A cautionary tale about the power of words and why we banned the word "impossible" in our company.
The Daily Haiku for April 24. It's impossible.
Few things truly are,
But if you think something is...
I am going to tell you a little secret. Last week, we banned the word "impossible" in our company. We told our employees "You cannot say this is impossible anymore. That word is banned".
We have a very diverse company, culturally speaking. We have employees from many different cultures. No culture is objectively better than others. All have their pros and cons. I am indeed reading "The Culture Map" nowadays to try to understand better all the cultural aspects of the communication with my employees.
But one aspect is common in all slavic cultures, especially those from ex-USSR republics and Eastern Europe. The negativity and what Miguel and I call the "It's impossible" culture.
When faced with a new challenge, or something that needs to be done in a different or new way, the first reaction of slavic employees is usually:
This culture is present in people from countries so wildly different as Ukraine and Estonia, to name some examples.
As it turns out, most of these things are NOT imposible. They are only impossible in their minds. Once you say... "Ok, it is impossible, but if you wanted to do it anyway, what would you do?", then magically, the impossible becomes very difficult, but possible "Well, we could do this, but we will need to have that in place...".
With a little bit more effort, the impossible is doable in just a couple of weeks.
What just happened?
It's all a matter of freeing your mind, and understanding that a marathon starts with a tiny little step.
Don't fall into the "Impossible" mindset trap. Don't even stop to think if something's possible or not. Be naive enough to believe it is possible and try to do it. There is only one case in which it is certain to be impossible: if you believe it is.