Achieving Impossible Goals

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“If the world were to blow itself up the last thing you would hear would be the voice of an expert saying it can’t be done.” –Peter Ustinov

Don’t pay too much attention to the experts. They told the Beatles that the time for a guitar group had passed! At least one of them, Paul McCartney, is still going strong. He played at half-time at the Superbowl in 2005. Not bad for someone whose time had passed.

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21. He was given two years to live. He went on to get married and have three children and became one of the greatest theoretical physicists that the world has ever known. He became a Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge – the position once held by Sir Isaac Newton. He lived more than 40 years beyond the time he was supposed to have died.

At one time in the UK, some mothers were been released from jail. They had spent years of sheer hell in prison for allegedly killing their own children. The evidence against them provided by a leading ‘expert’ has been shown to be faulty. They are now free but their lives have probably been destroyed irreparably. The expert was not even fired from his job.

The experts probably told Sir Ranulph Fiennes that running 7 marathons in 7 days soon after a massive heart attack was not a good idea. He did it anyway. Sir Ranulph, who was described as the world’s greatest explorer in 1984 in the Guinness book of records, has the self-confidence to ignore the experts. Sir Ranulph went on to climb Everest by the difficult route. The experts probably did not bother to tell him that a man with a heart condition should not try to pass the ‘death zone’ on Everest where oxygen is in short supply. Sir Ranulph was not too concerned. He believed that, if you plan meticulously and take the right person and the best kit and accept the fact that luck is an element, you will do alright.

Anthony Smith, a 78-year-old UK pensioner, asked for three volunteers over the age of 65, to accompany him on a raft made of gas pipes across the Atlantic. Two of the gas pipes were to be sealed full of air to provide buoyancy and the others filled with water for drinking and washing. A woman of 24 volunteered for the voyage, despite the request for male applicants over 65. Her application was reluctantly rejected. Anthony didn’t know if he would or would not succeed but he probably already had a boat load of experts telling him not to set sail.

An expert told me, many years ago, that I was making a fuss after I had a minor operation on my toe. I was in severe pain for two or three days. My mother did not believe the expert’s assessment and eventually removed the bandage. My toe was black with gangrene. The bandage, put on by another ‘expert’, had been too tight. I could have lost both my leg and my life if my mother had paid too much respect to the experts.

There are more than enough experts and critics to go around. We don’t need to become our own critic. The rest of the world will do the job, of trying to shoot you down, for you. You don’t need to do it yourself. You have to be your own cheerleader and your own biggest fan. Not your biggest enemy and my fear is that maybe you don’t cheer yourself on enough or give yourself enough credit or enough of a chance.

Obviously one should at least listen to the experts. Many of them do know what they are doing and could save your life or your money. After all, we rely on experts to fly planes, advise us during pandemics, and help us deal with managing our taxes. However, we should not automatically assume that experts are always right. Some of them are spectacularly wrong.

about author

Karie Barrett
Karie Barrett

Karie is a results-obsessed marcom, design, and analytics professional with proven success leading corporate marketing, internal communications, and business strategy development for companies across diverse commercial and nonprofit industries.

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