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Are You A World-Class Dreamer?

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.

10,000 Failures precede Success

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 Asylum

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.

Jailed for Equality

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 Emmeline Pankhurst.

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.

Failed Twice 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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