Is anything possible?
You'd probably like to say yes... but what if I asked you if you could be elected president? Or go to space?
Why is it so hard to believe that the really good things that happen to other people can actually happen to you, too?
We love to indulge our own capacity for disbelief.
We see people taking the trips that we want to take, getting the promotions we want and dating the people we admire -- and despite believing that "anything is possible" -- it's pretty easy to admit that... well... some things just seem IMPOSSIBLE.
Why is that?
Because we've been aggressively programmed to accept opposing ideas for our entire lives.
Good things come to those who wait?
On one side, we're taught to covet what successful people have. We're even taught to believe that if we work hard enough, any of these things can be ours, too.
But on the other hand... we're taught not to expect TOO much. We're told that good things come to those who wait -- and we haven't been waiting long enough.
We're told that everybody has to pay their "dues" in order to become successful.
And we're taught that life progresses on a predictable linear path, along which all of our goals can be met.
Very early on in our lives... maybe even as early as middle school, we start to shape our views about trajectory.
We develop our own "Spectrum of Possibility" through which many things happen inevitably, as long as we just don't die.
Sure, not EVERYTHING comes easily... but for the most part, there are certain life milestones we just EXPECT to achieve because they all fall around the line of "best fit" that our lives predictably follow.
... Graduating from college is easy. Everyone does that now.
... Buying a new house and getting married. Piece of cake, when the time is right.
... Get a promotion? Sure, you can do it. Just stick with it long enough.
Even though we occasionally struggle, all these things are well within our Spectrum of Possibility.
Some things, however, don't fall neatly within the Spectrum. They are outliers.
The outliers: Crazy dreams you keep secret.
These outliers are uncomfortable to talk about with others or even think about too much because they don't seem realistic or achievable -- even though we know other people have done them.
Every dream that we once had as a child is most likely an outlier now.
"One day, I'll become President!"
"I want to go to the moon!"
"When I grow up, I'm going to marry a prince!"
Those dreams are quickly quashed when we realized one depressing fact: There's simply no linear path to get there. And here's the kicker: These outliers are the things that we REALLY want out of life.
What if you had to start a million dollar business? Could you do it?
From where we're sitting, it doesn't seem like there's anything simple we can do to ensure that we'll start a business from scratch and successfully make $1,000,000.
Bridging the gap to impossible: Solving complex problems with simple actions.
At this point, many people would be ready to give up. "Maybe that's just not me."
Excuse me... but what does that ACTUALLY mean? It likely means you haven't spent a lot (or any...) time actively planning how to get from one place to another, so you lean back on luck.
Then, when luck falls through, your assumptions are validated.
"Yep... I knew it was impossible."
That's right, folks. Your brain is taking shortcuts. If we see a task in front of us without immediately seeing the clear, linear solution... our brain is quick to move it from the "possible" pile to the depths of impossibility.
But what if there was another way to look at these complex problems?...
Start here: Take your secret life goal out of hiding.
Pretend, for just a second, that you want to go to outer space. (Or, maybe you actually do. So just act normally.)
What steps would you have to take to get from where you are right now to orbiting around the planet?
Ninety-nine percent of people have already disqualified themselves with excuses like:
"I didn't go to space camp when I was a kid. I don't know anything about space."
"Only military officers/celebrities/aliens get to do that. I'd never be allowed."
As you can see, most of these excuses stem from childhood and missed opportunities. You figure that your trajectory is pretty set at this point, and space travel is not in your path.
But you're wrong. There's four steps to ANY life goal. Here's how you achieve even your craziest dream:
1. Positioning: Get in the right place.
If you want to make it to outer space, make sure you're in the places where other prospective space dwellers might hang out.
- It helps to start off in a aerospace or engineering-related major in college.
- Is Neil Armstrong giving a talk at a charity event? You better be there trying to meet him after the event.
- Adult space camp... yeah, that exists. You need to sign up.
None of these activities alone will actually result in you going to space. For this reason, you might even think they seem frivolous and stupid -- but they're absolutely crucial.
Because you need positioning to create good luck.
Action Step: List 10 places that YOUR people might be. Don't discount anything because it's too hard to get to. This isn't supposed to be easy.
2. Get Lucky: Combine the right place with the right time.
Good luck is never a matter of chance. Though it can often appear that way.
In this context, timing comes down to being in the right position OFTEN enough.
You know, funny things happen as you continually put yourself out there, over and over again.
At first, you'll get menial, seemingly unimportant wins. But those snowball into bigger wins as you keep playing the game until you get a big "break."
From the outside, that break will look like luck. But you know it was just the snowball paying off.
3. How to make someone say "yes."
I'm not going to lie. The number one word you'll hear most on your way to the top is "no."
"No, we can't help you."
"No, we don't want to buy from you."
"No... because I have no idea who you are."
If you're trying to achieve something great, you're going to get rejected. Repeatedly. That's a fact.
But here's something most "goal-setters" forget: It doesn't MATTER how many times the door gets slammed in your face.
It doesn't MATTER how many times someone tells you that you're not smart enough, good looking enough, successful enough, whatever enough.
All of the times you get knocked down, shut out or discouraged can be instantly eliminated with three simple letters.
"YES" is the most powerful word on the planet. More powerful than a thousand "no's" can ever be.
How do you go from constant rejection to getting your first "YES"?
The answer: consistency.
Ridiculous, obsessive consistency with your goals. Do something every day.
Even when you don't feel like it. (ESPECIALLY when you don't feel like it.)
Let your work, over time, become a mountain that people can't ignore. Then, eventually, you'll get an opportunity. It's not a matter of luck. It's a matter of probability. If you talk to 1,000 people, you'll eventually get one who's willing to listen to you.
It's your job to recognize that opportunity.
4. Baby Steps: Make small improvements over time.
You're in the right place. You make sure that you're there often.
Things are starting to happen for you.
Now it's up to YOU to steer the ship and take advantage of the new opportunities in front of you. To make incremental progress, you have to be BRAVE!
Let's say you've used positioning and good timing to get yourself to an event where Richard Branson is speaking.
You see him alone in the corner of the room after his presentation.
Do you have the courage to go up to him and say "hi"?
If so, could you parlay that into a small bit of progress by saying, "Hey, I've always wanted to get more involved in space travel. How can I work for Virgin Galactic?"
Chances are good he will give you a lead to a manager or HR person, then go on his way. Or maybe he'll actually start talking to you, learn more about your story and give you a real connect.
Either way, you've now incrementally improved your situation because you put yourself in the right place (positioning) enough times (luck) for you to create new opportunities for yourself.
You can see that your Spectrum of Possibility can actually grow "tendrils" that reach out in any direction toward your intended goal, as long as you put yourself in the right place enough times, and have the courage to make situations happen when they present themselves.
Make YOUR life goals fall in the Spectrum of Possibility.
It's up to you... so make a move. Life DOESN'T have to be linear.
You DON'T have to go through point "B" in order to go from "A" to "C." You can skip steps. You can go around roadblocks.
You can go off the map.
But you have to be willing to put yourself out there in the right place, enough times to actually activate some of the "luck" that's bound to happen.