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


Review posted June 14, 2022


Great book, written on the value of using hope to create and build a life one desires. Valuable for anybody wanting to transform their life, or help build a more hope filled community.

Kate A. Wilkinson

Review posted May 17, 2022


Fantastic and inspirring read!


Review posted June 1, 2021


Great addition for the resource library. A good refresher geared towards positive motivation.


Review posted May 28, 2021


This book is chalk full of common sense approaches to help motivate team members. Overcoming obstacles and developing the correct mindset is important for overcoming roadblocks and for attaining one's goals. I would recommend this book. A great reference and motivational book to keep on your shelves. Thank you.


Review posted February 23, 2021


The author really helps people think of ways to help the community from the ground up. Very inspiring.


Review posted February 18, 2021


This book didn't grab my attention as I thought it would, unfortunately.


Review posted January 7, 2021


Make the Impossible Possible is inspiring on an individual and community level. The book challenges us to look at what we truly want and to believe that it's possible to achieve it. I will be sharing this book with many people in my life!


Review posted September 27, 2020


This book is an inspiring read! I loved reading about Bill’s story and his journey in establishing an incredible non-profit, which is different from many other non-profits. The book also makes you think about the ways you can unleash your own passions in your life.


Review posted August 31, 2020


A good read, both for those just embarking on their dreams and also for people in mid- to late-career who are growing "stale." Succinct and well-written, easy to pick up and read on the go.


Review posted August 21, 2020


This book is amazing and super inspiring. It makes you want to step out of your box and make changes in your life to make a better world for all.


Review posted June 1, 2020


This book wasn't so much for me. It told me how he was able to be self-sufficient and grow and help others along the way. However, it was harder for me to follow along with it. I do agree that it's very well written and great read.


Review posted March 17, 2020


This book took me captive in everyway. I had goose bumps every other page and cried at least once per chapter. This is by far one of the most inspiring books that I have ever read and it gave me such an amazing outlook on how our mindsets affect our life.


Review posted February 12, 2020


I loved this book! Very inspirational! I read it quickly as it was told in an easy to follow format. His life story is fascinating. It made me feel as if anything is possible.


Review posted December 31, 2019


This was a very inspiring book about one man’s quest to leave the world a better place than he found it. It calls for everyone to find something to do to make a difference by being who you are.


Review posted December 31, 2019


This book is inspirational and a joy to read. Whether you work in social services or not, this book is a wonderful story filled with hope and the possibility of making your dreams come true. It is a story about hard work that pays off and of helping lift others up and out of their circumstances. I really enjoyed it!

Barbara Steinberg

Review posted October 1, 2019


An amazing story of perseverance. Inspiring to read as an educator.


Review posted September 17, 2019


Great read


Review posted September 17, 2019


It was a great book!


Review posted August 22, 2019


Good read


Review posted August 12, 2019


This is a very inspirational book and meaningful for me. One of my favorites by far!


Review posted June 3, 2019


This book speaks truth and revelation.... What an extraordinary individual Bill Strickland is.... may we ALL find our 'swing' in our lifetime. As he states, every human heart requires: Beauty, order, purpose and opportunity - the things that give us a meaningful human existence." One of my favorite reads to date!


Review posted May 29, 2019




Review posted April 26, 2019


Genius. Passionate and powerful. Read this.

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Review posted April 16, 2019


Very inspirational nourishment for the spirit. The author uplifts the reader and the reader’s dreams with reminders and lessons to stay passionate, seek new perspectives, and trust our purpose. Easy to read, he offers critical, intuitive points that we sometimes miss and forget about living a quality life right now.


Review posted March 27, 2019


Excellent book and very inspiring - a great read for a young adult.


Review posted February 22, 2019


I loved this book. The offer gave evidence to may assumptions that I believe. I do believe that if children have exposure to art they emulate what they see.


Review posted February 20, 2019


Really enjoyable and inspiring read.

Niki Price

Review posted February 11, 2019


Really enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure that it felt relevant to my organization, where our problems don't seem quite as dire. Do you need to make your situation feel "impossible" before you see this kind of success? Thanks for the book.


Review posted January 29, 2019


Great memoir/self help book. This book helped me to take the time to notice what I'm personally passionate about rather than what I am expected to be passionate about from others.


Review posted January 29, 2019


This was a great read.


Review posted January 5, 2019


Bill Strickland has spend the past thirty years transforming the lives of thousands of people through Manchester Bidwell, the jobs training center and community arts program he founded in Pittsburgh. Working with corporations, community leaders, and schools, he and his staff strive to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities and tools they need to envision and build a better, brighter future. In Make the Impossible Possible, Bill Strickland shows how each of us, by adopting the attitudes and beliefs he has lived by every day, can reach our fullest potential and achieve the impossible in our lives and careers--and perhaps change the world a little in the process. Through lessons from Strickland's own life experiences and those of countless others who have overcome challenging circumstances and turned their lives around, Make the Impossible Possible teaches us how to build on our passions and strengths, dream bigger and set the bar higher, achieve meaningful success, and inspire the lives of others.

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Review posted January 4, 2019


Bill Strickland is amazingly accomplished and tells his story in such a compelling way. I am humbled an inspired by this book.

