by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

Have you ever considered yourself to be like Leonardo? You know — the famous Italian Renaissance artist and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci. Being like Leonardo means you’re on a lifelong quest to find answers to all your questions.

Do you believe dreams can be turned into realities? Do you, like Leonardo, believe anything is possible? At any age, I might add.

In other words, are you a possibility thinker?

Recently, I’ve been trying to convince my husband that he needs to become a possibility thinker. In his case, he’s been ranching and raising coastal hay for many years. With two severe droughts back to back, it now seems we may need to explore other avenues for income. This feels difficult since it requires branching out from what is familiar. But there are surely other possibilities if we can just move ourselves into the mode of possibility thinking.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves, “Where’s our childlike spirit with that unstoppable and boundless curiosity?” I don’t think it’s lost. I think it’s just been covered up with the rigidity, and perhaps comfort, of routine.

I think fear of failure often holds us back from trying something new. Or other fears grip us, such as fear of change or fear of the unknown. I can think of many times when fear of failure paralyzed my actions.

In elementary school, when softball was the sport of the day, I kept sneaking to the end of the line to avoid going to bat. In high school, I never auditioned for parts in school musical productions. In college, I wouldn’t raise my hand and tried to avoid eye contact with professors during class discussions. Since college, I haven’t applied or submitted my resume for some of the job opportunities that have come my way.

I’ve wondered how often fear of failure held me back and made me avoid new situations and experiences. Or how often fear of failure kept me from reaching my full potential and stopped me from even trying to accomplish my dreams.

I’m reminded of an old saying, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”

If you’ve been reading my columns, you know that I’m a Star Wars movie fan. An incident in the 1980 Star Wars episode, “The Empire Strikes Back,” illustrates the idea of possibility thinking.

When asked to raise his sunken star fighter from the Dagobah swamps, Luke Skywalker responded he would try. “No,” scolded Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try.” But Luke was not certain the Force could lift such a massive object. And indeed, he failed.

Yet Yoda, using the Force, did lift the x-wing fighter and place it on dry land. Luke exclaimed, “I don’t believe it.” And Yoda said, “That is why you fail.” Or as Mary Baker Eddy might explain it, “It is insincerity and a half-persuaded faith that fail to succeed and fall to the earth.”

Christ Jesus taught us much about the need for faith. One time his disciples failed to heal a child and brought the boy to Jesus who then healed him. The disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal him. And Jesus told them because of their “unbelief.”

Jesus said we could “move mountains” if only we had faith. And that we only needed faith as big as a “grain of mustard seed.” He assured us that nothing would be impossible if only we had a little bit of faith.

The power in possibility thinking is becoming clearer. A possibility thinker is one who has faith that anything truly is possible. Who doesn’t let fear of failure stop them from taking action or from trying something new and different from anything they have done before.

A possibility thinker dares to imagine. He doesn’t let perceived limitations, such as age — or even drought — stand in his way. He doesn’t allow past failures to halt present actions. He doesn’t view failures as mistakes but rather lessons learned. So, he continues moving forward on his life journey. He never gets stuck in idle and overcome with regrets.

A possibility thinker is persistent, confident, determined and optimistic. She doesn’t let discouragement take hold. She enjoys new challenges. She has faith that there is a solution — and that she need only be committed to its pursuit.

Leonardo Da Vinci was clearly a possibility thinker. He imagined the possibility of flying machines, armored tanks, shoes that could walk on water and plastic — centuries before these possibilities became realities. He never gave up his search for solutions, and he never stopped trying to make his dreams into realities. His desire to learn was tireless and endless. Failures merely told him to take a new approach.

My husband and I are not yet sure what we’ll be doing in the future. But I think we’re ready to put fears of uncertainty and age behind us to consider the infinite possibilities — and be like Leonardo!