Make the Impossible Possible

One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary

This inspirational book showcases the lessons learned by Bill Strickland as he worked with disadvantaged children and adults in Pittsburgh, Penn., through the jobs training center and community arts program he founded. “I’m not a businessman at all,” Strickland writes. “…my mission is to turn people’s lives around.” This book will tell you how, in 200 highly readable pages. 

204 pages. ©2009.
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Reader Reviews for this Book

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Review posted September 12, 2017


This is Not just about starting a non-profit, t's about putting your dreams into reality.Made me want to go to Pittsburgh and see what this man has built.


Review posted August 16, 2017


A great quick read regarding perseverance and determination. Go the distance, anything is possible. Don't limit yourself, outdo your limits!

Suz Ybarra

Review posted June 22, 2017


Wow! So riveting I read for 4 1/2 hours straight, nearly finishing the book. So inspiring, I can say there is a good thing about my number of work hours/week recently being cut in half.... now I can focus on finding my mission in life ... that intersection between my heart's deep gladness and the world's deep hunger. (Frederick Buechner's words, not mine.)


Review posted June 21, 2017


The book was well written and motivational. I enjoyed the way he articulated his beliefs. Some of his quotes really had me deep thinking. Reading books like this always make me feel inspirational and this one was no exception.


Review posted June 8, 2017


This book was extraordinary. It stretches you to do more and make those dreams become a reality. Good read.


Review posted June 1, 2017


An interesting look at how an impactful non-profit came into being.

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Review posted February 22, 2017


I loved this book it has so much definition in helping others.


Review posted February 17, 2017


Everyone has a vision for something they're supposed to do, but very few are actually willing to pay the price, persevere and ultimately see something "impossible" happen. Good insight by an individual who didn't give up each time a new vision was given to him no matter how crazy or unlikely the chance of success appeared to be. Will inspire others to keep pressing on no matter what.


Review posted February 6, 2017


Very engaging material, good inspirational advice. Makes the reader feel they can accomplish their goals too.


Review posted December 4, 2016


More than merely a story about how a poor fellow from a suburb of Pittsburgh picking himself up from poverty and hopelessness. But that is what he did. Bill Strickland presents a road map for others to follow his footsteps out of despair and meaningless. This is as much a how to book as it is how it was.


Review posted August 13, 2016


I got this book because I'm from Pittsburgh and I was excited to see a book by and about someone's inspiring work in Pittsburgh. I found Strickland's book, a richly layered story about art, ceramics, community development, interspersed with philosophy on life/passion/meaning, to be a great read. It left me thinking, wondering, and excited to visit! I also felt a little overwhelmed by all that Strickland has managed to do, making it sound as if anyone could--which, maybe, is true. I think the principles of the Manchester Bidwell job training/arts center are rad and should be used in other communities and community program development (instead of the "poverty center" type models he talks about). I love the idea that creating beautiful, high-class spaces can help invite people to feel a sense of goodness and meaning in life. While I don't agree with Strickland on every note, this is a great book for folks working in the arts and/or involved in community development or urban planning. Thank you, Ford!


Review posted June 19, 2016


An excellent book to inspire and keep you inspired on your journey to do something extraordinary.


Review posted May 25, 2016


The first half of this book was good. After that, it started to drag on, and lost its edge. It would have been nice to have a bit more "here's how you can do it, too!"

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Review posted May 25, 2016


While I appreciated Bill Strickland's dynamic storytelling, it was hard to distill any concrete takeaways that I could apply to my organization (or any organization). Most of his success came from acting on gut feelings and knowing the right people. I think his book is inspiring because of the scope of his goals and the range of his accomplishments, but shouldn't be read by anyone seeking a step-by-step approach to founding and growing a nonprofit organization.


Review posted May 11, 2016


Bill Strickland’s journey from growing up in a Pittsburg ghetto to CEO of Manchester Bidwell is amazing and inspiring. He was driven by his passion, rather than ambition, and was able to accomplish all that he did by following his dreams. The way he developed the Maxwell Bidwell Training Center sounded fluid and organic. It grew out of his passion to provide a high quality educational experience for even the poorest of students. His love for ceramics, flying, jazz, art, light, architecture, and fine food all played into the success of his programs. Through his passions he connected with people who also shared his desire to help those living in poverty. Even after he had built a highly successful training center he wasn’t done. He now travels the country sharing slides and his story, inspiring other communities to start their own version of Manchester Bidwell. Of the five leadership books I’ve read from the Ford Foundation booklist, Make the Impossible Possible is my favorite. From a distance it would be easy to assume Mr. Strickland had a lot of luck, as well as an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. But as the book unfolds it becomes apparent that he believes in his dreams and is willing to risk embarrassment and rejection to share them with others. That makes him a great role model.


