Stop Sign: Impossible Beliefs

If this is the sector that was supposed to change the world, why has the world not changed? This series is all about the stumbling blocks we have found – Stop Signs along the road to creating an amazing future for our communities and our world. (To see other Stop Signs in this series, just click here.)

This week’s Stop Sign may be one of the most critical of all – the one that might stop us even before we get to all the other stop signs and roadblocks and speed bumps along the road to creating a better future. This one is the deal-killer if we want to build a better world.

STOP Sign: Our Beliefs About What is Possible
As I have written in other arenas (and I am writing in the book that will be released this fall), we get what we aim for, what we focus on. The Community Benefit Sector* has not focused on changing the world. We have not focused on creating amazing places to live. We have focused on narrow problem-solving.

In conversations around the globe, we have come to see one of the biggest reasons we have not aimed at creating amazing places to live.

We do not believe it is possible.

The voices of pessimism in this sector claim to speak for “reason” and “reality.” The truth is they speak merely out of the belief that creating massive, significant, long term change is not possible. It is a belief that says, “There has always been war, therefore there will always be war. There has always been poverty, therefore there will always be poverty. There has always been greed, therefore there will always be greed.”

It may be disguised as the “voice of reason.” But it is merely a belief.

We have spent the past 10+ years developing tools to help aim the Community Benefit Sector* at creating a better future for our world – planning and governance and resource development tools. But none of that means anything if we do not first get rid of the belief that creating an amazing future is impossible.

So this week’s Stop Sign is all about the Impossible Belief – the belief that it is impossible to create a peaceful, equitable, joyful world.

Here is what we know: Unless something is verifiably impossible, it is possible. It may be unlikely, but it is not impossible. Period.

Simply because we believed a human could not go the moon didn’t mean it was impossible. It may have been unlikely, but it was clearly not impossible.

And if it holds true for watching a human being shoot golf balls on the moon, the same holds true for the work of this incredible sector.

Simply because we believe we will never have a truly equitable society doesn’t mean it is impossible. It may or may not be unlikely, but it is not impossible.

Simply because we believe we will never live in a peaceful world doesn’t mean it is impossible. It may or may not be unlikely, but it is not impossible.

If this sector is going to create the future of our communities and our planet, we need to distinguish between what is truly impossible and what is merely unlikely. Because if it is not verifiably impossible, it is possible. That’s not a belief – it is a fact.

And here is one more fact:

We are creating the future, every day, whether we do so consciously or not.

Because it is possible, our likelihood of bringing about the future we want for our world is contingent on how consciously and how diligently we work at creating that future. But more than anything, it is contingent on how firmly we know – not believe, but know – that creating a better future for our communities is possible, simply because it is not impossible.

So right now, while you are sitting there at your computer – ask yourself:
What future am I creating right now? For whom?

If you can see it, you can start walking towards it. Right now. What are you waiting for?

* Curious about our use of the term “Community Benefit Sector?” Click here to learn more.

4 Responses to Stop Sign: Impossible Beliefs

  1. Hildy,

    Enjoyed your post today. I’m sure I’ve been (am?) among the number who have let my beliefs hold me back. Heck, we’ve ALL done that at some time or another.

    I’ve been reading a lot of interesting books lately, and there’s one, “You’ve Got To Read This Book,” which shares how certain books have inspired the reader and – in many cases – changed lives. One of the underlying themes of this tome is fundamentally the same as what you said in today’s blog post. For it to be so, we must first believe it to be so.

    I tend to downplay the metaphysical, and look at things pretty pragmatically, but no matter how you slice it, this is a fairly basic concept that we all seem to forget about regularly. It’s kind of along the lines of the saying “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” The power of the mind, attitude, positive thinking, whatever you want to label it, is an amazing thing.

    The more we direct our conscious mental energy in a certain way, the more likely something will happen as a result. This isn’t rocket science or some other-worldly phenomenon as much as it’s forgetting to focus on what we truly want to achieve.

    Okay, I’m officially stepping off the soapbox now. Kudos to you and the blog, which always offers something of value, or insight, or just strange videos .



  2. Michael:
    Here’s to insight and strange videos! 🙂
    Thanks for the lead on the book – my shopping cart at Amazon hasn’t had something added in at least a week!

