Impossibility?/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on June 30, 2016


A quote from the late Muhammad Ali:

“Impossible is just a small word that is thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It is a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing!”

Mediation works because people have a vested interest in seeking an agreement that can attain Win-Win. But there is always the gnawing doubt that the parties possess as to the sincerity of their counterpart in negotiating, in trying to have a proper discussion of the issues, in wanting to reach an agreement, etc. It may seem impossible to get a fair agreement. Giving up hope of achieving true closure on matters in dispute is a sigh of total resignation. It is the opinion that something is impossible. However, if we look at “impossible” as a dare, there is a set of variables to contemplate. “Impossible is nothing.”

A psychologist I now know, was asked to join at team of many others in providing counsel to survivors of the 2004 tsunami. One man had been saved by holding onto a tree branch for more than one day while surrounded by swirling waters. The man was asked how he mustered the courage and grit to hold on for so long. He said that he remembered something his Grade School math teacher taught the class. She often said, “If the problem is difficult you have to try hard. If the problem is impossible, you have to try harder.”

Negotiating or mediating with a tough opponent can seem to be impossible. But impossible is a dare. “Impossible is nothing.”