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Redefining the impossible… in business and in life

Posted by Malcolm Hall in: leadership

Many years ago, when I first heard about an extreme triathlon called the Ironman, I dismissed it out of hand as something near impossible.A 3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle and 42.2 km run, simply did not seem achievable. As I sit writing this, I am now proud to say that not only have I been there and done that, but I have also got the Ironman T-shirt. It was a huge challenge physically and mentally, but in my mind it is not only now possible but also infinitely doable. I walked away from this event with a sore body and a soaring spirit, knowing that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

This is a philosophy that I live and work by… it’s about refusing to place limitations on your abilities. At Open Box, we constantly strive to find better ways of doing things. This is an approach that is engrained in everything we do, every day. From time to time, it’s important to question what you’ve done recently that you’d define as a significant challenge. I continue to be amazed at the way in which those seemingly impossible challenges become relatively ‘normal’ once you’ve achieved them. And when that’s your new normal, you can begin striving for even higher goals (which in turn will undoubtedly become your future normal).

I’m proud to say that I’ve seen this time and again in the way Open Box goes from strength to strength. One example that comes to mind relates to our development approach, tools and methodology. For years, Open Box was peerless in our approach in this area. But, as one would expect, our competitors gradually rose to the occasion with a comparable offering. And while we were good, we were no longer ahead of the pack. What previously distinguished our company, was becoming the new normal. So once again, we knew that we needed to differentiate Open Box with an offering that no one else could match. I’m happy to say that in the last year we set ourselves a new goal, one that was seemingly impossible, and it is now our new normal. We have once again reclaimed our peerless position in this arena. This approach has become a strategic theme within our company. And I attribute many of our successes to this shared mind-set of ambition.

As with everything in life, there are risks involved. But if you refuse to take those risks, if you never aim for the impossible, you’re probably accepting a poor compromise. The same applied to my Ironman triathlon experience. Naturally, there was a risk that I wouldn’t finish. But if I never put myself out there, I would never have discovered what I’m truly capable of.

It was T.S. Eliot who said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”. An inspiring quote, from an equally inspiring man. It begs a few questions…

When did you last challenge yourself? What is your near impossible? And when will you transform it into your new normal?


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