Not so impossible

You will see a lot about Muhammad Ali in the coming days. The passing this week of arguably one of the greatest sporting legends of the last century will spawn a host of tributes, accolades, news reports, reflections, documentaries and obituaries. But for me, it wasn't so much Ali's sporting prowess that impressed. Champions come and go, and others quickly replace them. Nor was it his larger than life, motor-mouth personality. There are plenty of others who would be prepared to out-talk him.

No, it was the character of the man, and in particular, his keen insight into the human condition that impressed me the most. Muhammad Ali's greatest legacy will be his never-say-die attitude toward adversity. He was arrested and stripped of his boxing title because of his refusal to serve in the US army during the Vietnam War. He was against the war,  but he never stopped fighting. He earned back his reputation and his boxing title (several times). He stood up for what he valued and believed in, whatever the cost.

Everyone can learn from this. Sometimes what we value will cost us dearly. It takes energy and effort to achieve our visions, and nothing valuable is achieved easily. We should reflect on his quote below, so we can all see the potential in ourselves to be greater than we though we could ever be:

"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

Nothing is impossible if we have the will to succeed and spend time and energy making it happen. We can all do things we thought were impossible, if we change our perspectives. That snide comment from someone you once considered to be a friend. That time you were frustrated or disappointed and thought that everything was against you. Those who didn't believe in you when you knew you spoke the truth. The talking behind your back when others gossiped without knowing the facts. The injustice you experienced when you should have received a reward for the work you did. We have all experienced these set-backs. But it's how you respond to them that reveals your character. Getting up, dusting yourself off and carrying on means you refuse to accept defeat. It means you don't believe in impossible.

Impossible should not be allowed in the classroom. As teachers, we should all do something new that scares us every day. That's how we can stay at the top of our games. We owe that much to our students. How can we expect them to develop a back-bone if we aren't resilient ourselves?

So believe in the possible. Never stop fighting. Go on. It's a dare.

Photo by Ira Rosenberg on Wikimedia Commons

Creative Commons License
Not so impossible by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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