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Beating the Odds

Flying Against Conventional Wisdom

Today I’m headed to Santa Clara, Calif., to attend a coaching clinic. I’m excited not only about learning more, but about the trip itself. After all these years, travel by air remains a source of awe.

It was in the month of December in 1903 when Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first controlled powered flight. Two points about their achievement can inspire competitors of any kind.

First, flying was supposed to be impossible. At least that’s what one newspaper article declared just a day or two before the brothers went out and did it. “If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance,” Orville Wright said. They literally flew in the face of conventional wisdom!

Second, not only was flying not impossible, but anyone could have done it. The Wright Brothers National Monument in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., makes this point. All the knowledge and materials needed for flight was available at the time. The only thing left was to actually invent the airplane. Wilbur and Orville did it.

Declared Orville: “Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”

So the choice is yours. You can look at a task and declare it impossible, or you can actually do it. Be inspired by the Wright Brothers’ work and persistence, not by their powers of forecast. Orville once said, “No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris.”

Thank goodness he was a better inventor than visionary!


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