    As for metaphysical vs. practical, there are some truths that are just truths, as you note. We in modern society have relegated the “spiritual” to the land of impractical, when really all the various aspects of inquiry – social, political, spiritual, scientific – they all answer the same questions. Why are we here? What is truth? How did we get here? How can we best live together? Isn’t it silly that such questions are seen as impractical, when really what else is there?

    We work in the sector that has the chance to change the world – truly the epitome of the most human of our human potential. There was nothing impractical about putting someone on the moon or eliminating apartheid – it was factually possible, and it happened. The rest is in the details, yes, but the details start with agreeing it’s not “utopian” but instead possible and practically accomplishable.

    As for books – is there a particular book, besides THAT book, that has been a life changer for you? (Or a particular strange video you might share with me for a Monday Rock Out? And that offer goes to everyone – send me a note at the “Contact Hildy” button if you find something whimsical, silly, and most of all with a good beat!)


  3. Hey Hildy,

    Just a few thoughts…

    First of all thank-you for being who you are, and all that you are creating through the context of your business. This article, as a launching point for this kind of Blog, is a testament to your insight and your vision.

    I fully appreciate the sentiments in this article. You have shed light on not just a cornerstone, but a foundational issue that permeates our way of “being” across this industry/sector.

    There is no doubt that releasing a belief that isn’t serving us, particularly one of this magnitude, is a/the first step…

    Where I have to admit that I struggle though, personally and professionally, is with the words we continue to use to raise our awareness toward “getting there”.

    For example, words like “getting rid of” a belief that isn’t serving us, or “how diligently we work at” creating a now that lives into the future…

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much an advocate about identifying what isn’t working, as I am about cultivating a good strong focused work-ethic.

    But even by virtue of using these words, they in themselves identify and perpetuate a scarcity belief that is in operation, which feeds on if not assists, the other belief.

    So to continue the theme, and just to play devil’s advocate for a moment…

    Why do we “have to get rid of” a belief that isn’t serving us?? Why can’t we just acknowledge it as something that just “is” vs. judging it, putting a negative value on it, and owning it? And then… how about just “releasing” it?

    And then instead of “having to work hard” at creating a/the future that we want, “allowing” something new to “flow” in, and take it’s place?

    It may seem like I’m being nit-picky over wording, but we as humans are a product of our language and our listening. Even the thought that I could be “nit-picky” about this, in and of itself, also reveals yet another belief… do you see what I mean? (wink!)

    I guess where I’m going with all of this, is that until we are more gentle and graceful with ourselves, and how we have “been” in this industry, the intention and act of releasing and creating might in itself be seen as “impossible” just by virtue of the words we use to even raise our awareness about it.

    You no doubt have seen a child who continues to hang on to a treasured toy, no matter how much he/she has outgrown it, how dirty it is, or how unhealthy hanging on to it has become to where they are now.

    If you try to take that toy away by force, or by an unpleasant process, you might as well be trying with a crowbar. Until… that child sees the pony, and promptly drops the toy.

    Our subconscious operates the same way. It’s done what it’s always done because that’s what we’ve asked it to do all these years. To ask it to do something different, to run a different neural pattern/pathway, runs counter to our intuition no matter how much we consciously rationalize the reasons why.

    The shift only comes with ease when you work WITH how your mind works, and give yourself what you really want instead. Mike hit it on the head when he touched on “what do we really want?”

    I would venture to say, that the process is a “both/and” not an “either/or”. Absolutely, let’s release what isn’t serving us, but until we identify something more appealing, and a process that can be way less hard and way more fun… well… you know where that goes.

    Which is why I am so excited about the work you are doing.

    I for one, am looking forward to the journey of learning from you, and working with you, because I believe the pony IS possible!

    In Spirit,
    Tracey Sisson
    Licensed Belief Re-patterningTM Practitioner
    Calgary, AB Canada

  4. Tracey:
    Wow – thank you for this incredibly thoughtful post. Please, keep adjusting our language, keep pushing us to where we have the potential to be. I will be taking your comments to heart.

    In another post on this blog, I had written about the difficulty of walking our talk, when what we are trying to do is inspire and encourage, and all that comes out is “Why can’t you just do it!”

    So thank you for encouraging and inspiring me – and please keep doing so!