Two Kinds of Possible

Two Kinds of Possible

GUEST POST from Dennis Stauffer

If I asked you whether something was possible, your answer would probably be based on your understanding of our current technologies and capabilities.

An electric car? Sure.

Finding a restaurant using your phone? No doubt.

Teleportation Star Trek style? No.

But that’s not how an innovator thinks about what’s possible. For them, it’s an entirely different question. The notion of what’s possible can have two quite different meanings. One that favors innovation and one that resists it.

If you asked someone living in the 19th century whether powered controlled flight was possible, or whether communicating through the air was possible, they would have said, No. And yet people like Marconi and the Wright Brothers set out to invent those technologies because they believed it was possible—if they could figure out how. So, there are these two very different ways of thinking about what’s possible.

  • The first answers the question: Can we go do that?
  • The second answers the question: Could we do that if we can figure out how?

Based on the first definition, teleportation is clearly impossible. But based on the second definition, it’s an open question. We don’t know, and we won’t know, until someone figures out how to do it. The fact that we haven’t figured that out yet, doesn’t mean we won’t or can’t.

We now know that for powered controlled flight, the answer to both questions is: Yes. It’s possible now; and it’s always been possible in the sense that the rules of the universe permit it.

No doubt many things are possible that we can’t yet do. That’s true of our technologies, and it’s true in your life. When you think like an innovator—with an Innovator Mindset—you believe all sorts of things are possible. And those beliefs are what prompt you to pursue all those amazing possibilities.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

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