“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
What if you have a fish who for some reason wants to climb a tree – it is stupid? What if it has to climb a tree?
I'm guessing that Einstein was talking metaphorically about fish climbing trees. He was probably talking about people, right?
Five years ago, I embarked on a mission to make it to the standard of a professional footballer at a very late age (there is part of a documentary on that mission here). I had full support of my friends and family but some people thought I was crazy trying to make up 15 years of education in such a short period of time at such an advanced age for that particular discipline. Their views were understandable but my beliefs led me to make my choice to put everything in to seeing if I could do something new.
I remember during my training it became apparent that my size and lack of endurance made me more suited to playing as a forward than a winger. Looking at elite wingers, we saw that the vast majority were 10kg lighter than me at roughly the same height and body fat percentage. My weight came from a denser bone and muscle structure. I chose to concentrate my efforts on developing my striker play rather than my wing play. I chose.
We aren't fish climbing trees. We are humans. We are the most transformable species on Earth, blessed with an ability to learn that surpasses all others.
Most of the things most sane people want to do are humanly possible. Possible and probable are two different things.
Six years ago, the notion of a 6'5” 94kg man with size 15 feet breaking the 100m world record was improbable. Before 1987, a 5'3” NBA player seemed incredulous. Before 10 years ago, the idea that a middle aged man with very little endurance training could run a marathon in only shorts in -20 degree centigrade conditions seemed like lunacy. All of these things have came to be. These acts that seemed to be somewhat limited by physical attributes and capabilities have been performed and redefined.
We are not fish climbing trees. We are people making choices.
With my personal examples, with one scenario I chose to ignore conventional opinion on possibility and probability and with the other, I bought into it. I found endurance training very tough and it was easier and more instantly gratifying to stick to developing what I was better at. Could I have further improved my endurance? Yes. I could have lost a touch of muscle and done more work on my running efficiency. I could have pushed myself harder at times and planned my training more cleverly.
Maybe you have been told something you want to do isn't possible. Maybe you have tried something and failed. Maybe you are scared.
We have all been there.
Just please, don't kop out and say that you are a fish trying to climb a tree. You have managed to read this blog post – that makes you a pretty remarkable fish that could probably climb a tree anyway.
If you aren't that remarkable fish, you're probably a human equipped with the most incredible ability to change and learn of all of the species ever to grace this planet. Your ancestors have built civilizations, harnessed electricity and explored space with the same hardware as you. It wasn't easy for them, many of them gave up but some of those persistent ones chose differently and some of those succeeded.
Impossible and improbable are very different things.
You are not a fish climbing a tree. You are a person making choices.
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