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.

Completed: 16.6% of my Life

If there's anything I've learned the older I've become, it's to never claim to know what the you of the future (even 1 year in the future) will say, do, think, or believe. I didn't expect or anticipate a single thing that's happen to me in the past two years and I have no idea, and refuse to make any assumptions of, where I will be in three, six, or even twelve months from now.

It's liberating to let go of all expectation and to live life as it comes at you—with a plan yes, but one that is pliable; one that you will allow to adjust and change on the fly.

It makes you feel invincible, as if each and every day is an entire lifetime, and that you have nothing to worry about besides what happens today.

What is age anyway? It's a number which we have created to define time—to catalog our existence on Earth. For that matter, if I lived on any other planet in this solar system, my age would not be 25 today.

My Age

If my age can fluctuate so much just by the planet I reside on, then what age would I be living on other planets in other solar systems? The bottom line is, we create and define age. It's a measurement of time which has been globally accepted (I won't say universally accepted, because I highly doubt other universe's have agreed to anything). I talked more about time in a previous post, Timeless Living.

The human mind is a very powerful thing—so powerful in fact that I believe we assist nature in making us old by reminding ourselves of our age. We have this preconceived idea of how old we're expected to live—how many people truly believe, and I mean as much as they believe they will die without air, that they will live to 150 years old?

I don't tell myself I've turned 25. I tell myself I have turned 16.6. I cannot escape the usage of date and time during my day-to-day living and I cannot change what everyone has agreed upon as a measurement of time. So instead I've decided to change what I believe my age is: I'm only 16.6% through my life. When I die, and reach 100% of my worldly existence, I will be 150 years old.

The Observer

Yesterday, I was driving home from work in Boston to my parents house in New Hampshire. As I was pulling out of a side street, onto a major road, I looked to my right and saw no cars. I looked to my left and saw no cars. However to the left I was unable to see more than 50 feet down the road because the road went up and over a hill. So I looked quickly to my right once again to make sure it was clear and took my foot off the break petal. As the car started to roll forward and my foot moved from the break petal to the gas petal, some uncontrollable force jerked my foot back over to the break petal, for no apparent reason at all. As my head moved to look to the left, a car flew right in front of me, missing me by inches.

As I exited the side road, pictures of what could have just happen flashed through my head. I saw my car being smashed in the front, spinning around and hitting another oncoming car, and causing a pileup. All of this in a very dangerous location just over a hill, where cars normally travel 50mph. The pictures in my head were so realistic that it was as if all the physics needed to make a realistic recreation of what could have happen, had already been calculated. Is it possible that in an alternate reality my foot continued to press on the gas petal and I slammed into the oncoming car? Is it possible that the repercussions and effects of such a disaster were so strong and profound, that signals from the event were felt even in an alternate reality (mine), which somehow helped prevent me from making that alternate reality my own?

Ironically, when I arrived at my parents house a few minutes later, my dad put on a 2 hour science show about the quantum world, interestingly called "What The Bleep Do We Know?". It touched on so many controversial ideas and asked so many of the same questions that I have always asked myself for as long as I can remember, that I'm going to buy the DVD just to hear to them again. I've always felt a sort of disconnection from reality, an unreal, dream like feeling. Many argue that such a feeling isn't good because it prevents me from taking responsibility for my own actions or being receptive to the feelings of others. However, I believe that since I have felt this way my entire life I have been able to make the clear distinction between "this world" as everyone perceives it, and "the other world" that I feel I exist in. I can still live my life and respond to others as anyone else would, however I'm always aware that something else exists.

Masaru Emoto, a Japanese photographer, has shown with his photos that thought and emotion can affect the properties and shape of water molecules. If that's not proof enough that thought and emotion can directly have an impact on the world around us, then I don't know what is. There have been many unexplainable cases of patients miraculously being cured by their strong will to survive. Positive thoughts do more for us than strengthen our self-esteem. They strengthen our physical bodies and make our world a better place. I always observe myself whenever I'm in a difficult or stressful situation. Just observing yourself through a separate identity that isn't effected or touched by worldly problems, makes dealing with situations much easier. It puts problems into perspective, just like the photographer behind his camera always sees more than his camera ever could.

In the movie there is a story told about the Indians who were the first to see Columbus when he arrived in the New World. The Indians could not see Columbus's ships, even though they were anchored near land, because they had never before seen such a ship. The medicine men noticed ripples in the water around where the ships were anchored, so they knew something odd was happening. Only when the Indians put their trust and belief in what the medicine men were telling them, and when they genuinely believed, did they actually see that the ships existed. Whether this story is true or not, it does make you wonder: Is it possible for us to see something that our mind cannot imagine? We can imagine a rock floating in mid-air, so I suppose if someone had the power to make a rock float, we'd see it. We might not want to believe it, but our brain could certainly imagine it. Now suppose there's an alien spaceship, a spaceship like we've never seen before. It doesn't look like any spaceships we've seen in the movies or in a cartoon and it has no likeness to anything we've ever seen before. How could we see it? If we can't even imagine it, how could we possibly see it when it's right in front of us? Maybe that's why all the photographs of UFO's or eye-witness encounters have been so vague. We want to believe, so we see something, but we just don't know what to see. So thats what we see, something.