What’s Really Impossible?

When I was a kid growing up I was a big fan of the television show Star Trek. Okay, so maybe my fascination with the show has lasted a little but beyond my kid years. I still like the show and the movies it spawned. 

One of the more amazing things about the TV series, the original Star Trek and it’s successors, is just how much of the science “fiction” turned out to be not impossible fiction but real technology that is actually in use today. 

Think about it.

In several episodes, we were amazed at the universal translator, which decoded what aliens said in real-time—and in the later shows, it was integrated into the communication badges (which explains why basically everyone, regardless of home planet, spoke English). Now, there’s an app for that. Voice Translator by TalirApps understands 71 languages (no Klingon yet, though). You speak in your native tongue and the app translates your phrase into another language. 

Lieutenant Commander Geordi Laforge used a tablet computer (what they called Personal Access Data Devices, or PADDs) to punch in coordinates for the next star system. Other Starfleet personnel used them to watch video and listen to music. Sounds a lot like an iPad to me. 

In the Star Trek universe, you can talk to a computer (voiced by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Trek creator Gene’s wife) in casual conversation. Today we use Apple’s Siri and Google Now, and while they aren’t fully developed yet, they are first steps toward technology like Star Trek’s computer, which has a complex understanding of context. Google even codenamed their voice-based service “Majel,” in honor of Barrett-Roddenberry.

Captain Kirk was pretty handy with a phaser, and he didn’t always set his to stun. We’ve been using something similar since the first Iraq War. Known as a dazzler, the directed-energy weapon sends a pulse of electromagnetic radiation to stop someone cold in their tracks.

I could keep going with more examples but I think you get my point. Most of that fiction on Star Trek was impossible right up until the moment it wasn’t.

So what is really impossible? 

Apparently nothing! At least not until every person living today, and every person who will live in the future agree that “it” is impossible. That’s a whole lotta people.

The lesson of Star Trek is simply; don’t let people tell you that “it” can’t be done. Don’t let other people limit your potential with their small thinking. Do what you think you can do and if you think you can’t do something think again. If someone else can do it then you can do it too. You only need a strong enough desire to make it so.

If no one else can do it then make yourself the first. Most of what we take for granted today was once considered impossible. It was impossible right up until the moment someone decided to make it possible.

Are you the person who will turn one of today’s “impossibles” into tomorrow’s “possible?” 

You are if you decide you are.

Everyone Wants to Feel Worthwhile

Everyone wants to feel worthwhile. There is little doubt about that fact. Everyone knows that. I suppose there is someone who might be surprised by that but they must live in some alternate universe. 

Leaders know that their people want to feel as if they matter. Great leaders know that it goes beyond a want, it is in fact a basic human need. 

But knowing that and doing something about it are two very different things. Knowing your people need to feel worthwhile is useless unless you use that knowledge to actually take specific actions that help them feel worthwhile. 

Specific actions. Strategic actions. Intentional actions. Consistent actions. 

Showing your people that they matter, that what they do makes a difference, is not a once a year, or once in a while activity. Ensuring that your people know that they are worthwhile and demonstrating exactly how they are worthwhile, requires a high level of intentionality. 

I literally recommend that leaders put a reminder in their calendar to stop whatever it is they are doing and at least once a day connect with one or more members of their team to show them how they are worthwhile to the team. To explain to them how their skills and abilities add value to the organization. Human beings need to know that they matter. They need to know that they, and what they do are worthwhile. 

I think almost everyone reading this knows that, the question is what are you as a leader doing about it? 

I’ve spoken about this often enough in front of groups and with individual leaders to know that there is actually some hesitation with revealing a person’s true value to an organization. I’ve had “leaders” tell me that if my people know how much they are really valued by the company they will want to be paid more or they may leave. 

Yep, that’s possible. Here’s what else is possible, actually more than possible, it’s even likely that if your people don’t think they matter, if they don’t know that they are valued, they WILL leave. Often, they will leave for less money. 

But here’s the real reason for helping your people feel worthwhile: it’s the right thing to do. 

If you need a more compelling reason for helping people feel better about themselves and what they do then this isn’t the blog you should be reading. But I wish you luck in your leadership endeavors, you’ll just find them much more challenging than they need to be.