Possible But Not Probable?

— The Times of India

Elston Pimenta

Is that how you define your next promotion? Then it's time you start practicing `possibility thinking'

“Possibility thinking” refers to the “CAN” be done, but very often confused with the term “probability thinking“. Let's attempt to differentiate the two terms. The possibility of 3 turning up when the dice is rolled is true. The probability of 3 turning up when the dice is rolled is 16. So, while one is looked at as a reality, the other is looked as just a chance.

It's the thinking that differs possibility thinking makes an individual approach a task or a goal with positivity, transform the already-been done ideas into extraordinary possibilities and therefore, gives an individual freewill of choice. Probability approach makes the individual think logically, evaluate pros and cons, evaluate mathematically and therefore, restricted with acceptance.

It's all about the mindset. Some individuals challenge the status-quo, look at ordinary and routine stuff innovatively; they brainstorm and develop a unique quality of creative problem solving. All inventions, innovations and discoveries are born out of `possibility thinking’. However, the safe, reliable and proven way makes us adapt to the `probability thinking'. It makes us judgmental in our approach to anything in life. We give credit to past experiences, develop beliefs and are victims of our own pre-conceived notions.

Here's an example that has always intrigued me. The laws of aerodynamics prove that the bumblebee can't fly, as it does not have the required capacity in terms of wing area or flapping speed. Obviously, the bumblebee is unaware of the laws of physics or unknowingly defies it, and therefore, it flies. Needless to say, there must be a good reason of how it flies but that's when we get from `possibility thinking' to `probability thinking'.

There is a similar concept to the idea that a kangaroo can't exist because jumping would consume more energy than it could possibly get from eating. Like the bumblebee argument, it is possible to prove that a kangaroo can't jump if you leave out a few key variables. If you assume that a kangaroo is simply an 80 kg weight that is lifted up and dropped repeatedly, then your calculation will show that the kangaroo can't jump. But, kangaroo does jump and there would be enough reasons and experiments to prove that fact.

As managers, supervisors and mentors, we need to develop the leadership trait of `possibility thinking'. I firmly believe that's our fundamental responsibility. We need to make an effort to identify, create, cultivate and nurture potential in the people we handle. Move away from a biased mindset, move away from being judgmental and move away from using the power of authority.

So where do we start? Simple start looking at yourself first before you spread your influence onto others. Here is a three-stage formula that you can adopt:

Evaluate yourself being as truthful about it. Look at what the ideal world would look like for you where others are not inconvenienced.

Make conscious and deliberate efforts to think of possibilities. Be truthful to yourself. Let changes come in small measures but make it a routine. Welcome challenges. It does not matter how major are the hard times that we are facing professionally, socially or personally. Remember, overcoming challenges is what makes life rewarding and stronger for us.

Be an example, be an inspiration to others and be a role model. It would require a flexible plan, remaining focused despite all odds, emulating role models that give you moral strength and support in propelling you to embracing possibility thinking.

In the words of Somerset Maugham, “It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. “

Now that's what I call `possibility thinking'. So be a game changer and go for it!

-The author is head  HR, Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd.