Who Gets To Decide What’s Impossible?

Written by on October 12, 2017 in Becoming, Own It, Sense of Purpose


What if I hit an impossible place? What if there is really no way to succeed at what I’m attempting?

That quotation is from my last post where I shared thoughts on the power of perspective and a wonderful book, The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat The Small Stuff. 

The idea of hitting an impossible place really got me thinking. While it’s rational to assume that there will always be some things that are impossible to do, let me ask you this, who makes that decision?

Who Gets To Decide What’s Impossible?

I can tell you from personal experience that more often than not the seed is planted by other people. Maybe they genuinely want to save you from being hurt, or maybe they don’t want you to do something they’ve been too afraid to try.

And sadly, there are times when people will criticize you and your dreams for no other reason than it makes them feel better about themselves.

Regardless of the origin of the seed of doubt, if we let it, in time we will come to accept these limiting beliefs as our reality.

Of course, this is hogwash.

What I’d like to ask you to do right now is invest just a few minutes of your time to watch the following video of Nick Vujicic’s TEDx talk about hopelessness.

Nick is an Australian author, businessman, evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs.

I’ve read Nick’s books and seen him speak countless times, so I can promise that you don’t have to be feeling hopeless in order to be able to embrace Nick’s message, which ultimately, is about who gets to decide what is or is not possible in your life.



Over the years I’ve shared many stories about people who have redefined what is possible in life and here are just a few.

Cliff Meidl was working as a construction worker when his jackhammer punctured a power line and was hit with 30,000 volts of electricity. He wasn’t expected to live, but he did. They told him he would never walk again, but he competed in the 1996 Olympics and because of his courage and spirit was chosen to be the US flag bearer at the opening ceremonies.

At the age of 13 Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm and the loss of over 60% of her blood. To the amazement of everyone she not only survived, she went back to surfing and just over a year after the attack took she took 1st place in the Explorer Women’s division of 2005 NSSA National Championships. Bethany has since married and just recently announced she is pregnant with her second child.

After his first audition, Sidney Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?” Poitier did not quit. What he did do was go on to become an Academy Award-winning actor, film director, author, ambassador, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Marilyn DeAlba was 13 years old when her son was born. Despite the overwhelming odds against her, she managed to care for her son, who has cerebral palsy, finish high school, get a job and earn three scholarships that made it possible for her to go to college, at the age of 17 years old.

What if I hit an impossible place? What if there is really no way to succeed at what I’m attempting?
Then, you have to FIND a way.

So here’s my challenge to you.

The next time you question your value or your ability to accomplish a dream or goal, remind yourself that when it comes to your life the only one who can define impossible is YOU.

If you’d like to learn more about Nick’s philosophy on life I highly recommend his book Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life (affiliate link) at Amazon.

Related reading …
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

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12 Reader Comments

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  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post RoseMary, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

  2. I’ve seen Nick’s videos before and never tire of his message. It is a reminder, he is a reminder, to look beyond what we perceive is a limitation.
    I like his sentence, “…use my life as a miracle for someone else.”
    What I feel is a struggle, another person takes in stride and seeing that inspires me. Keep our eyes open!
    Rosemary Griffith recently posted…Snotnose 38 — a Childhood Trauma That Shaped MeMy Profile

  3. Beautifully said Jeannette! Nick is marvelous, isn’t he? There are so many ways to go with “impossible dreams.” I know I’ve had dreams where a detour has led me to something so much better than I ever could have imagined, but we can never discover these things unless we’re willing to discover what we’re really made of. Thanks for contributing to the conversation! 🙂

  4. Marquita — I watched the entire video. I had not heard of Nick Vujicic. What an inspiration. It appears he’s never been fitted for artificial limbs. Yet he married and had children and has become a world-famous motivational speaker. It makes me wonder what have I got to complain about. About who decides what’s impossible: it’s the individual and not anyone else.

    That said. I think it’s important to understand what’s not possible for ourselves and to to dig deep to discover what is possible. It may be something we never thought we could do. Sometimes you need to know when to let go of an impossible dream. But that’s OK as long as it’s your decision. It’s when we let go of the impossible that we are liberated to choose another path that will lead to fulfillment, as we define it for ourselves.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us Gaurav! 🙂

  6. I’m glad you found value in the post Joy, and you know what I call people like your friends? Everyday heroes and there are many of them around to inspire us. 🙂

  7. Gaurav Kumar

    Hi Marquita,

    I believe that there is only one person who can set your limit and that is you are. No one can force you to do anything until you accept what you want to do. Thanks for the video.
    Gaurav Kumar recently posted…The 3M Rule to Boost your Content Marketing CampaignMy Profile

  8. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita,
    I’ve heard Nick’s videos before and totally in awe of his achievements. Even on a mundane level I have friends who are combining full-time work with caring roles for young and older family members. What seems impossible for me, they just take in their stride.
    I too did a spell as a coach, but stopped because it was so dispiriting to see people come back time and again not even having tried to implement steps they had agreed to at the last meeting.
    Thanks for more inspiration from people who have done the seemingly impossible.
    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Leadership Training: Learn Communication SkillsMy Profile

  9. I’m glad you found value in the post Elise! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  10. Beautifully said Donna! I think anyone who has worked as a teacher, coach or consultant has experienced the kind of personality you referenced. I have no problem (now) admitting that played a key role in my decision to leave individual coaching behind because it can really drain you. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation! 🙂

  11. Elise Cohen Ho

    I 100% agree that only we can decide our limitations. We can push through barriers, real and imagined, if we give ourselves permission.
    Elise Cohen Ho recently posted…Money Saving Travel TipsMy Profile

  12. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,
    Inspirational people like Nick Vujicic are so amazing. Each time I listen to him talk, I say to myself “What the heck are my limitations?” He is like a hero to me.
    People like him and the others mentioned here are fine examples of what a human can overcome. Then there are others who are perfectly healthy and smart, but won’t budge an inch because of their limiting beliefs.
    We have to realize that our limitations were taught to us from the moment we hit this planet!
    As long as we have a passion to follow, anything is possible.
    Donna Merrill recently posted…3 Blogging Commitments Guaranteed To Boost Your BusinessMy Profile