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Are You A World-Class
by Chris Small
Contemplating the new century, my mind wandered back to
the turn of the last century. I thought about some of the great men and women
who made a profound impact on society by putting their dreams into action. I
think you can observe a lot about the future from
looking at the past.
Let's step BACK 100 years (or thereabouts) and reflect
on the accomplishments of those who dared to dream. Most of these dreamers had
to overcome incredible obstacles before their ideas would make it to the world
stage. But each and every one of these people have had
an affect on your daily life.
Most famous people are known for just one great feat or
discovery. Not so with Thomas Edison. He is personally
responsible for over 1,000 patented inventions. Many of those
discoveries have evolved into products that we take for granted as a part of
our everyday lives. The most famous of course, is the
incandescent light bulb. This discovery/invention required 10,000
recorded experiments before Edison could use it.
Edison liked to make bold statements about his plans and
then fulfill the statement. His belief in himself was so strong that he
publicly promised a minor invention every 10 days and a major "big
trick" item every 6 months. History records that he lived up to his word.
Committed to an
Guglielmo Marconi believed that messages could be sent
through the air. This idea at the time was so absurd to most people that at
one point his friends had him committed to an asylum. His
vision was clear enough, and strong enough to withstand the ridicule and
embarrassment. He KNEW that it
could be done. On Dec 12, 1901 he finally was able to prove it to the
world. He had a telegrapher tap the letter "S" from Cornwall
England. Meanwhile, Marconi was 2700 kilometers away in St John's Newfoundland
with his new receiver and kite antenna. With the success of this experiment
Radio and later TV were born.
Nobody Showed Up
Orville and Wilbur Wright dreamed of being able to soar
above the earth like the birds. The closest way to achieve this at the time
was with an air balloon. On Dec 17, 1903 they demonstrated their heavier than
air flying machine at Kitty Hawk NC. You would expect there to be a lot of
interest from the press and general public for such a momentous occasion.
"Not many were willing to face the rigors of a cold December wind in
order to see another flying machine not fly," the Wrights later recalled.
But it did fly, and there were enough spectators
watching to get the word out to the world. A new
industry was born.
Emmeline Pankhurst believed that
women should be treated and respected as equals to men. In 1903 she
founded The Women's Social and Political Union. Mrs. Pankhurst had
to endure being arrested and jailed several times. While in jail, she
often would go on hunger strikes to further her ideals.
Her big dream was finally realized in 1928 when women in
Britain were granted full voting rights. A few weeks later, on June 14th, she
died. Her dream however, lives on. While there is still much room for
improvement, women's rights have come a long way, thanks in large part to
From a Nobody to
a Nobel Prize Winner
Marie Curie overcame the stigma of being a woman in a
field (science) which was almost exclusively populated by men. Not only did Madame
Curie excel at her chosen profession but she will always be remembered
as the person who discovered radiation and thus
x-rays. She also enjoyed the honor of being the first women to receive a Nobel
Prize in 1903, and again in 1911.
Before Belting the Earth
In 1896 an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company
in Detroit, built his own self-propelled, gasoline powered vehicle - the
Quadricycle. It wasn't the first one, but it was the one that inspired
Henry Ford to dream about 'belting the earth' with
automobiles. He eventually left his job with Edison and attempted to
establish an automobile manufacturing plant.
In 1903, after two previously unsuccessful attempts, he
formed The Ford Motor company. In 1908, the first Model T rolled off his
assembly lines. By 1918, half of all cars in America
were Model T's.
We could go on and on about ordinary people who would
not accept mediocrity and instead will be written about for hundreds of years.
I would love to talk with you about Andrew Carnegie,
Napoleon Hill, Albert Einstein, Amelia Erhart, Alexander Graham Bell, George
Eastman and many, many others who acted on their dreams. The ideas that
they brought forth are a big part of modern day life for us.
Each of them all started with a dream that consumed them
and would not let go. Most of us at some time have big dreams, but allow them
to dissipate. Circumstances and life in general tend to get in the way.
You may not have the vision of Thomas Edison, but your
Dreams and goals can still impact the people around you. Let's
resolve to dream BIG dreams and to take big action
towards their fulfillment.
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