An Exercise in the Art of Possibility Thinking
The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do. ~Henry Moore
To achieve success in any area of your life one of the most important things you can do is to stop focusing on your limitations and open your mind to the possibilities.
Rather than thinking about how something can’t be done or why it won’t happen, instead focus on how it could be done and why it could happen.
As cliché as it sounds, possibility thinking really is about thinking out of the box – beyond the barriers of limitations – real or perceived.
What is the difference between positive thinking and possibility thinking?
Positive Thinking is the mindset and ability to avoid negativism, to rise above negativity.
Possibility Thinking is the ACTION you take. Possibility thinkers will say “OK what are all the things I CAN do to make this happen.
So possibility thinking really is about not giving up mentally; continuing to believe that there are opportunities and taking action to find them.
To become a possibility thinker, stop saying IF and start focusing on HOW
What happens when you allow yourself to think about possibilities is you begin to think of all the ways you could achieve something greater in your life. During this process allow your creative mind to go wild – there are no bad or unrealistic ideas! Some of these ways may work, many probably won’t, but the important thing is at least now you’re thinking it is possible and you’re no longer stuck. You aren’t giving up. You are thinking in a way that will create energy and momentum!
The mind is powerful – it will seek to prove whatever we think or say. That’s how the self-fulfilling prophecy comes about. We say ‘I can’t’ and we end up doing nothing and hey presto, we’ve proved ourselves right – we couldn’t do it! However, if we get into the habit of saying “how CAN I do this?” our wonderful mind does all it can to help us come up with an idea that will work!
Only by taking the time to indulge in a little possibility thinking can you determine if your desire to achieve something grand is something you really want, the result of short term frustration or just possibly a hint to a life calling you’d never before considered.
An Exercise in Possibility Thinking
I appreciate that your initial thought about this example may be that it’s too big to be relevant to most of us, but that is precisely the point … far too often we fall into all or nothing thinking, when with the right mindset even the most outlandish dream can turn into something real and tangible. So let’s just give this a try and see where it takes us.
Your Desire: Become President of the United States and ‘fix’ our country’s problems.
Reality Check: You’re 40+ with no political experience and no money to finance a campaign and no experience with fundraising.
The first thing you need to get really honest with yourself about whether this is an actual desire, or simply a manifestation of your frustration with the news and current administration. If it’s the latter, find something more productive to do with your time and energy; educate yourself about the issues, actively campaign for your candidate(s) and for heaven sake vote in the next election!
Possibility Thinking: So let’s say you decide you’re serious about getting into politics and making a difference, so where to begin? Consider that real change actually begins on the grassroots level in our communities.
The easiest way to begin getting involved is to apply to serve on one of your county’s boards or commissions. There are normally a couple of dozen boards and commissions, for example; affirmative action, animal control, water supply, children and youth, culture and the arts, status of women, etc. Depending on where you live, it’s also likely there will be special interest commissions. For example I live in Hawaii and one of our unique challenges has to do with caring for ancient burial sites which have a way of turning up with every new construction project. Our unofficial name for this group is the “bones commission.”
From boards and commissions a run for county council is a natural next step. Once on the county council you’ll have the opportunity to work on policy making committees and you could work toward serving as council chair, and then get more involved in your political party of choice. If you discover you’ve found your passion and true calling, parlay your experience into a run for the state house or senate!
You see how this works?
Possibility thinking has an energy all its own and can also be a lot of fun, as you explore various ideas – maybe even wacky ones – that might just work for you. So the next time you hear yourself say ‘I can’t', why not change it to ‘how could I?’
Think about it – how might opening your mind to possibilities change things for you?
The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good. ~Brian Tracy
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