Review posted April 7, 2016


Very inspirational - all dreams are possible with the right attitude and tools!


Review posted March 16, 2016




Review posted March 11, 2016


Only complaint was that when the book arrived, it was waterlogged due to poor delivery conditions. Otherwise a phenomenal read!


Review posted February 13, 2016


Excellent read, very inspiring and so true. We all have choices in life and cn have dreams and goals. Definitely a must read. Thank you!

Lew Younger

Review posted December 5, 2015


"sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had scaled back my dreams, tried to be more practical, and aimed for more conventional goals......" While Bill Strickland gives us a chronology of his life with its struggles and successes, he also allows us to see his visions before they become reality. He allows us into the network behind the successes. Mr. Strickland provides a blueprint for achievement that is easily followed. When I read a book I look for the one concept that I can give to my kids to apply to their lives. Mr Stricklands advice, "Do not limit yourself to the possible." Sums it up best.


Review posted November 22, 2015


An inspirational adventure that sparks motivation. This book is an easy read and makes a great gift for anyone needing a little nudge to go after their goals.

Jackie LaBonte

Review posted November 3, 2015


I enjoyed Bill Strickland's story and found it inspiring enough to share his concepts with young folks here at the high school. A meaningful life is within everyone's reach by building on the dreams you choose to follow and the values and passions you share...Paying attention to what excites you is so important and discovering the truth about yourself!!!

Josephy Center

Review posted November 2, 2015


I loved this book! The story was particularly sensitive to what we are doing so it was very inspiring and will help us achieve some goals that I weren't sure were possible until reading this. It also teaches a great lesson about how our environments need to feel safe in order for us to bloom.

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Review posted September 25, 2015


This story is very inspiring and informative, he gives many examples from his own life as well as others and brings a great deal of hope.


Review posted September 9, 2015


This book was very inspiring and provided an interesting case study. I loved reading about how a program grew and flourished from the ground up. It did make me feel that anything can indeed be possible.


Review posted September 7, 2015


Great way of thinking to achieve greater results. Impressive action that made a difference.


Review posted September 1, 2015


This book was completely engaging, making it a quick read and hard to put down. I hadn't known what to expect but the story and the lessons of life that came along the way was great. I won't soon forget that 'art is a bridge' nor that heros inspire us, such as MLK did for the author. When we have somebody to look up to, we are by default looking up and looking to achieve with our lives. As the author shares, your passions are your most valuable tools (rather than money or position in life as you are getting started) so set out to do what you need to do, what you are compelled to do. If you change the world, accept it with humility and grace and appreciation because no matter what, you will surely change the world for somebody, a few, a lot, and definitely yourself. All in all, an inspiring story and a good read.

Darcy Bedortha

Review posted August 26, 2015


"Make the Impossible Possible" is an excellent inspiration written by someone who has walked the path. The insight and understanding author Bill Strickland brings to the work is both concrete and a "get out of the box" motivation to dream the big dreams. For those whose life work is wrapped up in creating real social change, who may be seeking reassurance that it matters, and that it is possible, this is the book. Highly recommend for young social justice activists and veterans of the struggle alike.


Review posted August 2, 2015


Make the Impossible Possible is an inspiring book. I like how the author sees the heart and potential of the students coming into his studio. He gives the students respect and space. This enables the students to take the time they need to build relationships and succeed. He tells you how to spot newly discovered passions and give them attention. The story about how he became a pilot encouraged me to take more risks and try things I am interested in. It helps you get out of a rut and live. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to find deeper fulfillment in life.


Review posted July 24, 2015


Excellent book!

Richard LaPlante

Review posted July 16, 2015


This is an amazing story that is a must read. If you ever needed inspiration to do something in your community no matter how small or troubled your community may be this story will give you the heart, drive and passion to do things you never thought possible of yourself or your community. I think the experiences of this man and his vision, dreams and story have the possibility of changing our education system as we know it today. If you have a heart and desire to change lives I believe this book is packed with living examples and tools to equip you that you could spend a life time developing.


