I Want To Be Possible

I_want_to_be_possible

On Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, which is a time of personal reflection, the Rabbi told us a story (which I made into the attached cartoon) about the person, who when asked what he wanted to be–when he grew up–said “I want to be possible!” That’s the serious part.

 

And when asked “why possible? The person replies humorously because his mother always told him how impossible he is. 🙂

 

The short parable struck me as pretty profound and worth sharing.

 

Because everyday, each of us has to wake up and look ourselves in the mirror, and ask–are we happy with ourselves…who we are…what we have become?  And is it really what we want to be, when we, proverbially, grow up?

 

In the movie Reckless, when they ask the teen growing up in the working class town what he wants out of life–he replies short and to point, “More!”

 

What more do we want out of our lives?  More money, more honor, more things…at the end, that’s all sort of besides the point–isn’t it?

 

What is important is making more possibilities in life–for ourselves and for others by creating a better world.

 

In other words, it’s not about the material (although we all need to take basic care for ourselves and our loved ones–that’s just being responsible), but fundamentally, it’s about the opportunity to make the impossible, possible!

 

For each of us, the challenges are unique and all too often (G-d protect us!), life’s trials and tribulations test us to our very core–so overcoming impossibilities has a distinct meaning for all of us.

 

But as a strategist, a futurist, and an enterprise architect, I know deep down that the art of the possible is in looking forward and not backwards, and working tirelessly to sacrifice and serve.

 

I pray for the new year that G-d gives us the strength and the wisdom to overcome our personal and societal weaknesses, limitations, and selfish inclinations to help and “repair the world”–creating new opportunities for peace, health, and prosperity for all!

 

(Cartoon created in BitStrips)

 

>Faith or Fear?

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I love stories of hope and possibility.

I read in the Washington Post, 1 August 2009, about cars that actually enable blind people to drive. This was one of those stories.

In 2004, a challenge was issued from a blindness advocacy group “to build a vehicle that the blind could drive with the same freedom as the sighted.”

Around the same time, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—the same government agency that brought us the Internet—“ran a series of contests to inspire a driverless car that could navigate complex terrain.”

However, at Virginia Tech’s Robot’s & Mechanism Laboratory the challenge of “an autonomous vehicle wasn’t enough. We want the blind person to be the driver, not to be driven.”

To meet this once unthinkable goal, the design team developed a prototype vehicle that blind students this summer are actually testing.

Here’s how the vehicle works: An all-terrain vehicle with a front-mounted laser sensor sweeps the terrain ahead, and a computer in the back processes the information into a two-dimensional map. A computer voice tells the driver through headphones what number of clicks to turn the wheel to steer around obstacles and a vest vibrates to indicate whether the driver should slow down or stop.

By challenging ourselves, bringing innovation to the table, thinking positively, and working through the challenges, we are able to bring opportunities to people that many thought were impossible.

Yet even today, I heard people reacting to this story and saying “Oh, I wouldn’t want a blind person driving behind me.”

But why not? There are reasons to believe that this can work.

First of all, in the vehicle tests, the blind drivers actually did better than the engineers because they followed the directions coming from the computer more precisely.

Second, when it comes to other modes of transportation such as flying, people no longer seriously question the use of technology to aid our ability to see, navigate and fly through all sorts of weather and turbulent conditions. Now a days, a large commercial airplane flying at hundreds of miles an hour over densely populated cities on autopilot is an accepted fact.

I believe there are really two issues here:

On one hand, is the technology itself. How far can technology take us—are there limits?

And the second issue is can people overcome their mindset of fear, doubt, hesitation, and negativity to really stretch the bounds of the imagination to the what’s truly possible?

I think both the issues of technology and mindset are strongly related.

Obviously there are laws of nature and physics that place real limits on even how far technology can take us. Yet, as we press against the boundaries and test the seemingly impossible, we are able do things that practically defy those very laws. For example, who would’ve thought that man could fly like the birds, walk on the moon, communicate thousands of miles in a split second, or cure the incurable? Perhaps, what we perceive as physical limitations are only there until we can figure out how to overcome them with innovation and technology—and of course, the wisdom bestowed from the almighty.

By realizing that the boundaries are not so hard and fast—that they are elastic—we can have hope in going further and doing the seemingly impossible.

Certainly, I recognize the very real legitimacy of the concerns that people might have over the thought of blind people in the driver’s seat. However we must ask ourselves how much of this concern is based on rational, logical factors and how much on a misperception or mistrust of what technology—and blind people themselves—can actually do. To me, it really comes down to one’s mindset.

Through faith, courage, conviction, we can overcome our doubts and fears. We can and must continue to explore, to test the bounds, and to innovate some more.