Lyle C Miller

Review posted January 3, 2019


Very uplifting. The author has given a marvelous account of his adventures and suggests actions to be taken to be successful


Review posted January 2, 2019


Inspiring. I am a Head Start Director in Eastern Region. I found the themes of this book relevant to my work.


Review posted December 23, 2018


As an art teacher, I can really relate to this story, but, its principles can be applied to people with a dream in other areas as well. The most amazing thing about Bill's success is that he helped so many kids achieve their dreams. 90% of the 1200 kids who use his art-education and job-training center each year get their high school diploma. 85% go on to college and 86% of the adult students find good skilled jobs after graduation.


Review posted December 22, 2018


This book is great for thoes in doubt about sucsses in ther life. This book shows anything can be achieved in your life,if you are determined.


Review posted December 18, 2018


This book detailed an incredible story of an idea that started as a seed and grew into a forest. Bill Strickland's thoughts on success are something that I will remember: "Success is something you assemble from components you discover in your soul and your imagination. Authentic success, the kind of success that will enrich your life and enlarge your spirit, the only kind of success that matters, comes from knowing and trusting the deepest aspirations of your heart. If you try to live that way, in harmony with the real needs of your spirit, then you can’t help but craft a life that will automatically make the world a better place for everyone who lives in it, and, incidentally, you will dramatically increase your chances for success on all levels." I enjoyed this book and feel inspired to live an authentic life and work hard for a good life instead of settling for a lukewarm experience.


Review posted November 14, 2018


Make the Impossible Possible is not a typical inspirational book. Strickland's story of his journey from the Pittsburgh ghetto to being the young CEO of an arts/career training institution in his old neighborhood is inspirational. I found that the book was a true celebration of humans and the human spirit and courage as well as the need to push forward, to do better, to lead a life that you know can be achieved if you believe in your own strengths and perserverance. The book reminds the reader that by aspiring to respect not only others but the process of success that it will lead to success. The book held my attention. I did not feel as if it was a self-help book as much as I was partaking in his journey and in a sense proud of the accomplishments he was making from Ghetto to success in many forms.


Review posted November 6, 2018


I enjoyed this book. Very interesting and a quick read. I waited until I was traveling to read it. I was not disappointed.

onalee Mansor

Review posted October 14, 2018


Mr. Strickland's ability to see the potential in others and to inspire them to achieve that potential is inspiring. His techniques are very down to earth, sensible, and most importantly....they work. This book demonstrated to me how I could influence and inspire those families I work with now, and made me realize the long term effects for these families as well as my community.


Review posted September 17, 2018


Great book! Makes you want to follow your dreams.


Review posted September 7, 2018


In an accessible manner, Bill Strickland tells his story about following his passion, building a satisfying life. Inspired by Frank Ross, a high school art teacher, Strickland discovered his love of jazz and ceramics. Bill attended college to become a history teacher and along the way found that his real passion is for art and for helping people. Motivated by his love for beauty, art, jazz, and people, Bill eventually began the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, a program for children in the neighborhood whose purpose was to enrich their lives through ceramics and hope. Bills story is one of perseverance, hope, desire, dreams, and love. Making the Impossible Possible is not a book about how to get rich using a formula, but rather a book written to help you find your passion and purpose and to give those a reach that will turn your dreams into reality. In doing so, Strickland would contend, you will also live the life you are meant to live, completely satisfying and fulfilling. Throughout the book, Strickland tells the stories of connections formed and alliances forged. Strickland is unique in that he is not telling the story to fill his pockets, but rather to enrich the lives of others. He is a man whose life is all about bringing hope to others.


Review posted August 17, 2018


This was an inspiring life story. Would have liked more emphasis on applicability to reader's life.


Review posted August 7, 2018


Great read! Very inspiring:)


Review posted May 3, 2018


Young man discovered pottery and through his skills as a teacher and using his hands, found both good skills that he uses when he dreams big. He learned to follow his passion, think of ways he could give back that still fit with his own human needs to create. Problems are tackled with simple solutions, and the funding falls into place because he could Articulate his Dream and what would change if working together they achieved it. He was able to excite others in his dream and make them reality. Great example of leadership possible by any of us.


Review posted April 20, 2018


I absolutely loved reading this book and the experience of a young man who believed in, had a passion for, and followed his dreams throughout his life. What an example of courage and faith and seeing that good things come to pass and many others come forward at the time needed to help fulfill those dreams. I believe he was helped by God because he wanted to bless others throughout his community. He loved seeing others lifted to a higher and more fulfilling way of life. To remember all the wonderful experiences he had and how one man with a passion and dream and others who also believed, I went to the store after I finished reading the book and purchased an "orchid". Thank you for the generous community reading program! I am excited to order my second book! May all of you be blessed by God for your efforts to bless others!


Review posted April 8, 2018


I did like that the book allows you to take the information and apply it to a variety of places in your life. Very universal content.


Review posted March 29, 2018


This book was very interesting and inspired me to truly believe in myself and inspire others.


Review posted March 27, 2018


This book is incredible. Even half way through, I knew it would become one of my new favorite books.


Review posted February 21, 2018


I loved this book! It was very inspiring. Its proof that one person, with a dream, can make incredible things happen in their own community.


Review posted February 20, 2018


This book is fantastic. I was inspired to stop listening so much to the pragmatic voice in my head that is so quick to shoot down ideas and instead allow myself of all that might be possible if we only have the courage to pursue our passions. Read 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.