It Can’t Be Done

These might be old stories, but they are all worth repeating because they speak to a common theme.

(For added enjoyment, follow the hyperlinks embedded in this post.)

***

The year was 1954.  In athletics there was a sense that a human could not physically run faster than a four minute mile.  “It’s impossible,” many said.  Athlete after athlete trained and tried – and all fell short.  The four minute mile seemed to be an impassible barrier.

And then, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister did it.  Bannister ran a sub-four minute mile!  He did something no human being had ever done before.  The impossible had occurred – like catching lightning in a bottle.  Many thought that Bannister’s feat was fluke, a one-in-a-million occurrence.

Six weeks later, an Australian, John Landy, bested Roger Bannister’s time.

Then, in August 1954, Roger Bannister raced against John Landy.  In that race, they both broke the four minute mile.

An accomplishment that many experts, scientists, doctors, physiologists, coaches, and others asserted was impossible, proved to be, in fact, absolutely possible.  And once Roger Bannister proved this fact, others also started running a mile in under four minutes.

Today, the mile record is 3:43:13.

In short, I don’t believe the mantra, “It can’t be done.”

***

In 1920, the idea of setting a rocket off into space was the stuff of science fiction.  It was as close to impossible as anything a person could imagine.  In fact, The New York Times ran an editorial that claimed that Professor Robert Goddard had no understanding of physics when he suggested that rockets might be able to fly to the moon.  The Times opined that Goddard, “Does not know the relation of action to re-action…he seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”  Tough words.  They were, of course, wrong.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy promised that America would land a man on the moon, and return him home safely, before the end of the 1960’s. There were many that considered this an unrealistic dream.

We know what happened.  On July 20, 1969, humankind landed and set foot on the moon.

What was impossible became possible.

I don’t believe in the mantra, “It can’t be done.”

***

Of course, in 1962, there were producers at Decca Records who rejected four boys who called themselves The Beatles because, “Guitar groups are on their way out.”

These producers didn’t see the potential in those lads from Liverpool.

When it came to music, those producers thought The Beatles couldn’t play.

***

There are always people saying, “It can’t be done.”

There are always people saying “You can’t do it.”

Yes it can and yes you can.

Almost anything can be done.

***

(Here’s a story you probably don’t know…)

Harpo Marx, who as a kid looked for any odd job to make ends meet, was once offered a job playing piano at a piano bar in New York City because the owner fired the previous player who played too loudly.

The piano player who was fired was a kid named… George Gershwin.

The next day, the owner fired Harpo.

Imagine being that guy.  He fired George Gershwin and Harpo Marx in less than 48 hours.

He thought they “couldn’t.”

***

Too often we live in the world of the couldn’t and of the can’t.  It’s easier that way.  I hear people saying those words all too often.

“I can’t do that.”

What’s worse is when we hear those words from children.

***

Here is the only “can’t” when it comes to children and their goals and hopes and dreams:

We can’t allow children to say “I can’t.”

***

In education, as we continue to look at our students, and their progress, and their work… we must keep this simple fact in mind. I can be done.

Part of the job of being an educator to help children set high goals.  We need to push kids and applaud their efforts.  We must always encourage them.  We can never let them place limits of themselves.

Along the way to success, there will be setbacks.  There will be failures.  Failure is a huge part of success.  They key to failure is to get up, figure out what went wrong, and to try again.

The people who say “Can’t,” are ones that let their failures define them.

People will always say, “They can’t do it.”

I am here to say, they can.

***

With determination, hard work, focus, and diligence, we can all do almost anything.

If there is a skill you wish to learn, the key is to start working on that skill.

Want to be an author?  Start writing.

Want to be a musician? Start playing.

Want to run a marathon? Start running.

Want to be a chef? Start cooking.  (If you’re making pizza, please let me know.)

Want to give back?  Start volunteering.

We should not be fearful of setting goals.  We should not be afraid of raising the bar.  Raise it.  Go for it.

Push yourself to do something you never thought possible.

Tell yourself, “Yes I Can!”

Because you can.

Believe in yourself and you will achieve things you never thought possible.

Go For It!

(Please, let me know how you do!)

@DrPaulRSem

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