5/20/2018 | 3 MINUTE READ

Nothing is Impossible

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As long as we continue to seek out the areas that will contribute to our further advancement and work to refine our skills and improve what we already can do, we will be able to surpass what even recently was considered impossible.

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The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination.
— Tommy Lasorda

Can you hold your breath for 24 minutes? Seems crazy, right? I sort of struggle getting to 24 seconds. But it has been done. According to wired.com, whose YouTube channel includes several videos about “almost impossible” acts, Aleix Segura set a world record in 2016 by holding his breath for 24 minutes and 3 seconds. Granted, his feat was aided by certain strategies such as breathing pure oxygen for several minutes just before starting the timer. But the fact is, he accomplished something that most people would deem unattainable and most experts feel is at the absolute limits of human ability. In other words, they believe it’s an almost impossible feat, and going much longer than that will never happen.

How many times have we heard that? Until it happened, not many would have thought someone could ever run a four-minute mile or perform an 8-foot high jump. Nobody expected Hank Aaron’s career home run record to be broken or a building to be constructed taller than the Empire State Building. Yet time after time, amazing feats are surpassed by even more extraordinary accomplishments.

People are always finding new, better ways to get things done. Creative minds develop new strategies for accomplishing tasks more efficiently. This is the beauty of the progress of civilization, and it applies to everything. But some people question how long we can continue to outdo ourselves. Australian Institute of Sport Senior Sports Physiologist Hamilton Lee was noted on huffingtonpost.com as saying although we are yet to reach the limits of the human body, it is bound to happen. "I think that time could come. I think the amount of world records that get broken will slow down, and they'll only be broken by small increments because we're getting closer to the limit," he says.

But I’m not convinced. People have been evolving throughout all of human history. Sure, our bodies have limits, but those limits now, in many ways, far exceed the capabilities of the human body (and mind) of those hundreds or thousands of years ago. I see no reason we as a collective race won’t continue to improve over time in ways that will suit our needs, not only for survival, but for competitive good.

This drive to be more competitive spans across business as well as sport and is what paves the way for progress. In metalworking, we look for the best ways to serve our customers, usually in the form of providing some ideal combination of quality, price and delivery time (with first-rate customer service thrown in for good measure). Achieving this goal requires constant advances in technology, and while we continue to run up against apparent limits, I refuse to accept that we will ever reach a point that we can’t push through with enough effort. Look at the progress we’ve made in only the last 50 years.

Improvements in machining capabilities, automation and production rates are remarkable and demonstrate that in many ways our advancement is accelerating. In terms of computing speed, we need to look no further than Moore’s law, which accurately projected the doubling of components per integrated circuit every two years, indicating exponential growth of computing power. A result of this compounding can be seen in smartphones, which are millions of times more powerful than the NASA computers used to put a man on the moon in 1969.

We owe this progress to believing we can continue to get better. Serious improvement and pushing through barriers, real or imagined, requires a certain state of mind. My daughter, Andi, now owner of an athletic performance facility, specializes in the psychology of sport. She says, “To achieve and maintain his or her peak performance, an athlete must train the mind as if it is an aspect of equal importance to that of strength, speed, agility and endurance.” She teaches that only with the right mindset, which takes time and effort to develop, can a person truly get the most from his or her body.

As long as we continue to seek out the areas that will contribute to our further advancement and work to refine our skills and improve what we already can do, we will be able to surpass what even recently was considered impossible.

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