Leadership Development

Overcome Impossible

Frustrated by nothing changing? To bring shifts to your community, someone needs to see what others don't and risk what others won't. I dare you.

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I love space and space travel. You will find me making space connections a lot in these blogs. Pondering space enriches, extends, and elevates our perceptions of life on Earth. As I was writing this blog, I watched the launch of Starliner from Cape Canaveral with two astronauts going to the International Space Station. Over 67,000 people were watching via the same website I was on.[i] That was just one online option. Every launch is fighting to escape gravity’s tight grip to enter a realm that surrounds the Earth for research, exploration, and discovery.

As a tiny little speck in the vastness of the universe, there is everyday life on earth. Here we fight daily to escape the grip of realities that pull humanity down. Our days can make dreaming difficult. That’s why we love space travel. It teaches us to keep dreaming, trying to see better possibilities for ourselves and our neighbors. But that kind of seeing and dreaming is not easy. In fact, 1 to 4 percent of us who close our eyes to envision something see nothing. This inability to experience mental imagery is called aphantasia. But even those with aphantasia find ways to imagine.[ii] Let’s close the door on our excuses.

That universe we are in has edges because that is as far as we can see. We don’t know how far it goes. It is said that the edge of the observable universe is 46.5 billion lightyears away. One light year is 5.8 trillion miles, making the believed edge of the universe, as it is currently observable, 269,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 (septillion) miles away. Copernicus and Galileo would have loved to know what we know now and see what we can see now. But think about it. They helped get us here.

I understand this can seem all philosophical and metaphysical but it is also actionable. We often don’t find the actionable pathway from dreams, and visions because we are easily overcome by thoughts of the impossible. Why waste the time? It’s not a waste because it’s where we find answers and our communities matter.

For some people, when there is a question of possibility there are abundant reasons for all answers being impossible. How do naysayers impact you? I don’t mean people who have questions. Questions are helpful and important to creating the new. The naysayer seems to be unable to get beyond impossibilities. They say “Nay!” to every possibility. Do they bring you into their web of immovability or do you see and avoid the trap?

I see naysayers as a challenge. At my core, I am saying, “I will win them over!” My aim is not to win an argument. I desire to help them see that their questions matter, but that those questions are not the outer edge of what is possible. Questions help us create when the right atmosphere exists.

Part of what I want you to explore here is your inner world. What are the atmospheric conditions in your brain, heart, and gut? Stormy seas or a gently flowing river? Which of those describes your inner world as you serve in this space of community development and human services? Do you experience angst because the problems seem to never get solved; they only get worse? Please let me help you cultivate a new atmosphere for you. A new perspective for you can bring a world of hope, vision, and vitality to your community impacting work.

As you continue reading, note the ever-expanding possibilities as we move from unleased to undiscovered. Think of it as ideas moving like a horse from standing tied to a post, to roaming a corral, to frolicking in a fenced pasture, and eventually to running hard and free in open lands.

NOTE: This isn’t a blog about moral parameters and principles. It’s about abundant possibilities within the space of solution creation. I understand that morals and solutions are not fully separable ideas, but this isn’t an ethics blog. What if your heart and brain were freely and fearlessly engaging the problems you and your community face? Don’t be afraid of being challenged. It’s okay to have what matters to you tested. Testing proves how much it matters. But it also shows the leashing and limiting fears that keep you from engaging in community-transforming ideas.

So, do you want to overcome impossible? Will you be the one who sees what others don’t and risks what others won’t?

To be leashed is to be tied down and unable to get away from. Here, your thoughts are anchored to a space that is overly known. You have walked and run this loop so many times you have every nook and cranny memorized. It is a pretty worn territory with the only fresh and new being brought from outside. A team’s brain and heart can be bored and cynical from nothing changing.

Are you tied to a desk or an office? Is the only time you walk out of the building when you go home? What about your work has changed in the past eight to twelve months? Do you think about things changing and your community improving, or are you in survival mode where you have settled? Are you leashed to performing the same tasks daily with no sense of accomplishing good? Do you need to change jobs? There, I said it

It is doubtful that anyone, other than you, will seek changes to unleash you. What do you have the authority to change? Sometimes something as simple as changing your daily rhythms and routines can create enough shifts for light to shine through. That light can provide enough vision assistance for you to find other adjustments to foster. Who do you need to have an honest conversation with to share respectfully how you feel leashed or limited? Schedule the appointment, and go prepared with actions you desire to take. Your being unleashed may well be a catalyst for much more significant shifts in your organization.

You can finally be unleashed and find that you eventually run into a fence. Be okay with the new turf for a while. Enjoy the new-found freedom and learn in this new space. Help bring more vision and growth within this healthier atmosphere.

What are your perceived limitations? Invest 60 seconds now and jot some of them down. Are they assumed or real? Were they declared by someone or just accepted as “reality”? Have they been assessed? Are they helpful? In what way? Are they hurtful? In what way?

Sometimes limitation is an issue of caseload. I remember, years ago walking into a Department of Social Services office as a guardian ad litem and seeing the files stacked on desks. Nothing but survival mode seems possible in such a work situation. When you bump into the limitations of time and being human, it is hard to think about unlimited.

