort of way (that’s a shameless plug for my podcast Roundabout by the way) her method of encouragement worked. I didn’t give up. I never gave up.
To this day, I still don’t give up. It’s like what Rocky says, “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving.”
When you stop to think about it, her message and now my message to you is not about the impossible taking longer. It really isn’t. In fact, it has nothing to do with the impossible.
What it boils down to is what is possible. What am I truly capable of accomplishing?
How Does Success Begin?
When you give up, things that are possible never happen. They get replaced with failures. They become impossible.
Think about this: What would have happened if Orville and Wilbur Wright believed everyone else around them? After all, everyone knows it’s impossible for man to fly.
It’s difficult to imagine that even the most successful people started somewhere. Take for example this guy, Steve Jobs. He wasn’t born into the Apple world. He made it through trial and error. He had many failures along the way.
In fact, he was even kicked out of his own company, but instead of giving up he went back and figured things out. He learned how to do things right, how to make the impossible possible.
Of course we all know how the rest of the story goes. If he had given up, none of us would be sitting here today.
Almost all success stories started with a failure at some point. It’s this failure part of the story that’s missing within the folklore of success. When we hear these stories, we have a very distorted view of the formula for success.
Did you ever wonder how many failures times rejections divided by blood, sweat and tears equals success?
Yeah, me too, but it’s math so we’re going to skip it. :]
Sadly there are too many people who give up. When it gets too hard, we’re tempted to quit.
That’s because most of us have no point of reference for the failure part of the story. We see folks around us rise to the top and wonder why it’s not happening for us. Remember, we usually come in at the end of the story.
Do you honestly think J.K. Rowling came out of the womb holding the Harry Potter manuscript? Thankfully for her mom, she didn’t.
Was Harry Potter an instant success? No. Not even close. In fact the manuscript was submitted to twelve different publishing houses and each one of them rejected it. It wasn’t until a year later that Bloomsbury Publishing decided to publish it and then later Scholastic Corporation.
Writing a Children’s Book
I actually have a similar story to this, granted I am certainly no J.K. Rowling. In 2006, I wanted to write a children’s book.
I had no prior experience with it; I just knew this was something I wanted to do. Sounds impossible, right?
When I talked with my mother about it, she did what I expected she would do. She told me to go for it because, well, like she says, nothing is impossible. The impossible just takes a little longer. It’s the little longer part that most of us trip over.
The first order of business was to learn everything I could about the publishing industry. I bought books on printing, books on layout and design, books on marketing, books on illustration, books on books about books about publishing. If it existed, I either bought it or borrowed it.
Eventually I had everything I needed. I had the book written and illustrated, and it was ready for print. Now I just needed a printer, and believe it or not that was the hard part.
My first few attempts at securing a printer went horribly wrong. After dealing with a dozen or more companies, I was ready to give up. Some printers were well beyond my budget, others create such horrible samples that even if they printed it for me for free I would have passed.
After a few weeks of banging my head against the proverbial wall, and in some cases the real wall, I was at my wits end. I kept hearing that message in my head, “The impossible just takes a little longer. The impossible just takes a little longer. ”
A little longer? If I wait any longer I’m going to be a hundred years old.
At that point, I had two choices:
- Give up.
- Keep going!
I opted to keep going, partly because this was something I wanted and partly because my mom scares the heck out of me. I didn’t want to disappoint her by giving up too quickly, and I am happy to report that I didn’t give up.
After many frustrating situations, I finally found the perfect printer and I successfully launched my first children’s book (another shameless plug – Happy Birthday Puppy):
The feeling of accomplishment that comes along with doing something that seems impossible is incredible.
Some of the most challenging things in life can also provide the best reward, but that’s how life is. It continuously throws us challenges with seemingly impossible odds. The fortunate side effect is that we grow and learn along the way.