The Difference Between Impossible and I’m Possible
by Ben Campen
November 29, 2016
As a businessman who’s been around the block a time or two, I have a fondness for these words: “it can’t be done.” Generally when I hear that - I know I’m on to something big.
Case in point: in the mid 1970’s, I decided to try a different way of selling real estate in the Gainesville area: real estate auctions. I’d just held a large real estate auction in another part of Florida that was highly successful and brought in more than the seller was expecting. With that success under my belt, why not do it in Gainesville?
When I began advertising the concept to area realtors, I was approached by a respected Gainesville realtor who said, “I see you going to try and sell real estate at auction and I thought I’d tell you that it won’t work in this part of the country. It may work in other parts, but it can’t be done here. So, you’re wasting your time. Just thought I’d let you know.”
This realtor didn’t know my mantra of: the only difference between impossible and I’m possible is an apostrophe! He had no idea of all the impossible things I’d already done.
He didn’t know that I’d grown up working hard for everything I got. We were poor, so my childhood away from school was spent picking watermelons, working the bean barn, working on a chicken farm, pumping gas, and doing various odd jobs. In order to have lunch at school, I cleaned the cafeteria! (There was no free lunch program in my day.)
He didn’t know that I had already built a business that was supposed to be impossible. My auto auction in Albany was a highly successful enterprise that had taken my family to the next level. Prior to opening that business, a local car dealer told me that “six other people have tried to make an auto auction work here over the past six years, and all of them failed; it can’t be done.”
He also didn’t know that a few weeks prior to his ‘advice’ I had held a very successful real estate auction in Ponce Inlet, FL. Even though it was my FIRST real estate auction, I had put my heart and soul into making sure that I did everything in my power to do a great job for my client. After this auction I knew I wanted to be of service to others by selling their real estate at auction. Sure, it was un-conventional, but that would differentiate me from all the other real estate brokers.
When I started this new way of selling property in the Gainesville area, I knew this concept was looked at very cautiously by prospective sellers and most were not use to the idea and slow to buy-in. To show the world just what the auction process would do, I bought a 200 acre farm, divided it up and auctioned it off. When all was said and done, I’d doubled my investment.
With this outcome, this auction process caught on. Over the last 30 years, I have auctioned thousands of properties amounting to tens of millions in sales doing something that a well-intentioned and seasoned real estate broker said wouldn’t work.
So why do some people think or say “it can’t be done”? Is it because in a very basic way, they fear change, the unknown? Could it be they fear trying something new and want to maintain the status quo? Or, maybe they have a fear that you might accomplish something they wish they had the gumption to try. I suggest you consider this: these impossible ideas don’t limit us – they expand our opportunities, if we will open up to them!
This week, my challenge to you is to think of those people who have done things that others said couldn’t be done. Think of the Wright Brothers assembling their impossible aircraft in the back of a bicycle shop. Think of Henry Ford and his crazy goal of making affordable automobiles for the masses. Think of Steve Jobs combining a computer and the phone to make a device that might be in your hands right now.
You, and YOU alone, determine whether or not something can be done! I encourage you to go for it!
When someone tells you that “it can’t be done” just remember that only an apostrophe is the difference between impossible and I’m possible!