The Difference Between Difficult and Impossible

Adrian S. Potter
3 min readFeb 23, 2024

Just a little bit of time and willpower.

Photo by Martin Wyall on Unsplash

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

Fridtjof Nansen was a Norwegian renowned for his achievements as an explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian. He gained international recognition for pioneering expeditions to the Arctic regions, including his attempt to reach the North Pole.

Nansen’s innovative use of sled dogs and groundbreaking theory on ocean currents significantly advanced polar exploration. Beyond exploration, he earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his humanitarian work in aid of displaced refugees after World War I. Nansen’s diplomatic efforts led to the creation of the “Nansen Passport,” aiding stateless refugees.

His multifaceted legacy embodies courage, scientific ingenuity, and a deep commitment to humanitarian causes, leaving an indelible mark on exploration, science, and global humanitarian efforts. Nansen shared this insightful quote –

“The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.

- which summarizes a reflective perspective on facing challenges. Let’s break it down.

The Difficult Takes a Little Time

This part suggests that challenges or tasks that are merely difficult are not insurmountable. They may require effort, patience, and time, but they are achievable with persistence and determination. It emphasizes that tackling demanding tasks often involves a process and cannot be rushed.

The Impossible Takes a Little Longer

Here, Nansen highlights the distinction between what is difficult and what is truly impossible. While difficult tasks require time and effort, the impossible ones may seem beyond reach initially. However, Nansen suggests that even seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome with persistence, innovation, and an unwavering belief in possibility. They might take longer, but they are not entirely unachievable.

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Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com