More time than I can remember ago, I walked through the famous glass doors of Saatchi and Saatchi at 80 Charlotte Street in London as a new grad trainee. Now it is true to say that Saatchis in those days was famous for many things, including trying to buy the Midland Bank. But mainly, the Agency made huge, memorable, incredible ads that many in my generation will still remember today. They weren’t the only Agency to make great ads, but certainly the scale and audacity of their creativity was right out there.
Why was that? In those first few weeks, we were given a copy of the Christopher Logue poem ‘Come to the Edge’. And we were told to remember that ‘Nothing is impossible’.
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and we pushed,
And they flew.
My copy was pinned up above my desk, and perhaps you might think that’s a bit keen, but I really believed that I could probably achieve just about anything in that environment, and I wasn’t the only one. Of course, not all jobs are like that. Being told by your employer that Nothing is Impossible is very beguiling, but the reality is that most things are not possible in organisations, no matter how creative and forward thinking they are. In fact, it is only when you start to make your own decisions that you are able to give yourself permission.
That poem, whilst dog-eared has stayed with me since. It has helped me define my attitude to risk and to make decisions that felt almost foolhardy at the time. Like choosing to leave a great job and step out, over the edge, to something else. The more that I speak to people who are forging their own way in life, the more that I have come to understand that it is at precisely the moment when you can’t imagine yourself doing something that you realize that ‘Nothing is impossible’.