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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

Throw Down The Gauntlet

Robert Stevenson Blog - Celebrate those who accept and conquer challenges.

To throw down the gauntlet means … to challenge. The term comes from the time of medieval knights when a knight would offer a challenge by throwing down his gauntlet (a metal glove which formed part of his suit of armor). The other knight accepted the challenge by picking up the gauntlet; to take up the gauntlet means to accept a challenge.

To be successful, you need to be willing to accept challenges. There is no running and hiding from your competition. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. Success, accomplishment, and winning come to people who are willing to challenge, confront, contest, dare and defy what others think to be impossible. Christopher Reeve once said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Throughout your life, you will encounter people who will use words like: futile, hopeless, impractical, unattainable, hardly possible, hundred-to-one odds against you, impracticable, out of the question, no way, never happen, fat chance, when pigs fly, one chance in a million, ghost of a chance, impossible, no chance, not a prayer, slim chance, small chance, snowball's chance in hell, unthinkable, very little chance, not likely to happen, unlikely, doubtful, improbable, and when hell freezes over … as their negative way of approaching anything that has never been done before.

I like the attitude of Napoleon Bonaparte who said, “The word impossible is not in my dictionary.” They said no one would ever run the mile in 4 minutes and they were wrong. The phone, radio, television and computers were all deemed to be impossible … as well as flying. Difficult and impossible are not the same thing, but there are a lot of people out there who will stop trying because they don’t have the fortitude and desire to make the seemingly impossible … to be possible.

The great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once said, “Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” I think we need to start picking up the Gauntlets life throws at us and start accepting more challenges. For you leaders, managers and bosses out there … why not have an “Annual Gauntlet Award” given to the person or team that overcomes the biggest challenge or accomplished the seemingly impossible task. We need to celebrate those who accept and conquer challenges.

Take on the perspective that when someone says it is “Impossible” … to you, that only means that a solution has yet to be found. Greatness comes to those who have the courage to pick up the Gauntlet and see it through. I would like to share a few final thoughts from Lasorda and Brandeis (respectively): “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination” … “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”


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