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Be Fearless: Make the Impossible Possible

08/19/2013 12:40 pm ET | Updated Oct 19, 2013
  • Jonathan Alpert Licensed psychotherapist, executive coach, columnist, and author of "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days"

In the early 1950s, many people believed that it was impossible for humans to run a mile in under four minutes. Runners had been trying to break the four-minute barrier since the late 1800s. The world's top coaches and most gifted athletes had been trying to go sub-4.0 for years. They were dedicated, and they'd tried all sorts of training plans.

Yet, it seemed, the four-minute barrier was beyond reach. People had tried to break it for so long that many were starting to believe it was impossible -- that the human body just could not go that fast. Then in 1954 Roger Bannister ran the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. A month and a half later, John Landy ran even faster. Then a year later three more runners broke the four-minute barrier. Today high school runners break the barrier routinely and Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco holds the record of the world's fastest mile at 3 minutes and 43.13 seconds.

Once Bannister's time proved to other runners that it really and truly was possible, they were able to make the impossible possible and run the distance in under four minutes, too.

Your beliefs are powerful. If you believe something is impossible, that belief will erode your confidence and turn that impossible belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a person with authority -- whether it's a doctor, a therapist or a teacher -- tells you that you "can't" do something, you will believe it, even if that person's prediction isn't accurate. And once you believe it, you will behave as if that prediction is true, by default making it come true. For instance, if I told a patient, "You are really screwed up. There's no hope for you," it could cause the patient to stop trying, even though there really is hope.

Similarly, positive beliefs are just as powerful. If you believe you can and will do something, you will find the means to make the impossible possible. For proof, look at our history: Imagine how the world would be if U.S. President John F. Kennedy believed that it was impossible to put a man on the moon. What if Martin Luther King Jr. had believed it was impossible to achieve civil rights in the United States or if Gandhi had believed it was impossible to overthrow the British occupation of India without violence. Could Barack Obama have become the first African-American president of the United States if he'd thought the quest was impossible? Highly unlikely.

Believing that something is possible is the first step towards fearlessly reaching goals. Fearlessness is a state of mind, not a genetic trait. You can acquire it and strengthen it. Start to build your courage now by reminding yourself of all of the amazing feats you've already accomplished in your life. Chances are, you have probably already made the impossible possible several times in your life. What have you already accomplished that you once thought could never be done? Write it down. Keep this list handy and read it whenever you are tempted to believe that you don't have what it takes to begin to make changes in your life.

For tips on how to make the impossible possible check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

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