Recently, I had a conversation with the coach of a championship robotics team. As they started this year’s season, the team was struggling with the design process and frustration levels were very high. Encouraging them to face these challenges, he reminded them of a pivotal moment during the previous World Championships…
The robotics team entered the competition with high hopes. They had set several world records during the season and were the state champions, however their thinking was being driven by their circumstances. The team was really struggling and their robot was experiencing mechanical failures. At one point the team wanted to throw in the towel and quit. After all they had made it to the semi-finals, which was pretty good. They thought their season was over and they might as well just pack it up!
When the team was at its breaking point and ready to give up on their dream of becoming World Champions, their coach stepped in. Now I know you are thinking he gave a fiery speech about overcoming adversity, well he didn’t. He said, “everyone, take 3 minutes to feel sorry for your selves and then get back to work and solve the problems.”
Our thoughts drive our actions. If we believe there is no hope then all is lost. Possibility thinking reminds us that there are always solutions, alternatives, and options. Sam Ewing said “Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.” When we open our minds to possibility thinking, we broaden our horizons to bigger dreams. It opens the door to new opportunities. Henry Ford once said “If you think you can or you think you can’t then you will.” Truer words have never been spoken. Successful thinkers constantly think “I can, I will, and I am.”
Now, for the rest of the story. The team regrouped and while it was an uphill battle, they prevailed and achieved their dream. They won every match from that point and became the 2012 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Champions defeating teams from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.
How did they overcome the challenges they were facing? Did they replace their robot? Did they make one adjustment and everything was okay. No, there was no silver bullet. Their success was a result of a change in their thinking from “we’re done” to “we’ve got this.” Possibility thinking gives you energy, makes it possible to rise above your set backs, and keeps you from giving up. It opened the door for the team to shift their focus to finding solutions.
Is there an area in your life where you are ready to throw in the towel? If so, try possibility thinking before you do. It just may open the door to finding your solution!
Dr. Kim Moore
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