Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

I read this question long ago in Robert Schuller’s book, Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking. It resonated with me in way I couldn’t define. You see, growing up, I was surrounded by a culture that thought about avoiding failure—a community concerned with finding the safe routes to a safe life.

While I had my father and other mentors to help me think and dream bigger, the safe thinking of my community still held some sway. You see, I had what I thought were big dreams, but there was something within me that wanted bigger. I wanted to be the best possible person I could be, which meant I needed to expand my thinking in order to achieve that outcome.

That’s where Schuller’s book comes in.

Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking helped me reframe my way of looking at the world. Instead of trying to avoid failure, I could live differently. I could live unafraid of failure by putting failure in the right perspective (something I wrote about last week).

Once I had the right mindset about failure, I found myself free to think as big as I wanted. I could imagine huge goals that sounded strange or silly at the outset but were indeed possible with the right thinking behind them.

Decades later, I’ve achieved more than I first dreamed, but never more than I thought was possible.

Over the next two weeks, I want to share some thoughts with you on Possibility Thinking. Simply put, Possibility Thinking is the willingness to see possibilities everywhere instead of limitations. I believe we’re at a time in our culture where we need people who can engage and inspire others to see more than just the problems before us—we need people who see the possibilities within the problems.

This week, I want to offer you three things that Possibility Thinking helps you break free from. Next week, I want to share with you how your Possibility Thinking helps others break free too.

So, let’s get started.

What three things does Possibility Thinking help you escape?

Negative Life-Stance—here’s what I know: when you see the world as limited, you’re more likely to see the world in a negative way. When you look at the world through a negative lens, you amplify what’s truly bad and you minimize what’s truly good. Possibility Thinking begins with seeing the world as open instead of closed; as positive instead of negative. When you choose to think about the possibilities, you choose to think about what’s positive—which magnifies what’s good and minimizes what’s bad.

Dead-Ends—one of the biggest outflows of a negative life-stance is that many people come to believe that they are stuck, that there’s nowhere left to go in life. Possibility Thinking takes you beyond dead-ends by reminding you that anything is possible—that there are more solutions, options, and avenues available to you than you’ve allowed yourself to see, which means momentum is available to you if you’ll just choose it.

Shame—this may be the deepest and most difficult trap to escape, but Possibility Thinking makes it possible. Researcher and author Brené Brown defines shame as, “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” If you’ve noticed a pattern, good. Limited Thinking devalues everything—circumstances, abilities, and ultimately self. Possibility Thinking adds value to everything, thereby restoring hope to where we find ourselves, what we can do, and who we are as people. While overcoming shame requires a lot of mental and emotional work beyond just Possibility Thinking, having a mindset that allows positive possibilities to flow certainly makes the work easier to do.

What I love about Possibility Thinking is it creates options, which are a leader’s best friend. Truthfully, options are anyone’s best friend, because they allow us to move forward in life with hope. And as we move forward, we discover that others are inspired to move forward too—it’s what leadership is all about.

But more on that next week.


  1. Robert Negron on August 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Awesome article. Lord, help me remove any negative or limiting thinking keeping me from all I can be through You!!

  2. Bernie Mordorski on August 20, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    I read the book over 40 years ago. Still have it. Possibility thinking has kept me going and keeps me going today. John I love your insights! You have been my mentor for 20 years or more through your books and seminars? It’s hard to believe. THANK YOU JOHN!

  3. Khaya Booi on August 20, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Wow what a powerful teaching.poasibility thinking Can change what seems unchangeable, it takes you out of the box. What a powerful article indeed.

  4. Stephen P. Gazama on August 20, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Awesome insights about possibility thinking. Truly nothing takes us beyond our limitations more than possibility thinking. Thanks John!

  5. Adebayo Mansur olajide on August 21, 2019 at 1:24 am

    What an inspirational article. Possibility thinking I think is the best way to start s a leader.

    • Victor on August 22, 2019 at 4:28 am

      This is inspiring thanks for this article

  6. Nomuhle on August 21, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Wow! How liberating to discover Possibility Thinking! Thx for this wonderful article.

  7. […] Possibility Thinking, Part One […]

  8. Carol Brown on August 28, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Blog is very helpful! Thank you!

  9. Jenifer Cabaniss on August 29, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Love Dr. Schiller! I have learned the power of “re-framing” my life experiences, as well. I grew up listening to this inspirational leader of positive thinking. I have also learned the DISCIPLINE of practicing JOY. It takes a decision to be grateful and joyful and full of faith and positivity. I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Thank you, Mr. Maxwell!

  10. Stephanie on August 31, 2019 at 12:53 am

    Thanks John very helpful tips

  11. Gangadharan.sankaradoss on October 30, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Excellent messages

  12. Gangadharan.sankaradoss on October 30, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Excellent messages

  13. Gangadharan.sankaradoss on October 30, 2019 at 2:12 pm


  14. […] Source link […]

  15. […] possibility thinker is someone who reframes problems. They think in a lateral, rather than a sequential, way and […]

  16. Mariam on September 9, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I understand all of this and I think positively and I worked hard to achieve my dream but I failed, all the methods that make me achieve my dream disappears I don’t know how to began I really don’t know!,I do everything that needed to achieve it I don’t what wrong I have done,
    My grades is less than my dream college and now I will go to a college that I didn’t thought I would be in it,
    I hate it, apparently I lost the way to my dream,what I really want, what I love to do ,what I know that I’m good at .
    That breaks me so much

    • Shantell Thomas on September 13, 2020 at 12:54 am

      At any given time, you are either moving closer to or further away from your destiny.

  17. […] Maxwell defines Possibility Thinking like […]

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