Impossible is Not a Fact—Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.  

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.  

Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela

Inspiring words–I discovered the first quote, while researching Christiana Figueres, leader of the United Nations climate change negotiations between  world governments.  A New Yorker journalist noticed that Ms. Figueres has a framed saying behind her desk that reads: “Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.” A fitting motto for someone who is passionate about fighting climate change, and whose role includes leading a team of 500 United Nations employees and hosting annual climate change conferences.

Christiana Figueres speaking at press conference at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 2012
Christiana Figueres speaking at press conference at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 2012

Christiana Figueres’ vision is clear: the world must find a way to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions.  In other words, she is not assuming that the world will be persuaded to stop growing–especially not an option for countries in poverty that need to develop.  Her vision for the future is ongoing growth, while employing energy efficiency and clean energy, rather than fossil fuels.

While Figueres is quite aware of the obstacles and the urgency of addressing climate change, she leads with positivity, patience, and understanding.  In a recent Union of Concerned Scientists Webinar, she said  that economic “self-interest is becoming a key driving force on all levels”, as are scientific and moral imperatives.  Society as a whole, not just governments, have an important role.  The climate actions of political leaders  are being driven increasingly  by businesses, scientists, faith leaders, and concerned citizens.  

How do I relate to the ‘impossible’?   I have been wondering lately if I have a dream or whether I avoid a defined vision so as to avoid failure.   Those who have been scanning my blog will know that I am quite concerned about climate change, and while I do what I can  personally, I get discouraged by the  disconnect between where society appears to be going and the information provided by science.  Nevertheless, positive changes are happening–so my current mission is to know more about them and to share through my blog and Twitter.  Besides that, I want to express myself and be heard, which means persisting with developing a blog that many people read.  I find all three of the quotes cited above personally inspiring.  Please read on for even more inspiration from Christiana Figueres.

The ultimate discovery, on my Christiana Figueres ‘investigation’ was a Commencement Speech that she made at the University of California.  In this talk she offered two guidelines for life’s journey  distilled from her personal experiences. They demonstrate her profound sense of purpose and vision, determination, optimism, and patience:

Create Your Own Reality:

Decide to consciously exercise the power to create your own reality. The quality of your life is not determined as much by what happens to you but rather by how you react to what happens.
Go with the determination to create the reality you want for yourselves, for your society and for your century.


Let the Full Plan Unfold Gradually:

Discover the joy in every individual experience in your life, and have the patience to let the full plan unfold gradually.

It is not about getting to the ultimate perfect destination right away, it is more about fully appreciating each stop along the way, and knowing that each stop has a lesson to be learned, a skill to be honed. Eventually you will be able to connect the dots, even if those connections are not evident from the start.


The Weight of the World by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, August 24, 2015.

Christiana Figueres Commencement Ceremony Speech, University of California, San Diego, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.  June  13, 2015

imageThis post is being linked  to Writer’s Quote Wednesday September 23 hosted by Colleen Chesebro, author of Silver Threading.  Please follow the above link to read the launch post. As well, there are links to other Writer’s Quote Wednesday posts in the Comments section.

13 thoughts on “Impossible is Not a Fact—Writer’s Quote Wednesday

  1. I’m pleased that you are talking about this important topic and the role you can play in being an advocate. Please keep doing what you’re doing. I also wanted to let you know that the last quote from your Christiana quotes is particularly important for me to read at a time when I am facing my own personal crossroads. Thank you. Best. Chevvy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I think one has to take the word “impossible” into context. Politics is the art of the possible, they say, and what may seem impossible can be realized when we engage collaboratively to achieve a common goal. Zen master Norman Fisher once wrote that ideals are powerful because they are impossible (for us humans to achieve), but the quest (with disciple and commitment) is to keep seeking those ideals.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing quotes! We surely need to address the issue of climate change as a real issue in our world today. When politicians slice the topic from the realm of reality it really causes me to wonder what planet they are on! Thanks for the inspiration of Christiana Figueres. We need her words to propel us into working solutions! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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