Impossible is a Dare

Impossible isn’t a declaration.

It’s a dare.

How do I know? Because Muhammad Ali told me so. Ali was not only the greatest athlete of the twentieth century but one of the most interesting humans in modern history. Ali died a year ago this month.

I was so moved by his story that I compiled and published an anthology of writing by him and his contemporaries. (I’m biased, but I strongly recommend the book. You can buy it in print or ebook here.)

Ali was also a terrific wordsmith. Here’s what he had to say about the limiting word “impossible.”

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” — Muhammad Ali.

For no good reason, most of us believe there are things we just can’t do. I wrote recently about how I believed it would be impossible for me to improve my penmanship. But when I identified this faulty thinking I was able to change it.

Many of us believe we can accomplish almost anything. But that’s not enough. We need to believe we can accomplish anything.

That’s what Ali did.

And that’s why he’s the greatest.



  1. I do believe there are some objective limitations to human potential. Like – no matter how hard I tried there is no way I would be able to run 100m faster than Usian Bolt.

    But people focus too much on that 0.00001%. Find a way to live good life if you are in top 2-5% of the field. Now, that’s something everyone can do and where “impossible is a dare” plays big role. Maybe 2% of population can run 100m in 12-14 seconds… but anyone that’s relatively young and puts their mind to it – will be able to do it. And will be rewarded with healthier body and happier outlook in life.

    Thanks for your thought provoking post and keep it up!

  2. I really like this, I have always been one of those people to stay to myself not push myself to my limits. I never did things I thought I couldn’t do. It wasn’t until I got married that my husband pushed me to do things I thought were impossible. Sometimes you just need someone by your side pushing you along. So many things seem impossible until you try.

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