“The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.”
– Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtioj (Freet-yof) Nansen was an arctic explorer, a scientist, and a humanitarian who saved upwards of 7 million people. For his amazing work he was awarded the nobel peace prize (1922). Here’s why:
In 1920 he helped repatriate nearly half a million prisoners of war and in 1921 he nearly single-handedly organized relief efforts for victims of famine in Russia, saving an enormous number of lives, estimated between 7 and 22 million.
There is no doubt in my mind that Nansen was a hero and his name will not be forgotten, but this article is not a history lesson, or a biography of this amazing man. Instead I want to shed light on a philosophy he had regarding impact, specifically the idea of impossible.
Nansen had this perspective that the only difference between difficult and impossible was time. What a beautiful idea and one that I whole-heartedly believe in. This idea lead to the second point that I talk about in my small actions keynote.
Time makes the impossible possible
When I was in grade 12 my teacher told me “small consistent actions lead to massive global changes”, but if I could go back to that class and change one thing, here’s what I’d add:
Small consistent actions (compounded over time) lead to massive global changes.
A big misconception we have is that it is our actions that produces the result we desire, but what is often left out of the equation is time. Time is the real catalyst that allows your actions to compound and create change. Don’t get me wrong, the action is vital and without it change cannot occur, but if you don’t stay consistent with it for an extended period of time your action becomes useless.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
– Bill Gates
Nansen was on to something when he wrote this quote and I hope it reshapes your idea of change and impact. What I took away from it was that change and impact always takes an extended period of consistent efforts so don’t stop and anything is possible.