Review posted July 15, 2015


I enjoyed reading this book. Bill Strickland told how he created Manchester Bidwell, a community arts-education and job training center in Pittsburgh. All of his contacts were amazing. He had vision and timing to make all of this work. He also told ways to succeed in trying to build this center and help in creating similar opportunities in other cities.


Review posted July 6, 2015


Really awesome book, thank you!


Review posted June 29, 2015


The book took a personal look at the life of an dreamer. The author illustrates the ability to change your circumstances and make extraordinary dreams come true.


Review posted June 13, 2015


Very good insight Great book


Review posted June 12, 2015


This book was one of the best inspirational and informative book about creating successful vocational training programs that I have read. I am going to take it a step further and tour the Manchester Bidwell Training Center. Thank you for making this learning opportunity possible. Cynthia


Review posted June 9, 2015


Strickland uses imagery and story-telling to develop this inspiring book. He motivates and encourages the reader to build leadership. Personally the last chapter sums up the entire book, and was my favorite. It's title is 'Purpose' and goes to explain that individuals do not have to be rich or famous to make a difference. He persuades us to believe in ourselves and to reach for the highest level of success, because as he describes, it is within all of us, we just have to recognize that it's there.


Review posted June 2, 2015


inspirational in helping people gain the attitude to reach beyond what they might consider limits and barriers. Helpful for people working with clients who have disadvantages and have difficulty believing change and progress are possible.


Review posted May 30, 2015


This book is excellent read:) very inspiring.. Go after your dreams!!!

Susan S. Dubnow

Review posted May 30, 2015


Bill Strickland reveals through his memoir how he went from a very poor ghetto child to an international success by following his passion to share the "Jazz" with others.


Review posted May 27, 2015


This book reinforces the meaning of success that, ideally, people would adopt. A truly inspiring writer with a message the world needs to hear.


Review posted May 23, 2015


Relationships are important in our world. One person who decides to change the world, CAN! Bill Strickland inspires me to be who I was created to be. He shows in his book that I can be the change maker in my community. "Play out my Dreams" was a statement in the book. As an educator and athlete, this statement is reminds inspires me to learn to play and then play. Playing in the game is much more fun than sitting in the stands or on the the bench.


Review posted May 21, 2015


Bill Strickland's mission is not necessarily about bringing the arts or economic development to a poverty-stricken area. He focuses on providing a channel through which the human spirit can heal and blossom, despite the external circumstances. By demonstrating beauty and creating an atmosphere of higher expectation, the Manchester Bidwell center operates as a space for personal development and natural expression. Beyond faith in the possibilities of his community, Bill Strickland describes how PERSISTENCE is so important to the realization and growth of an idea. Dozens of roadblocks along the way, with plenty of reasons to quit especially at those early stages. Manchester's economic poverty statistics are similar to those of many of the small towns surrounding Roseburg, hovering around 70%. But beyond the income statistics, the more severe form of poverty is the sense that there are no options. Without a window to the amazing possibilities of what can be created even in a rural setting, the expectation of improvement disappears and morphs into ennui. With the assistance of technology and examples like Manchester Bidwell, perhaps local entrepreneurs and enlightened mentors in Douglas County can help build that window for those who are hoping there is still something better out there, right here.


Review posted May 16, 2015


I read this book in an afternoon. Once I opened the book, I couldn't put it down. Once I finished it, I couldn't wait to put it into action. While the concepts such as swing and flow are not new, the simple inspiration I got from the story is invigorating. I hope to make myself as open to opportunity as Bill Strickland is.


Review posted April 30, 2015


What Bill did, starting with a pottery studio in a poor neighbor to creating a job training and community arts program for thousand, was inspiring. It is an interesting read. Yet, his trying to turn his story into a "sort of" self-help book, just didn't work for me. Great story, some wonderful insights, and a quick read.


Review posted April 30, 2015


Great Story . encouraging read!! enjoyed it


Review posted April 27, 2015


This isn't the kind of book that really has ideas you can use; it's more of an inspirational book. The main idea is that to achieve true success, you need to follow your passion and be absolutely committed to doing something that has real meaning to you, rather than accept conventional wisdom and the limits it puts on your dreams and aspirations.