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Notes: Book Highlights from the Impossible Manifesto

My highlights from Joel Runyon's Impossible Manifesto:

Some time between our teenage years and adulthood, people strip away the possibilities from us. We're told what we can do and what we can't do. What's possible and what's not.

We're made to believe what we should do and what's simply irresponsible. Somewhere along the line, we forget that we control a lot of things.

It's your life. You get to decide what happens. There are a million different influences around you every day trying to get you to buy into what you "should" do, but ultimately you really can do whatever you want.

You get to write your story.

***

Are you telling a good story with your life? The emphasis is on the word "good", because whether you like it or not, you're telling a story. No matter what you do, with each decision you make, you're writing your story every day.

Whether your story is an adventure-filled page-turner or more boring than a 50-year-old-textbook is up to you. But, you get to decide.

***

When you want something, make sure you want something worthwhile.

Because eventually you are going to have to fight for it.

And it better be worth it.

***

Wanting to live vicariously through others takes relatively little effort. You can sit back and watch TV or scan the Internet, reading about people doing interesting things with the click of a button. But, because there's little effort involved, there's little conflict.

There's also little reward and little meaning.

The more worthwhile the cause, the more Impossible it tends to be. The more Impossible something tends to be, the more conflict the character invites in. But the more conflict the character invites in, the larger the story arc becomes and the more potential it has to suck you in because it's so compelling.

***

Living a good story is an amazing reward by itself.

Even if nobody knows what you're doing, you're enriching your life by immersing it in a story. Instead of having arbitrary goals and accomplishments, by living a great story, you create narrative for them. A context. A purpose.

Instead of just crossing stuff off a list, you're experiencing a story. You're living an adventure. One that's worth writing about.

One that's definitely worth living.

***

The really great stories are about pushing the limits and seeing what is possible. Not stopping ahead of time because the challenges seem too great, but rather pushing forward exactly BECAUSE they seem so daunting. You see a massive conflict ahead, but realize that victory is just going to be that that much sweeter.

***

When you start to challenge what's Impossible you begin to realize a whole new world of things that aren't actually Impossible. They only represent the limitations of other people's imaginations.

Once you've shot through the limits that are placed on you by other people, you begin to realize that there are still things beyond your limits that now seem within reach. So you keep going and going and keep discovering new so-called "Impossible things" that are now somehow doable.

Every time you challenge the Impossible, you gain a new understanding of what is actually possible.

You realize how small a world you had created for yourself with your own self-imposed limitations in the past. And how big of a future is possible. Pretty soon, even the most ridiculous things in the world don't seem out of reach if you really want to achieve them.

***

It's hard to imagine owning your own business when you're stuck working at UPS getting chased by dogs in the snow. It's hard to imagine running a marathon when you can barely jog a mile without heaving up a lung. It's hard to imagine traveling the world when you haven't even been out of the state.

You have to gain perspective.

***

It's hard to make huge jumps sometimes and imagine yourself in a completely different world living a completely different life than you are now. But that's because of your perspective. Your current perspective colors your subjective version of reality.

Push the boundaries of Impossible and you'll see that it expands. Keep pushing and you'll see that your subjective version or what's possible isn't as accurate as you think it is. The boundaries of the Impossible are constantly expanding. So keep pushing them.

***

Do something. I said this earlier but it bears repeating. The easiest way to confuse the feelings of accomplishment with the feelings of inspiration is to forget what accomplishment feels like. If you've accomplished something recently and remember what it feels like, the lure of watching someone else do something isn't nearly as attractive.

***

No one will live your life story for you. No one will make your life one worth reading about for you. No one will challenge what's possible with your life for you.

No one that is...except for you.

***

Chances are, you probably already know what you need to do. That thing you have in the back of your mind. That thing that gets you excited about life. That thing that keeps you up at night, but you're scared to try because everything might fall apart. That's the thing you need to do most.

***

The need for courage

The great myth of fear is that you overcome it. Fear isn't a barrier and it isn't something that you overcome. It's simply a constant.

You don't learn to get over fear. You learn to coexist with it and press on anyways, in the midst of it's presence.

That's why you need courage.

Courage allows you to look fear dead in the eye and tell fear to suck it.

People who do great things don't have an absence of fear. They have an abundance of courage, which allows them to do the Impossible, in spite of the fact that they're scared out of their mind.

***

It isn't all about you. Lots of people have lived great stories, but the ones that have the most impact are the ones where the authors look back to see how they can help other people tell great stories as well.

You can download the full manifesto for free over here: Impossible Manifesto.

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