On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
This was the first time in human history, mankind stepped foot on anything other than the Earth.
There is no understating the importance of this piece of history. It marks the moment we shifted from being a one-planet species to one capable of travelling to other planetary bodies.
It is arguably the most important moment in the history of our species, and certainly the most important in recent times.
If you asked someone in 1950 whether man would set foot on the moon, by the end of the 20th century, they would have thought you were crazy. Yet, 19 years later the feat was accomplished.
That this event happened nearly 50 years ago is even more bewildering. If we think back to how much technology has advanced since then, it’s amazing they were able to pull the mission off and return 5 times.
While the question of why we haven’t been back to the moon, or further, is a good one, the Apollo 11 mission has a poignant message regardless.
That things are only impossible until they are done.
Attempting The Impossible
The Apollo missions are a triumph of human engineering and ingenuity.
To not only put a man on the moon, but to be able to bring them safely back to Earth is an incredible achievement. To put this into context, the first powered flight only occurred 66 years earlier in 1903.
To go from this and then be able to reach another planetary body in such a short space of time is mind-boggling.
What does this tell us about ourselves?
One way of looking at it is that anything is possible if we set our minds to it. There are no limits to what we can achieve, the only limits are those we place on what we believe we can achieve.
If the team tasked with putting a man on the moon deemed it was too difficult, the project never would have got off the ground. Instead, they believed in the project and trusted that they could pull it off and achieve the impossible.
As a species, we have a distinct lack of foresight. Whenever someone dares to place their head above the parapet and dare to state what they believe is possible in the future, they are quickly shot down.
We become used to the way things are and find it difficult to contemplate a time when this may not be the case.
The Four-minute mile is a case in point.
The feat was deemed impossible by informed observers of athletics. Runners had been trying to break the barrier since the late 1800s to no avail. It was believed the human body was not capable of breaking the barrier.
Yet, on 6 May 1954, Roger Bannister ran the mile in 3:59.4, dipping below the mythical four-minute mile mark.
In an instant, Bannister did away with conventional wisdom and rewrote what was possible. Since that day, over 1,400 athletes have run a sub-4-minute mile.
Usain Bolt redefined the parameters of what the human body was capable of when he ran the 100m in 9:58 in 2009. There are those today who believe it’s impossible for the human body to take this mark below 9:50.
Will, we reach that threshold breached in our lifetime?
It’s hard to say, but there will be those who try, and those crazy enough to try are normally the ones who make the impossible possible.
While these are great stories, how can we use them to our advantage in our everyday lives?
The simplest way is to use them as inspiration. There are numerous examples of people being told they can’t do something or being told a task is impossible and then proving their detractors wrong.
What they all had in common was that they never internalised the beliefs of those who doubted them. If they had, they would have never accomplished what they did.
You have to believe something is possible even when others say it can’t be done. If you internalise their beliefs, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby believing it’s impossible will make it impossible.
The inverse is also true. If you believe the impossible is possible, then you can make it possible, despite how long or how hard it may be.
History is littered with examples of people who beat the odds, as we have discussed. Would they have been able to do this, if they believed otherwise?
It’s highly unlikely.
The key is to believe in your own ability to reach your goals. What anyone else says is immaterial. Let their doubt be your biggest motivator.
Prove to them that impossible is nothing!