One of the most enjoyable experiences I have as a coach is to watch my clients suddenly realize that their “impossible dream” for their business, relationship or life is not only possible but actually within their grasp.
The reason (I believe) that people struggle with this is that they have no practice at creating the impossible. That is, they have spent so many years chasing what they think is “realistic” – generally speaking whatever they have accomplished in the past plus about 10% more – that when they look at something they want that seems impossible they don’t even know where to begin.
The trick is you don’t have to know where to begin – you just have to declare yourself to be “in the game” and you’ll come to realize that things have already begun.
Here are some guidelines for creating the impossible in your own life:
1. Choose something you don’t really believe CAN happen, but you would LOVE it if it did.
I recounted one of my favorite examples of this in You Can Have What You Want:
A client of mine was visiting Los Angeles from London. Rebecca is beautiful, intelligent, and strong, but she had spent most of her life pretending she wasn’t so she wouldn’t upset anyone.
During one of our sessions, I shared with her what I consider to be the golden rule of goal-getting:
It’s easier to create what you really want
than what you think you can get.
Her response was to laugh in my face. “If that were true,” she said, “I’d be going out with a sexy movie star this evening instead of back to my hotel room alone.”
Although she was joking, I could feel the energy in the room lighten up as she confessed to an authentic if unlikely desire. Here’s what happened…
When she got back to her hotel, she decided to lay out by the pool. Suddenly, she overheard two people talking excitedly on some nearby sun loungers. “Isn’t that… oh my God, I think it is!”
She looked up and sure enough, a sexy movie star (in her humble opinion) was walking toward the pool, looking for somewhere to sit. And there just happened to be an available lounger right next to her. While I have no idea what happened next, she phoned me the next day sounding as though she was awakening from a wonderful dream.
“It really happened,” she said excitedly. “Just imagine what it would be like if I let myself do this with the rest of my life!”
Notice that Rebecca didn’t believe it was possible, and she certainly didn’t believe in herself – she just thought it sounded like a game worth playing, regardless of what actually happened.
She created the game through speaking an authentic desire that had previously seemed too silly/unlikely/impossible to even consider. And simply by speaking it aloud, something shifted inside her that made the “impossible” possible.
2. Set a bold, “impossible” target with a challenging time frame.
When I first began working with Steve Chandler a few years back, he challenged me to create an impossible game around money. With his coaching support, I set up a 90 day game where “winning” was defined as earning more than I had earned in the previous 12 months.
What was interesting to me was just how hard it was for me to even write my “impossible” goal down, let alone speak it into being. It was as if setting a goal and failing to achieve it was the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. What freed me up was when I took my attention off “winning” and put it onto what I was going to do to play the game.
For example, the goal in any sporting competition is to win. But if you put all of your attention on winning, you will almost certainly lose. A successful golfer will put their attention on making solid contact, or feeling the moment where their club head strikes the ball. A great soccer player will have their attention on where they need to be in relation to the ball and the other players, and as Wayne Gretzky once said, a great hockey player will “skate to where the puck is going to be”. The more these athletes allow themselves to get absorbed in the playing, the better they play and the more likely it becomes that they will win.
Similarly, if you create an impossible game around money, you put your moment by moment attention on serving others. If your game is around weight loss, you take your attention off the scales and put it onto things like exercise, emotional management and learning to listen to your body’s full signal. If your game is around your writing, you put your attention on getting words out of your head and down onto paper.
The point is that you get to make up the rules – and what constitutes winning and losing is only one small part of the game.
3. Know that you will probably lose – and play to win!
Each time I pointed out to Steve that I didn’t think I could possibly win my self-proclaimed money game, he would just say “that’s OK – if you couldn’t lose, it wouldn’t be much of a game.” I found that thought oddly comforting, but it wasn’t until I read The Last Word on Power by Tracy Goss that I began to understand why.
Here’s how she puts it:
Leadership always includes knowledge of the possibility of failure. In [an impossible] game, that produces a remarkable degree of confidence. If you operate with an acceptance of failure, you will remain confident no matter what happens during the course of the game.
You still play “to win”, of course, as without that, there would be no game at all. And there is always a scoreboard – you kept your bold promise [achieved your goal] or you didn’t. You check the scoreboard when the whistle blows… but the game never ends.
You calculate the results and debrief on how you “played”. What’s important, because you said so, is that you move the possibility forward. That allows you to immerse yourself in the challenge and pleasure of your game, regardless of the impediments you encounter or the circumstances that you must include. They are all opportunities for building the muscles of making the impossible happen.
As it happens, I failed at the money game I created with Steve – I didn’t reach my target until half way through the 4th month. But along the way, I realized that I loved being focused on service and of course, my clients loved it as well. The more I helped them to achieve their impossible dreams, the more my own impossible dreams began to come true.
So here’s my question for you today:
What would you love to create in your life or in the world, even if you knew you would probably fail?
Have fun, learn heaps, and make the impossible happen!