The power of possibility thinking

AFTER Roger Bannister first broke the four-minute mile in 1954, 32 others did it after him in the same year and 300 did it in the next year. Why? People suddenly believed it was possible.

Remember Cliff Young? Back in 1983, the-then 61-year-old farmer turned up for the 600km Sydney to Mel-bourne marathon. The “prof-essionals” had a good laugh when they learned that he’d never run a marathon before. They knew it would take about five days to complete the race, by running 18 hours and sleeping six. Cliff didn’t know that’s how you are supposed to run the race. He just kept running while the others slept. The result? He won the race, cut one and a half days off the record time, and changed the way long distance marathons are run forever. He wasn’t hindered by self-limiting beliefs about what was and wasn’t possible.

Possibility thinking. And self-limiting beliefs. Two ends of the achievement spec-trum. Where we lie on the spectrum determines what we make of our lives. Where do you lie?

What do you currently believe is possible, and what isn’t? What beliefs do you have that are holding you back from achieving your potential?

Let’s get to the point here. You have one go at life. You spend a large proportion of that life working. What is possible for you to achieve in your lifetime? Specifically, what could you possibly achieve in your career?

Take Ched Towns. Until the age of 19, Ched lived a fairly normal life. Around this age, Ched noticed his eyesight was beginning to fade. Upon investigation, he learned that he had a degenerative disease that would render him totally blind within a few short years.

For the next eight years, he felt cheated. Life had ripped him off. Around the age of 28, he made a trip to the UK to try some radical surgery, which failed. However, at this point he made a decision about his attitude to life. To quote Ched: “I am addicted to life for the rewards it gives you for the effort you put in.”

From this point on, he threw himself into life. He represented Australia at the Seoul Olympics in Discus and Javelin. He competed in more than 200 triathlons and eight Iron Mans. He did the Kokoda Trail and cycled the Simpson Desert. He died last year, trying to be the first visual-impaired person to climb Mount Everest.

The interesting thing is that before Ched became blind, he didn’t really do much special with his life. It took losing something that he took for granted for him to live Carpe Diem.

Do we have to wait for this to happen to us before we grab life by the horns? Are we content to live life at 51 per cent capacity, just scraping through, allowing life to just “happen”?

Is that what life is all about?

The way Ched lived his life became an inspiration to millions of Australians and people around the world. Why do such people inspire us? I think its because these deeds cause us to tap into some fundamental, and all too often deeply buried instinct that all of us have inside – the knowing that we can all achieve phenomenal things during our lives.

Nelson Mandela said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” We all have the power to achieve great things.

How many people do you know that sit in the same job for years and complain that “there’s nothing better out there” or “I don’t know what else I could do”? And “I’d really love to...but it’s unrealistic”. If you listen for what’s behind those words you’ll find fear. Too hard. Too much to lose. What will the Joneses think?

Take some time out and try this exercise. Cast your mind forward to the day of your own funeral.

You’ve lived a long and successful life and you’ve achieved everything you’ve wanted to. People from all stages of your life are in attendance.

What do they say about you? What legacy have you left behind? What have you accomplished that has inspired others?

Write your answers down. Feeling excited? Great! That’s what you can make happen during your lifetime. Now, what are you going to do to make those ideas reality?

Don’t let what has been done get in the way of what can be done. Just because your line of work may have a traditional career path doesn’t mean you have to follow it.

Great things are achieved by those who visualise what they really want to achieve in their mind, then take per-sistent, unrelenting action towards the manifestation of their goals.

What could you possibly achieve in this life if you really put your mind to it?

Put a big goal out there. Make it happen. Go on. I dare you. The world needs more possibility thinkers.

n Digby Scott is the Principal Consultant of The Catalyst Group, a career and executive coaching consultancy. Contact him at

Add your comment

BNIQ sponsored byECU School of Business and Law


6th-Australian Institute of Management WA20,000
7th-Murdoch University16,584
8th-South Regional TAFE10,549
9th-Central Regional TAFE10,000
10th-The University of Notre Dame Australia6,708
47 tertiary education & training providers ranked by total number of students in WA

Number of Employees

BNiQ Disclaimer