In the early 1900s, Samuel Pierpont Langley was working on inventing the first airplane. He was an American astronomer, physicist, inventor and aviation pioneer. At the same time, the Wright Brothers were also working on creating a flying machine. As you know, they are credited with inventing and flying the world’s first successful airplane.
In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” and his book Starting with Why, he discusses this race for flight. Langley seemed to have all the ingredients for success: He was well-connected, he was given a $50,000 grant from the U.S. War Department, and he hired a well-educated and talented team. The Wright Brothers, on the other hand, were unknown and unfunded, and they gained their mechanical knowledge from working in their bicycle shop. The Wrights faced failure after failure, and it was said they would take five sets of parts with them to every test.
The difference, Sinek said, was that the Wright Brothers were pursuing a dream with all their heart, overcoming obstacle after obstacle. They paid for their work from the proceeds of their retail store and were driven by the cause. They believed their invention would change the course of the world.
Langley’s motivation was fame and wealth, and he gave up on his work when he realized the Wright Brothers had beaten him to his goal. This proves he wasn’t in it for the right reason, Sinek said. Instead of quitting, he could have said, “That’s an amazing discovery, and I will improve upon it.” Just look at what’s happening with today’s private aerospace companies in Brevard County.
The story of the Wright Brothers is an example of success focused on the “why.” Some call it passion, others call it vision — but the Wright Brothers were clear on what they set out to do, and they persevered.
Long ago, I was told to “Act ‘as if’ and you will become ‘as if.’” I didn’t understand this at first because it sounded as if you should pretend you’re something you’re not. But over the years, I’ve come to perceive this to mean we should begin with the end in mind. When the vision is clear, and you put forth the effort, you don’t get stuck figuring out all the details of each step along the way. Those will work themselves out.
I took some time off with my husband last month to travel to Maine. Being a native Floridian, I always find the mountains awe-inspiring. We started in Acadia National Park and then headed north to Moosehead Lake. I fell in love with the rocky coastline and beautiful countryside.
I wandered into a bookstore one afternoon, and there were a number of books by and about American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. It had been years since I’d read his work, and I hadn’t thought about his travels through Maine. He described the area as a “continuousness of the forest” and uninterrupted. That still holds true today.
I remembered what he had written about following your dreams. In this issue, we share success stories of Central Florida business owners who are doing exactly that. They’re seeking to make a difference and improve on the ways things are done. Next month we’ll feature companies in the technology industry who are doing the same thing. These entrepreneurs are an inspiration.
To your success.
Publisher and CEO