Impossible is a naughty word

This is one of those minor rant posts I’m using to get something off my chest. When someone says something is “impossible” it immediately raises the hair on the back of my neck. Not because I’m a Pollyanna that things anything is possible with enough sunshine and rainbows, but that in most cases when working the word impossible is a way of avoiding answering the question “Well, what can we do?”

I’m not naive enough to think that everything can be done. There are many, many things that lie outside the scope, ability, budget, where-with-all, and willpower of people to be accomplished. When that term is used to avoid having the discussion around what the alternatives are and what could be accomplished with some revisions, resources, and level setting it is detrimental not only to the work at hand but also to the well being of the persons involved.

If you know something can’t be done, especially when it has been promised (by yourself or others), it’s important to review what can be done to get you as close to what had been committed. Once you have that information craft your communication around what was expected, what can be delivered, the difference between the two, and any negative and positive impacts.

The maintenance of a positive mindset, especially when it comes to dealing with clients is a key way of establishing and maintaining “good-will capital” with that client. When you need to spend that capital to mitigate issues that arise to keep projects and initiatives moving forward it is far easier to do from a positive position than a negative one.

So the next time you’re ready to unleash “That’s impossible” in a conversation or an email, ask yourself this question: Have I looked at all the options and what can I do to get as close as you can to turning the impossible into the possible.

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