Has your team ever asked unlimited questions like, “If there were no boundaries, what would we pursue?” or “What would we do If we had the full freedom and capacity to do what we wanted?” The “impossible-minded” won’t let you ask these questions. Discussions that hypothetically remove boundaries, and foster full freedom and full capacity dreaming make no sense.

Naysayers miss the point. Knowing where you would go in unlimited circumstances sets you up to back-cast and work through the potential barriers. They can be helpful if they will let the dreamers dream until it’s time to talk details. Envisioning what can happen with unimpeded pathways can lead to seeing possibilities you never would have otherwise.

It’s possible to have unlimited vision and visibility of an idea and make surface approaches, but not have ventured into deeper and more extensive exploration.

When you explore the unexplored you will see what has never been seen. Maybe dreamed about, but not seen. A high level of willingness to go where you have never been to explore the possibilities that are there can bring a big shift to finding new ways forward.

Trailblazers are people who create pathways into new places so that others can follow. If you have ever been on a mountain trail where you see colored squares on trees, rocks, or handrails along the way, those are trail blazes to help guide you.[i] Someone went ahead of you and put those there, marking the path for many more to follow with confidence. Someone had to go first. Trailblazers go first.

Having been discussed isn’t fully explored. The first person who made it to the top of Mt. Everest certainly had many conversations about the trip and what it would be like. Preparations had to be made. He could stand at the bottom of the mountain with ideas of what was at the top but did not know until he walked there.

Some of our solar system’s planets have only had a spacecraft orbit or fly-by, not a spacecraft or probe landing to gather on-the-planet data. Earth is the only planet where humans have been for extensive exploration. Unexplored leaves much that is undiscovered. We need to keep looking if we desire the information necessary to help our neighbors and communities become strong and healthy. Don’t be afraid to test the edges of what is currently known about your area of expertise and work.

The known edge of the universe is probably not the edge of the universe. What we see is what has been discovered. We don’t know what we don’t know. Undiscovered does not mean undiscoverable. It only tells us that the undiscovered is beyond the strongest telescope, microscope, or the greatest mind up to this point. Not yet doesn’t mean never, which means possibility remains.

Back to an earlier team question: “What would we do If we had the full freedom and capacity to do what we wanted?” Teams that never ask this question leave many options undiscovered in their hearts and minds.

Dreaming conversations lead to the discovery of new ideas, new language, new approaches, new relationships, new resources, and new community impact. I’m not saying live your days in a daydream. But don’t you think you could dream more? What solutions do you and your team or collaborative community need to discover? Sometimes the discovery isn’t the individual elements of the solution, but the best combination of the elements. It could all be right in front of you, you just haven’t discovered the right mix.

Fear can keep us from discovering. Fear of the unknown is deeply real to some. If that is you, don’t settle, and don’t do it alone. Find a patient dreamer who will walk with you into some new spaces. Allow childlike wonder to begin to emerge. Start with being unleashed from fear and see what happens from there. Again, you might need some help with that. Who do you know that tends to be fearless? Invest some time with him or her. Find a counselor or coach. Discover yourself.

Give the discovery journey some time and opportunity. Don’t set it to the side saying, “We don’t have time for that.” We need to make time by stopping some things that are wasting time. Shed the leashes, take down the walls and fences, explore, and discover some new people, places, and options. 

Someone needs to see what others don’t and risk what others won’t. Will you blaze the trail? Will you build the launching pads and vehicles for the explorations to discover the answers that are there for your community? Will it be you?

Action Points

  • Who do you need to have an honest conversation with about how you feel leashed or limited? Schedule the appointment, and go prepared with the reasonable actions you desire.
  • What would you/we do If you/we had the full capacity to do what you/we wanted to?
  • Change the language from brainstorming to team dream sessions. Set a regular rhythm of team dream sessions at least every two months. Start investing in and building out those ideas.
  • Do you want to overcome impossible? Will you be the one who sees what others don’t and risks what others won’t?
  • If you are interested in helping to populate an online forum for conversations that foster this type of practical discussion, I invite you to join Collective Community Impact.
  • Need help? Reach out.

[i] https://www.americantrails.org/resources/faq-when-and-where-to-use-blazes-or-markers

[i] https://spaceflightnow.com/2024/06/05/live-coverage-nasa-boeing-and-ula-prepare-third-launch-attempt-of-the-starliner-crew-flight-test/


Do you desire to strengthen your CharityTracker or OasisInsight network to new levels of collaboration and impact? Reach out to Chuck today to schedule your conversation: chuck@simonsolutions.com

ED645C80-CA25-41C2-8B6E-A6E7FA346EC1_1_201_aDr. Chuck Coward serves as Community Impact Specialist for Simon Solutions, Inc. Chuck has invested over 35 years in fostering human and community development from a variety of places and roles, including as a pastor, non-profit Executive Director, Director of Development, businessman, consultant, university professor, The Struggle Coach, and the founder of Entrusted Foundation. Serving to make people and communities stronger is his great passion. Chuck is the proud husband to Anita, dad to four, and granddaddy to eight.

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