Never Say Never

Vince Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest American football coach of all time. When he took over the Packers in 1958, they were fresh off a dreadful 1-10-1 record. Lombardi then coached the team for nine seasons. During that time, the Packers won five NFL championships, including three in a row. He left the team with one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history.

Yet oddly enough, despite the introduction, this entry is not about Vince Lombardi or NFL football. It is however about one of the many insightful quotes that Lombardi left behind.

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”

Egyptian table tennis player Ibrahim Elhoseny is one person who clearly lives by these words. The brief video below shows him competing in the 2011 African Championships. What’s both unusual and amazing about Elhoseny is that he competes in table tennis without hands or arms. He holds the paddle in his mouth and competes against able-bodied athletes.

When I first heard about Elhoseny, I couldn’t fathom how he played without arms. I had to see the video to believe it. To my surprise, he doesn’t just play table tennis, he appears to be quite good.

I can only imagine what the naysayers said to him when he first put a paddle in his mouth. Surely, many thought it was impossible for him to compete. Fortunately, Elhoseny did not listen to the doubters and instead believed in the impossible. Look at him now.

As a coach, there is nothing better than working with an athlete like Elhoseny who believes in the impossible. Records are rarely broken by athletes who doubt themselves. The great ones are usually those who believe they can do what no one else has done. And even if they are wrong, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they won’t achieve the impossible, but they’ll probably achieve more than they would have otherwise.

There are obviously different formulas for success, but a combination of dreaming big, believing in yourself, and working your ass off usually leads to worthwhile results.

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