Apollo 13, Jon Gomm and “It can’t be done”

Apollo 13, Jon Gomm and “It can’t be done”

One of my latest best friends was sharing with me some common objections he encounters at work:

  • “It will never work.”
  • “It can’t be done.”
  • “We’ve tried that before.”

He expressed how frustrating that was for him to deal with, especially  since it was so apparent to him that things could be done.

It’s all about attitude and belief

  • Man would never go faster than the speed of sound.
  • Buildings could never be taller than … (we’ve broken just about every limit placed here).
  • Iron ships would never float
  • A man could never run a sub 4 minute mile
  • etc., etc.

We have more than enough examples of things that we take as normal today that people once thought could never be done.   And the only reason that we take them as normal today is because one brave person had the courage to ask “Why not?”and the belief that the impossible was not.

So maybe it’s merely the belief that things can’t be different that accounts for why most people tolerate mediocre lives, jobs, marriages etc.

Or maybe it’s really unwillingness to do the work

It’s one thing to believe that something is possible and it’s another thing to have the will to make it happen, or even the willingness to let it happen.  When someone says “It can’t be done,” or “It will never work” what they’re really saying is one or more of the following:

  • “I’m unwilling to do the work”
  • “I’m unwilling to pay the price to make that happen”
  • “I’m afraid of failing”
  • “I’m afraid of being blamed”

Lessons from Apollo 13 applied to everyday life

If you’ve never seen Apollo 13, you will not waste 140 mins of your life if you watch it.  It’s a movie that has such strong life lessons that I would watch it with my kids if I had any.

The movie is a testament to what I’m talking about here: a can-do attitude, an indomitable spirit, an unwillingness to simply give-up and let circumstances take over.

And it demonstrates what’s possible if the stakes are high enough.

What if I pointed a gun to your child’s head?

When confronted with “It will never work” this is a great counter question.  Could you do it then?

Possibly that’s the acid test.

If your life or the life of a loved one depended on it, could it be done?

Unfortunately many people will contort such a hypothetical and still come out where they began i.e. it can’t be done, but at least they will be confronted with their attitude as the reason: not because of any physical impossibility.

Jon Gomm and “It’s never been done (that way) before”

What do you think of when I bring up acoustic guitar playing?

Probably the same ideas and images that everyone who hasn’t seen JonGomm play an acoustic guitar.

Talk a look at the video below (thanks Juliette).  Listening alone is impressive, but part of what makes Gomm special is how he plays the guitar.

Jon must have had an Apollo 13 mentality when he approached playing a guitar.  Nobody ever told him that it must be played a certain way or that there are limits to the sounds you can get from a guitar.



 No boundaries

What all of this points to is that most (maybe all) of our boundaries are self-imposed, and that whether or not something can be done, or in fact gets done depends on our belief that things could be different and on our will to make it so.


Photo by h.koppdelaney

Any thoughts? Contributions/acknowledgments welcome.