Lisa Robbin Young

"That's impossible!"

I can't count the number of times I've heard that phrase in my life. It's usually preceded by "You can't do that!", or followed by "Why don't you try something else?"


I sometimes think that when God gave me the choice to be born, I told him to give me the absolute hardest path to success - just so I could prove to people it could be done.

Then again, I also used to dream of being a mermaid.

I have, however, always been a bit of an overachiever. I'm the kind of person that says "Oh yeah? WATCH me!" when someone says "you can't..." I've taken trips, been in programs, raised kids, and generally lived my life unconventionally.

It's only been recently that I've learned the art of quitting. I was always the person that flatly refused to give up. I worked a job where my paycheck bounced - twice -before I took the hint that I should probably move on. I've gotten better at seeing the signals that tell me it's time to move on. On the whole, though, I'm still a tenacious, relentless being. I don't quit just because something's hard.

"Impossible" and "really hard" are not the same thing.

In my years of experience, I've managed to see my way through a lot of "really hard" stuff. I experienced the joy of living on welfare, abuse, racism, and more - all before I graduated high school (with honors, thank you very much). I grew up in Flint, Michigan, the most dangerous city in America, for heaven's sake! I think that automatically earns me some kind of combat medal.

I left school and forged my own path. Then I got pregnant and did the single mom thing for a while. My 20's had their share of... well, me being in my 20's!

Then, I got married to a man who's had to deal with his own emotional baggage. I mothered my eldest through a lot of troubled times. My youngest was involved in his babysitter's conviction for child sexual misconduct. I built a company, closed it, and laid off my one employee. And that's just the last 10 years of my life!

Saying all this isn't about shock value. It's not even about bragging. Yeah, I've been through some tough stuff, but so have many other people I know and love.

This is really about staying power. Grit. Stick-to-it-iveness, and being willing to gut it out when things get really really HARD.

Because "impossible" isn't the same as "really hard."

Impossible, as originally defined, means "not able to occur, exist, or be done." If it's impossible, it's simply not possible.

But Napoleon Hill said "Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can be achieved." 

Now, good old Mr. Hill didn't say it would be easy. He just said it can be done. It's possible.

"Possible" can still be REALLY REALLY HARD!

It's possible to fly, to plumb the depths of the sea, use touch fasteners to "tie" shoes, and chat with friends in other countries in real time. If you wanted to do any of those things 200 years ago, it would have seemed impossible. But the truth is, it would have been really REALLY hard... especially if you tried to do it all by yourself.

But someone eventually developed materials that made submarines and airplanes possible, "moving pictures" a reality, and velcro a staple in my kid's shoe closet. All the raw materials existed 200 years ago, but they hadn't been put together yet. It took a series of chemists starting in the late  1700's and early 1800's to figure out the polymers that would eventually give us Velcro in the 1950's.

It takes a village, yo.

When I was 21, and pregnant (more…)