The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 31, 2011.
“Impossible” songs inspire impossible achievements

“To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go…”

Many of you immediately recognized – and may already be humming – the opening lines of “The Impossible Dream,” from Man of La Mancha. It’s one of my favorite songs, from one of my favorite musicals.

A member of my Toastmasters club referenced the song in a speech she gave last week, and I was singing and smiling for the rest of the day. The words also got me thinking of another “impossible” song, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Part of that song goes, “But the world is full of zanies and fools, who don’t believe in sensible rules, and won’t believe what sensible people say. And because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening everyday.”

I don’t agree that the categories are mutually exclusive. But if I were forced to put myself in one group or the other, I would definitely be in with the daft and dewy-eyed dopes. It’s long been my belief and my mantra that nothing is impossible, and you should ignore anyone who tells you otherwise.

Here’s the thing, though. Achieving the impossible – or what is considered impossible until somebody does it – requires much more than simply dreaming about it. It doesn’t help to believe in something or to dream of the possibilities if that’s all you’re going to do. To bring it about, to make it happen, requires work – lots of it! It requires discipline and determination. It requires knowledge and experience. And it requires a willingness to explore unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, to make and learn from costly and time-consuming mistakes, and to stay true to your vision even when everyone else is looking in another direction.

Many people, especially those who would describe themselves as dreamers – which I like much better than “daft and dewy-eyed dopes” – get so caught up in the possibilities and in the excitement of their vision that they lose sight of what it will take to get there. The strategy, the steps, and the order in which things need to be done aren’t always as clear or as easy to focus on as is the big picture. And trying to go directly from here to there in one fell swoop is what kills many dreams before they even have a chance to breathe. They gradually dissolve, or simply disappear into thin air.

The people who really do achieve their dreams, even their “impossible dreams,” are the ones who find or develop strength beyond their own skills, who believe in what they’re doing and what they’re capable of, and who never give up on their quest. They continue to work and to move forward, even when moving forward feels like falling down or backing up.

If you have a dream that you want to achieve, don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. But don’t think that wanting it is enough to help you get it. Work for it, fight for it, and figure out ways to get over, past, or through whatever obstacles are around it. Ask for help when you need it, and offer your help in return to others who are working on dreams of their own. And like the Man of La Mancha, Cinderella, and many, many people in real life have discovered, you can accomplish the impossible. And from there, the possibilities are endless.

© Betty Liedtke, 2011