A Coaching Power Tool By Florence Schelling, High-Performance and Development Coach, SWITZERLAND
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m Possible”. – Audrey Hepburn
As I was preparing to write this power tool, several ideas popped into my mind to write about, but this very specific one “possible vs. impossible” topic resonated the most with me. It is a topic that I was and still is faced with a lot in my life.
Growing up, I wanted to join my brother and start playing ice hockey. As a girl, almost 30 years ago, that was not what women would do. As I told my parents, that I wanted to join the club, they told me it was impossible. There’s no girls team. My brothers’ coaches would even tell me that it’s impossible, I was a girl and I was too small to fit into hockey equipment.
None of this got to me, I persisted until I was able to start on an all-boys team when I was 4 years old. I made it possible.
A couple of years later, I was watching men’s hockey at the Olympic Games on TV and I told my family that one day I will be going to the Olympics. I was told again that this was impossible, as women’s hockey is not at the Olympics.
For me, this too was possible. I figured if the women are not at the Olympics but the men are, then I will just compete with the men. Thanks to many other people who believed in possibilities, women’s hockey became an Olympic sport and I was able to participate and represent my home country at the Olympic Games multiple times.
Being told over and over again that things are impossible will eventually get to you. One day you start believing in what people tell you and you will not even see the possibilities lying right ahead of you because clouds of impossibilities linger in your head.
The concept of this power tool creates awareness and an understanding of the clear sky that is always there and how you can control the clouds that get in the way of that clear sky. The sky’s the limit, not the clouds.
The Difference Between Possible and Impossible
How many times have you said “This is impossible, I can’t do it.”, or heard somebody else say these same words? Probably quite often, as saying something is impossible is oftentimes easier than putting the work into making something possible. Sometimes, we are avoiding what we see as obstacles that are put in our way. We find excuses as to why this is impossible instead of seeing the possibility it brings; not enough resources, not enough time, not enough knowledge, not enough energy, not enough discipline, not enough this and that. The list is infinite. With that being said, our mindset sometimes convinces us that something is impossible before we even make an initial attempt.
- Why do we find excuses to reason that something is impossible?
- Where will this get us?
- What is the goal of this impossible mindset?
- What is the long-term implication of saying it’s impossible to do certain things?
One way to surely ensure failure is having the belief that you cannot succeed before you even give it a try. When we mistakenly believe that we lack the talent or resources to achieve our aspirations, it almost paralyzes the progress that we need to make. Having the mindset of impossibility is what eliminates potential possibilities. By repeatedly focusing on why something cannot be done, you will look for all sorts of evidence to support that belief. That belief might stem from people telling you that you can’t do things, or also based on previous mistakes that you made.
There are no mistakes, only lessons. – Robin Sharma
It is important to note that you will make mistakes. However, these mistakes will lead to lessons which then eventually lead to success. But, you need to take an initial step in the first place. Without that first step, you do not even have the chance to climb any ladder.
Impossible is a label. It is a label that stops you from seeking solutions.
A counter-momentum is needed to get out of this negative mindset. To focus on the possibilities that life brings, you need to be willing to fail. Understanding the failure and taking every possible learning from it, you will be faced with a greater chance of success in the future. Instead of labeling something as impossible and finding excuses on why this is impossible, you need to seek solutions. To seek those solutions, you need to need to think creatively and find as many ideas as possible.
If you move away from seeing and listening to words like impossible and believing that you are greater than this, you have a greater chance of success. You can achieve anything you set your mind to, you only must want it. Stop using dead-end or stop words; say impossible and it is over, it is done.
Words are powerful, positively but unfortunately also negatively powerful. Words however are not carved in stone; they are not final. If you do not like a word, change it! Do not like a thought, change it! You fail, try again!
Possible vs. Impossible: Limiting Belief to Empowering Belief
Failure, no matter how big or small, arms the client with real change, new lessons, and new possibilities. Looking to become more experienced, failing offers lessons that the client may have never learned any other way.
Negative thoughts or words should never stop anyone from trying. Thousands of thoughts go through someone’s mind every day, so you might as well have thousands of new ideas every day. How do you know if you fail or not? If you wish for something, try it, if you fail at it, try again. Often, you only think that you cannot do something when in many cases you actually can.
This power tool is about reframing perspective from a limiting belief of impossibility to one of possibility and empowerment. Coaches at this point could use some of the below suggestions of questions to support the client in the reframing of their mindset:
- What makes you think that this is not possible for you?
- What would the situation look like if it was possible?
- What support do you need to take the first step?
- What would your life of unlimited possibilities look like?
- What would you do if failing was not an option?
- What needs to change so that you can say yes to the possibilities?
Do Not Underestimate the Power of Words
At all times, check the thoughts you think and the words you use when talking. Watch out for dead-end words like impossible and can’t and change them to positive and more empowered words such as I will. Being aware of the used words or thoughts makes you notice how many other words can trick you into finding excuses rather than solutions. Dare to fail to succeed and do not underestimate the power of words.
Whether you think you will succeed or not, you are right. – Henry Ford