Possibility Thinking versus Probability Thinking

man in a blue shirt and jeans sitting in a leather chair thinking - possibility thinking versus probability thinking blog by truby achievements

Last Updated on November 20, 2023 by Bill Truby

When people hear that they can’t lick their elbow – many try it. Some have even proven the “fact” wrong. There are YouTube videos of people with freakishly long (or some might say “wonderfully long”) tongues who have proven that licking your elbow is possible! However, when people hear, “You can’t survive a jump from a 10-story building” – no one goes out and tries THAT!

What’s the difference? The difference is in two types of thinking: “Possibility Thinking” and “Probability Thinking.” Licking your elbow MAY be possible, but surviving a 10-story jump is NOT probable.

Possibility Thinking believes that something IS possible, or that you can at least try to see if it MIGHT be possible.

But Probability Thinking goes with the stats, the research, or the outcome of a formula: 10 stories tall + my weight + the force of gravity = “Ain’t gonna make it!”

Probability Thinking has a clear and predictable outcome. Possibility Thinking goes beyond the probable and looks for the possible.

When Thomas Edison was busy with his exhausting attempts to find what element might work in the light bulb, I’m absolutely sure he didn’t fall into Probability Thinking. Instead, his Possibility Thinking mind caused him to acknowledge the probability factor, yet continue with possibility thinking anyway. You can almost hear his mind work after the hundreds of tries, “This next try probably won’t work either, but let’s give it a go anyway. It just might work. Something’s got to work!”

Now…there are times you want Probability Thinking. You don’t want a doctor prescribing a medication with the words, “Hey, try this. It’s a possibility that it might work!” No. You want the doctor using Probability Thinking. You want to know what the probability is that this medication will help.

Too much Probability Thinking can limit Possibility Thinking. And too much Possibility Thinking can be dangerous. This article is a quick reminder for you to think about how you are going to think before you think.

Anytime something is critical, use Probability Thinking. Don’t put you or anyone else at risk by “trying” something when the outcome is time sensitive, or if your health, life or relationship will be jeopardized if it doesn’t work. That’s the time for Probability Thinking. Go with what is likely to work.

But don’t limit yourself by Probability Thinking when it isn’t warranted. Thoughts like “I’ll probably fail,” or “This probably won’t work,” will only hinder your achievement. After all, if it’s possible for someone…it’s possible for you!


Bill Truby

Founder and President of Truby Achievements