I kept one poster above my bed. It was a photo of Muhammad Ali moments after the punch that knocked Sonny Liston to the mat. The most famous version of the photo shows Ali standing over the fallen Liston. My poster doesn’t show Liston at all–it’s just Ali from the waist up, as though it was taken from Liston’s point of view looking back up at Ali. And it’s terrifying. Ali’s face is contorted in an expression of primal rage. His arm is flexed. He’s leaning forward. Ali looks like he’s beating his chest and unleashing a war cry. The punch that knocked out Liston looked so innocuous that it’s hard to believe. What a wimp that Liston was, you tell yourself. But then you see the picture. Would you really want to get back up and face that? I wouldn’t.
Three words sit in front of Ali’s chest in bold print. They are a shortened version of an Ali quote:
Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
It’s a twist on an old saying. “Nothing is impossible,” is what you say when you’re looking for a way out. “Well, nothing is impossible, but it’s certainly improbable.” Don’t cheat yourself. Turn the words around, and you deny the very existence of impossible. There are no excuses. It’s all on you.
So get up.