The impossibility of conventional wisdom

Give it up for Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings. He had an incredible year, finishing the regular season just nine yards short of the single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson since 1984. A remarkable feat, punctuated by the fact that it was on the heels of reconstructive knee surgery to repair damage inflicted on him at the end of last season.

His performance was nothing short of inspiring. Not just for football fans, but for all of us pursuing a dream.

Few would have thought Adrian would be chasing Eric Dickerson’s record this year. Conventional wisdom pronounces it to be impossible.

Yet, Adrian didn’t listen to conventional wisdom. He trained as if it were possible.

When you think about your own dream, does it seem impossible too? Are you dismissing it because of conventional wisdom, setting it aside until you have more time, more money, more whatever?

In the movie, The Edge, three men remarkably escape a crash landing in the Alaskan wilderness, only to find themselves facing an even bigger challenge. In freezing temperatures, off-course, without a map, food or shelter, their only chance of survival is to quickly find their way back to civilization. The odds were stacked against them.

When a grizzly bear attacked and killed one of the men, the already slim odds of their survival dropped precipitously. That’s when the character of the two remaining men, the billionaire Charles Morse played by Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin’s character, fashion photographer Bob Green, became most clear.

Charles, inspired by stories he read of Indian and African hunters, suggests killing the bear with hand-made spears. Bob, succumbing to conventional wisdom, responds “We can’t kill the bear, Charles.”

In perhaps the most memorable scene of the movie, Charles emphatically repeats his conviction, “What one man can do, another can do,” until Bob began to believe as well.

Adrian Peterson’s performance was inspiring not just because it was a terrific achievement, but because he demonstrated what it’s like to live inspired by another’s accomplishments: Eric Dickerson’s.

That inspiration isn’t just for a season. Adrian already said he’ll be back next year to take another crack at that record. And because of his inspiring performance this year, who would doubt him now?

Who’s life inspires you to do what seems conventionally impossible?

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