I am not a consumer of the word impossible and you shouldn’t be either. Bestselling author, speaker, and humanitarian Robin S Sharma once famously said “Impossible is just an opinion. Don’t Buy it.” Throughout our lives, we’ve heard people say the word over and over again. Sometimes, impossible was disguised in synonymous phrases. For example, a couple of my favorite ones are “you can’t do this” or “that’s not possible”. In my own journey, I’ve heard so many variations of the word that I’d be a happy man if the words were cookies and pizza instead. As a long-distance ultrarunner who just five years ago could only manage a quarter of a mile, this is why I believe that impossible is just an opinion and I don’t buy it.
The Definition of Impossible Proves It’s Possible
When you look up Impossible in the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the first definition you get is “incapable of being or of occurring.” So, how can something that is incapable of even being end up being an opinion? Just like in life, there’s more than meets the eye. Impossible has more than one definition and you don’t have to buy the first one. One line below the first meaning, you will see that the second meaning of impossible is “felt to be incapable of being done, attained, or fulfilled: insuperably difficult.” The key word here is felt. In addition to that, another important word here is difficult. Putting those two together gives us “felt difficult.” With this in mind, impossible isn’t a statement, it’s a feeling. In effect, that changes everything.
Action Triumphs Feeling
So now that we know that impossible is just an opinion based on feeling, what changes? Notably, it changes the fact that impossible is an end-all, be-all. It’s important to realize that there are some things that should not be done with regards to honor and good sense. I’m not here to change your mind on that. Five years ago, I ran a quarter of a mile and walked home, defeated. This would be the third time in 10 years I had attempted to take on the challenge of being able to run for 30 minutes nonstop. The first two times, I quit when things got difficult. Failure was enough to make me think I was stupid and doing things wrong. In other words, I let the feeling of the impossible stop me. The third time, I didn’t stop. Naturally, I failed. Still, I didn’t quit. In this case, I let my actions triumph over my feelings and kept moving forward, despite the odds.
We Keep Moving the Goal Post
After running my first 5 KM race in August of 2018, I set my sights on a half-marathon. Of course, the distance became my new impossible. Ultimately, it was a longer distance than I had ever done, so I felt scared. I also realized how difficult it would be. On the other hand, I also felt excited. In 2020, I set my sights on doing a 100-mile race. When I was trying to do my first 5 KM race, I remember watching a REI documentary called “How to Run a 100 Miles”. Although I was in awe, I scoffed. 5K was impossible at the time, so 100-miles was the great-grandfather of all impossible. In essence, our human desire to seek more for ourselves is also the same coin that continues to give the word impossible power. Naturally, we keep chasing the next “impossible” because it makes us feel that fear, nervousness, and excitement all over again. In April 2021, I finished my first 100-mile race, something I thought was the greatest impossible just 3 years prior. After all, impossible is a feeling, a difficult challenge, and a word in the dictionary. What impossible will never be is a fact. Impossible is an opinion and I don’t buy it. Neither should you.