Lucky People Share!

Can you do the Impossible?

Last week I wrote a review of Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek and I wanted to share the story below from the book since my last post was about redefining the “impossible”. 

While teaching at Princeton University, Tim Ferriss offered a challenge to his class.  He preached to the class that you don’t need to work like dogs to be successful in life but he also knew that most of the students in the class will probably work 80 hours a week as “high paid coffee fetchers”.  He wanted to prove that his teaching can be used in real life so he decided to offer his class a challenge that would put his teachings into practice. 

The winner of the contest would receive a round trip airfare to anywhere in the world.  The challenge was to contact 3 “seemingly impossible” to reach people; Jlo, Bill Clinton and J.D. Salinger and get at least one of them to answer a few questions. 

Close to 1/3 of his class remained after class to hear the challenge and participate.  None of them completed the challenge or even gave the challenge a chance.  They all had an excuse why they didn’t take or complete the challenge.  They all thought that someone else would outdo them, so none of them even showed up.  According to the rules that Tim set up, if any of them even gave a one paragraph illegible response, he would be forced to reward them with the prize. 

The next year, Tim offered his class the same challenge but with one small difference.  He told them about the previous class’ results.  The results in the second challenge were 6 out of 17 students completing the challenge within 48 hours. 

People tend to give up when they think that a task is “impossible”.  They look at it for a few seconds or even minutes and decide whether it is possible or not.  Then if they come to the conclusion that it is “impossible”, they drop the task and go into “excuse” mode.  They think that if something is “impossible”, nobody can possibly expect them to complete the task. 

If someone gives you a puzzle to do, you will try to figure it out but at a certain point, you may decide that it is “impossible” and stop trying.  But, if someone else was doing the same puzzle and came up with a solution, you would probably take a second look at the puzzle since you now know that it is “possible”.

An experiment was once done where 2 groups of people were given 2 bent nails that were attached and told to try and detach them.  One group was told that it may not be possible while the other group was told that it definitely was possible.  Who do you think gave up first?

You guessed it.  The “impossible” group gave up after a few minutes while the other group kept on trying until they figured out how to separate the nails. 

Now you have to think twice before writing something off as “impossible”.

About the Author Amir Lehrer

I am a typical person more or less that has always tried to get away with doing the absolute minimum to get by. In school, I did my assignments last minute, I barely passes some of my tests, I crammed for everything and didn't care about retaining any information. I always wanted to be successful and get lucky but my problem was that I thought that luck and chance were synonymous. One day, all that changed when i found out that there was more to "Luck". I learned that it was possible to make your own luck and that people that were "lucky", all had very similar characteristics. I made a conscious decision to become one of those lucky people and the world started to open up. It didn't happen overnight and I'm still not there yet but at least I know what to look for and what to do. Recognizing the opportunities to get lucky is only the beginning of the battle. Now I have to train myself to jump on every opportunity and one day be truly "lucky".