Lately I’ve been thinking about possibility. We’re so used to the word that we take it for granted, but for me, possibility isn’t just a word; it’s a concept, a philosophy, a way of life—and it’s something I had to learn and that I still have to be mindful of in order to make sure that I put it into practice. Here’s what I mean.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines possibility as “the quality or condition of being possible,” and it defines possible as something “that can be; capable of existing.” Especially in difficult times like these, it’s important to approach the world with the attitude that what you want can be, that it is capable of existing.
As you read these words, maybe you said to yourself something like “Of course! I always believe what I want is possible!” Or maybe the opposite: “What does it matter if I believe it’s possible? I’m not going to get it.” Or “I’ve never really thought about whether I think things are possible or not.” Why I’m making a big deal about your thoughts regarding what’s possible?
Because when you approach life from an attitude of possibility, you open the door to new, uncharted territory, and that is the land of miracles. This is why understanding possibility is so vital.
I’m not saying that an attitude of possibility has some kind of secret mystical power to help you achieve your goals; I’m saying something much more concrete: that an attitude of possibility affects your behavior, creating strength and options to achieve your goals. Whether we realize it or not, until we consider possibility with mindful awareness—an intentional focus on the here and now, letting go of the judgments the voice in our head may be making about it—our views about what’s happening in the present and future are determined by our past experiences and our conscious and unconscious interpretations of them. To approach life with an attitude of possibility, we have to actually be in the present—with what is right here right now—and not color it with our past judgments and interpretations. We can reflect on past experiences mindfully to see what, if anything, we can learn from them, but if we want to live in possibility, we have to set goals based on the present.
Let me give you an example of this from my business.
The company I co-founded owns commercial real estate, primarily strip shopping centers. When the economic problems surfaced in 2008, the real estate industry was hard hit; spaces for stores and restaurants that used to be in high demand were now vacant, and rent for commercial space was in free fall as tenants struggled to keep their doors open.
Past-based thinking—projecting the present and future based on past experiences alone—said that everything would turn around so we should face the fear by maintaining rents at their current levels, not be taken advantage of by tenants seizing the fearful moment, and simply wait for the problem to blow over. It’s only now, years later, that we are in the early stage of recovery. If I’d allowed past-based thinking to control me, I would be in big trouble and we would have a lot of empty shopping centers facing foreclosure. Instead, we had to adapt by creating new business models—new possibilities. Most of all, we had to let go of the righteousness that goes with past-based thinking—the judgmental attitude that because it happened before, it’s going to happen again, and that’s the way it should be!
I want to emphasize that possibility happens only in the present. In other words, if you let yourself be controlled by past-based thinking, you’re not in the land of the present or the terrain of possibility. You can tell yourself that because something happened before, it “should” or it “will” happen again and tell yourself that that’s coming from possibility, but when you’re not in the present, you’re not in the world of possibility; you’re in the world of what “should be,” and you may be ignoring what’s happening in the present altogether. The reason that my company was able to create new business models—new possibilities—was because we did let go of our ideas of what “should be.”
“The way it should be” is an enemy of possibility. When you think about how something “should be,” it’s a sign that your thinking is past based, filled with judgments and interpretations, and that you’re not mindfully being in the present. When you’re mindful and, therefore, in the present, you let go of past-based judgments and interpretations, whether positive or negative. This allows you to respond with mindful choices about how you’re going to act to achieve what you want, based on what is actually happening in the present, with an attitude of possibility! This is what makes your goals something “that can be,” something that is “capable of existing”!
In the next few weeks, I’ll share with you thoughts about how acting from an attitude of possibility affects other aspects of our lives, including our relationships.
- 9 Jul, 2013
- Posted by Steve Fogel
- 0 Comments