I believe we all want to to do great things, and sometimes great things seem impossible. I built Tailored Output to be a solution, to help you accomplish The Impossible.
And while I have quite a bit of experience in this realm, I’ve dedicated the last two years to research. To understanding what exactly goes into that phase: Accomplish the Impossible. Because my brain doesn’t work like your brain. And my way might not work in your case. What are the underlying principals? What are the universal truths?
This research has been the foundation for my blog. And my coaching work. And my workshop development. It is everything to me because it is everything I stand for: helping people do amazing things.
If I had to boil down the research into a secret to accomplishing The Impossible it would be this:
Keep asking the right questions.
Master a subject. Solve a problem. Create something original. Lead (instead of manage). These are all incredibly hard things. And they all take an enormous amount of effort. You have to do something, often many things. And determining what to do starts with inquiry.
Accomplishing The Impossible is not a step-by-step system. Or a five-point plan. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. It’s not linear. There is no checklist. You are working to solve a hard problem. By definition it wont be easy or fast or cheap. It will be a drawn-out process that you can’t sprint through and survive.
How will you know what to do? What skills do you bring to the solution? What motivates you most about this issue? What do you need to learn? How will you protect your health and creativity? What friends can you enlist to help?
The questions are the same no matter your project, no matter the problem you are working to solve. It is the answers that carry all the creativity. All the value. All the progress. And nobody can uncover those answers, but you.
I’ve built a kind-of framework for Accomplishing the Impossible. Like I said, these aren’t steps. They’re questions. And they are questions that you will need to answer and re-answer over and over as you work toward your goal.
- What is the problem I want to help solve? What part of this problem is important to me?
- How do I feel? How do I want to feel? What elements of the solution are most energizing to me?
- What are my strengths? What are my talents? What magic do I have to apply to this solution?
- What is my inclination? What are my interests? What am I most curious to pursue?
- What are my values? What principles do I stand for no matter the circumstance?
Learning and Growth
- What do I have to learn? And where can I get that knowledge? What mentors can I find?
- What can I learn from the attempts others have made to solve this problem? How could I apply that knowledge in my own way?
- What can I do to give myself mental breaks? How can I allow my subconscious adequate time and energy to make connections my conscious brain cannot find?
- What is my definition of success? What standards will I hold myself to? What is good enough?
- How can I embody the spirit of an eight-year old? What can I do to unleash my curiosity? What questions can I ask, that I am too afraid to ask? What’s obvious?
Vision and Planning
- What is my ideal future? What is the picture I paint in my mind when I think about the day when this problem is solved? How does that make me feel?
- What is the most important thing for me to do next? Why is this problem hard? What is the hardest part of this problem? Where is my energy best spent? What can I take off my plate to make more room for what matters?
- What are the next few steps I need to take? When will I take them? Can I commit or is there something getting in my way? What can I do to shrink the task and overcome those barriers?
- What risk am I comfortable taking? What risk do I see in my plan? How can I mitigate some risk and buy myself the ability to take bold action?
Influence and Inviting
- What is my story? What is my why? What can I do to share? How can I become more clear?
- What gaps are there in my strengths and inclination? Who has the strengths and inclination to fill those gaps? How can I reach them?
- When does the work become too much? How can I find others with the same or similar goals? How can we best share the burden and help each other move forward?
- What is my ideal team dynamic? How do I work best with others? Who do I most want to have in my circle? How can I ensure alignment on values and objectives?
- Who will bring in alternative perspectives and unique experience that the team desperately needs?
- How do I lead this effort? What skills must I hone to ensure we are moving in the right direction? How do I best care for my team?
- Whose permission do I need to take action? (Hint: your own)
- What can I try? How can I ensure that lessons are captured? How do I build learning into my process? Now that I’ve tried something, what can I try next?
- How do I take action in the face of fear? How do I stay the course in the face of fear?
Health (Mental and Physical)
- What does it mean when I fail? How do I manage my feelings in the face of failure?
- How do I respond to external shocks, unexpected outcomes, and high hurdles?
- How do I feel? What trades am I making in my health and wellbeing to accomplish this goal? Are they sustainable? What can I do to promote health and wellbeing? How can I ensure that I am physically capable of the curiosity and creativity needed to accomplish The Impossible?
- What resources do I have available when I feel overwhelmed? Or unworthy of my goals? How do I manage the voice in my head?
Mastery. Achievement. Creativity. Leadership. Life. These are all dynamic situations. As you practice and make progress you will take in new information. And that data will change everything. That’s a good thing! It means it’s working. It means you’re working. And when you get to the point where everything's different (and you will, over and over again) you’ll know what to do next: get out your notebook.
How to accomplish The Impossible?
More than a decade of experience. Two years of dedicated research. And I don’t have The Answer. Nobody does. That's the point.
We have the questions. Let’s get started.
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As part of this research project I have digested countless books, journal articles, magazine articles, TED Talks, and more. There is an ever growing list of recommended materials on my Resources page. And a full accounting of the source material at the end of each blog post.
Here, I'd like to highlight the books that have most influenced my understanding of how to accomplish The Impossible. The ones I reread frequently, give as gifts, and cite most often in my work and in my writing.
To date... I should always add that caveat. The research continues!
The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul (affiliate link) by Danielle Laporte
Mastery by Robert Greene
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright