Note from Ray: At our recent RWDevCon tutorial conference, in addition to hands-on tutorials, we also had a number of “inspiration talks” – non-technical talks with the goal of giving you a new idea, some battle-won advice, and leaving you excited and energized.
We recorded these talks so that you can enjoy them, even if you didn’t get to attend the conference. Here’s our next talk – Possible by Tammy Coron – I hope you enjoy!
When I was younger, my mother used to say to me that nothing is impossible. She would say that the impossible just takes a little longer.
At the time, I was positive her words were meant to encourage me and to make me feel better about myself. After all, watching your child deal with failure after failure, something I was quite good at, is difficult to say the least.
Having two children of my own now, I can honestly say that watching your child struggle, or any child for that matter, is one of the most painful things a parent can witness. Of course, I didn’t understand that then, but now I understand it only all too well.
As parents, we want our children to succeed. We want them to have the confidence in themselves to keep trying and to keep reaching out to make their dreams a reality.
Like my mother did for me, I now do for my two boys. Of course when I do they look at me kind of funny and they wonder the same thing that I did when my mom told me about the impossible, “Is she nuts? Doesn’t she get it? There are lots of things that are impossible.”
Let’s step back for a minute and clear something up. What does the word impossible mean? In the dictionary it reads, “Not able to occur, exist or be done.”
It’s pretty hard to misinterpret that, right? If this is what impossible means, then why would my mother lead me to believe otherwise? Was she setting me up for failure? Doesn’t she realize that things are impossible? I’m pretty sure she was setting me up for failure.
Actually she wasn’t. It wasn’t until later that I realized what she meant. For years she drilled that same message into my head.
Time and time again, especially when I was at my wits end with one thing or another, she would say, “The impossible just takes a little longer. The impossible just takes a little longer.”
Honestly at the time, it was more frustrating than encouraging, but because I love my mom I would patiently listen. I would thank her and then I would go back and try and figure out how to do exactly what it was I was trying to do.
Oddly enough, in a roundabout sort of way (that’s a shameless plug for my podcast Roundabout by the way) her method of encouragement worked. I didn’t give up. I never gave up.
To this day, I still don’t give up. It’s like what Rocky says, “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving.”
When you stop to think about it, her message and now my message to you is not about the impossible taking longer. It really isn’t. In fact, it has nothing to do with the impossible.
What it boils down to is what is possible. What am I truly capable of accomplishing?
How Does Success Begin?
When you give up, things that are possible never happen. They get replaced with failures. They become impossible.
Think about this: What would have happened if Orville and Wilbur Wright believed everyone else around them? After all, everyone knows it’s impossible for man to fly.
It’s difficult to imagine that even the most successful people started somewhere. Take for example this guy, Steve Jobs. He wasn’t born into the Apple world. He made it through trial and error. He had many failures along the way.
In fact, he was even kicked out of his own company, but instead of giving up he went back and figured things out. He learned how to do things right, how to make the impossible possible.
Of course we all know how the rest of the story goes. If he had given up, none of us would be sitting here today.
Almost all success stories started with a failure at some point. It’s this failure part of the story that’s missing within the folklore of success. When we hear these stories, we have a very distorted view of the formula for success.
Did you ever wonder how many failures times rejections divided by blood, sweat and tears equals success?
Yeah, me too, but it’s math so we’re going to skip it. :]
Sadly there are too many people who give up. When it gets too hard, we’re tempted to quit.
That’s because most of us have no point of reference for the failure part of the story. We see folks around us rise to the top and wonder why it’s not happening for us. Remember, we usually come in at the end of the story.
Do you honestly think J.K. Rowling came out of the womb holding the Harry Potter manuscript? Thankfully for her mom, she didn’t.
Was Harry Potter an instant success? No. Not even close. In fact the manuscript was submitted to twelve different publishing houses and each one of them rejected it. It wasn’t until a year later that Bloomsbury Publishing decided to publish it and then later Scholastic Corporation.
Writing a Children’s Book
I actually have a similar story to this, granted I am certainly no J.K. Rowling. In 2006, I wanted to write a children’s book.
I had no prior experience with it; I just knew this was something I wanted to do. Sounds impossible, right?
When I talked with my mother about it, she did what I expected she would do. She told me to go for it because, well, like she says, nothing is impossible. The impossible just takes a little longer. It’s the little longer part that most of us trip over.
The first order of business was to learn everything I could about the publishing industry. I bought books on printing, books on layout and design, books on marketing, books on illustration, books on books about books about publishing. If it existed, I either bought it or borrowed it.
Eventually I had everything I needed. I had the book written and illustrated, and it was ready for print. Now I just needed a printer, and believe it or not that was the hard part.
My first few attempts at securing a printer went horribly wrong. After dealing with a dozen or more companies, I was ready to give up. Some printers were well beyond my budget, others create such horrible samples that even if they printed it for me for free I would have passed.
After a few weeks of banging my head against the proverbial wall, and in some cases the real wall, I was at my wits end. I kept hearing that message in my head, “The impossible just takes a little longer. The impossible just takes a little longer. ”
A little longer? If I wait any longer I’m going to be a hundred years old.
At that point, I had two choices:
- Give up.
- Keep going!
I opted to keep going, partly because this was something I wanted and partly because my mom scares the heck out of me. I didn’t want to disappoint her by giving up too quickly, and I am happy to report that I didn’t give up.
After many frustrating situations, I finally found the perfect printer and I successfully launched my first children’s book (another shameless plug – Happy Birthday Puppy):
The feeling of accomplishment that comes along with doing something that seems impossible is incredible.
Some of the most challenging things in life can also provide the best reward, but that’s how life is. It continuously throws us challenges with seemingly impossible odds. The fortunate side effect is that we grow and learn along the way.
You may not know this about me, but I used to be a firefighter. Yeah, I know, it seems impossible, right? It’s true.
When I told people what I planned to do to join the fire department, some responded with negativity and skepticism. They said I couldn’t do it. They said I was too small, too weak, and a girl. Like I didn’t know I was a girl!
I ignored them, and despite an endless stream of cautionary commentary from what seemed like a countless amount of individuals, I decided to join the fire department anyway.
I walked into the firehouse and requested an application. I remember the guy who handed it to me. He was a bit of a jerk.
When he gave it to me he was sort of laughing and said something under his breath along the lines of, “Good luck with getting any help with that. No one wants a girl around here.” Later I would discover he was wrong.
After completing my physical, I submitted my application to the lieutenant. He understood that I didn’t have any experience. He also understood, after I confessed, that I was afraid of fire.
Afraid of fire?! Can you imagine that, a firefighter afraid of fire?
He wasn’t worried. He just smiled, he said, “It’s okay, we’ll help you.” Then he gave me this gigantic fire suit, it’s called turnout gear.
He showed me how to put it on. He said step into your boots and then pull it up over yourself. His name was Mike. He was an awesome guy, and he helped me out a lot.
Oh and that other man, the one who was laughing at me; guess what? He was nowhere to be found.
For the first few weeks on calls. I was nothing more than a “go for” girl. Go for this, go for that.
They needed to make sure I was serious about this before investing any resources or money into me. A lot of times people join the fire department and then they quit after a few weeks.
I was not one of those people. Once they realized I wasn’t going anywhere, they sent me to the fire academy where I spent a grueling and exhausting twelve weeks.
We trained hard. We took part in drills with real fire, like the same fire I told Mike I was afraid of, that fire.
We were taught about a tiny little device that would alert our crew if we had a problem and hopefully help them locate us. This tiny little device is what could save your life, and we trained for that.
If you hear one go off, find it immediately and then get out of the building. As you might imagine, this is pretty darn stressful and it feels damn near impossible.
Somewhere around the fifth week I had an unexpected medical problem, one that required surgery. The trouble here is once you start the twelve weeks you have to finish all twelve weeks without missing a day. If you miss one day, you’re out.
You have to go back to the next session and start over from the beginning, and I didn’t want to do that. My doctor on the other hand, that’s exactly what he wanted me to do. He said, “You need to take it easy until you’re healed. You can’t go back. You need to relax.”
Obviously he didn’t know with whom he was dealing. There was no way I was going to let that get in my way. I had the surgery on a Friday, I returned to the academy on Monday making sure not to miss any time.
I pushed through the pain. I stayed motivated. At times, it felt impossible, but I kept going and I didn’t give up. I just kept pushing myself and pushing myself and pushing myself right into graduation.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Was it hard? You bet.
Remember, things that are worth having aren’t always easy to get. If all things were easily achieved, then what’s the reward. What happens to our sense of accomplishment if everything is just handed to us?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have the occasional dog bone thrown your way, but here’s the thing, if you don’t work for something, then what’s the point?
Did you notice I didn’t say, “If you don’t work hard for something”? Working hard isn’t always necessary. Sometimes work is just work. It’s time, it’s energy and thought, but not necessarily hard.
Ten Thousand Hours
How many of you have heard of the ten thousand hour rule?
The ten thousand hour rule was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in 2008 in his book Outliers, and it goes something like this. In order to become world-class in any field, ten thousand hours of dedicated time and deliberate practice is needed.
To illustrate his point, Malcolm cited a number of different examples from Bill Gates to The Beetles. He also wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” The magic number of greatness. What exactly did he mean by that?
I believe he meant exactly what my mom has been telling me all these years, that the impossible just takes a little longer. Apparently my mom, the jokester, left out the ten thousand hours part.
All kidding aside, when Malcolm talks about this rule he doesn’t mean that working ten thousand hours at something will guarantee you a table at the greats.
You won’t suddenly be crowned the master in your chosen field. Not at all.
He means that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be manifested. Now he says this rule does not apply to sports; I disagree with him, but then again, I disagree with a lot of people about a lot of things. Just ask my mom.
I think that if you want something bad enough and you’re dedicated to doing the work that it takes to get it, then there is no reason you can’t manifest it. I know there is a lot of people who will disagree with me on that and fight me tooth and nail, but call me an optimist, I believe, I truly believe that anything is possible.
iOS Development: Definitely Possible
Let me give you an example in my own life. When I first started in IOS development, not many people were in the game yet. In fact, at the time I don’t even think that we called it IOS development. I believe we refer to it as iPhone development.
We didn’t have a lot of APIs and it didn’t take too much to get familiar with all of them, but it still took a little time to learn about them.
Nowadays of course things are way different:
- Apple is constantly adding new settings.
- There are hundreds of APIs.
- Even a new language, let’s not forget that!
Do you think this information will magically appear within your brain? No. It’s going to take dedicated time and deliberate practice if you wish to learn about them, and that’s why we’re here. Like everyone in this room, at one time or another I had zero experience with IOS development.
Crazy as it sounds, I wasn’t born knowing how to do this. I had no clue how to use UITableView. I couldn’t tell a delegate from a protocol, and I had absolutely no idea why I was synthesizing everything.
Like you, I had to learn. In fact, I’m still learning. Thanks to this excellent IOS community that we’re all apart of, we don’t have to be isolated while we’re doing it. We can help one another and remind each other about the possibilities.
It should be noted that we can also smack each other around when one of us talks about things being impossible, and I would encourage you to hit them harder when they complain about how long it’s taking to finish an app. You’ve all been warned.
That formula for success, what is it?
Well there isn’t one. Actually I should say there isn’t just one. There are many and they’re all unique.
It’s up to you to create your own formula. I’m going to give you a hint at what you need to do that. You need:
- The passion to get it done.
- The dedication or the time required to get it done.
- And this is probably the most important, the understanding that nothing is impossible.
Make Your Impossible Possible
Look, I won’t lie. Despite being at this since nearly the start of IOS development, there are times when things seem impossible, especially now that we have this new language, a language that none of us has ever seen before.
It’s swift, our new mountain and we can climb it together.
While we’re climbing it, it’s important not to give up. Keep at it. Know that we’re all here to cheer you on and help you along the way.
Take your time. Enjoy the process.
Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up. Save your energy for the guy complaining about things being impossible.
Because remember, absolutely nothing is impossible. The impossible just takes a little longer.