Like lots of Americans last week, I boarded a Southwest flight from Indianapolis to Sanibel Island for a trip to warm sunshine and beaches. It was a full flight so there was the typical grumbling about no aisle seats or window seats from many of the passengers. Plus, we took off about 20 minutes behind schedule. First world problems, I know. But in 2 1/2 hours we landed in sunshine and balmy breezes.
Ahhhhh……Spring Break. After the horrible winter we had this year, it was even more of an anticipated trip than in recent past years.
We certainly enjoy the beaches, adult libations, shell collecting, and restaurants. But, for me, a perennial favorite shopping spot on the island is Gene’s Books, a quirky small bookstore. It can’t be any bigger than 3,000 sq ft, the size of a modern Barnes & Noble coffee area within their 80,000 sq ft store. But the serendipitous finds inside never fail to disappoint me. Books stacked floor to ceiling. Many no longer in print. It even has that musty library smell inside which is as intoxicating as Chanel #5 is for many genteel folks.
Anyway, I bought two books this trip for reading on the beach and lanai. One of the books was The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. I’ve read his other books, but never this one. The price was perfect–$8.95.
Cracking open the spine, his writings time warped my mind back into the early 1900’s. For the next three days, I was engrossed in it. Like you, I always knew the surface details about how the brothers were the first to fly an airplane, blah, blah, blah. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing their original flyer suspended from the Smithsonian Air Museum ceiling.
McCullough’s deep research into their personal lives and the trials and tribulations from young boys until their deaths was inspiring. These men were true examples of:
- Perfect and absolute relentless focus.
- Precision, with the ability to monitor and review the smallest of details, lest their untested theories bring their deaths and family embarrassment.
- Perseverance, by suffering through hurricanes and mosquito infestations on the Outer Banks, ridicule by the experts at The Smithsonian (no shortage of irony here) and others attempting to steal their intellectual property like the infamous Alexander Graham Bell.
- Financial bootstrapping to generate cash for their 1903 flyer without any government or private grants.
- Society’s failure to recognize, at the time, the magnitude of their miraculous achievement. Even an editor of the Associated Press was unimpressed with their 57 second flight.
Imagine what would have happened if they had given up, had thrown in the towel, had become distracted by other worldly desires?
The reason for such a soft discussion with you today, and thank you for your attention thus far by the way, is that sometimes we can feel like we’re not making progress in our personal or professional lives.
We are now finished with the first quarter of 2019. Sometimes, it might feel like the whole world is against you or you should just quit and throw in the towel. It can be hard to recognize the small victories. Orville and Wilbur knew deep down in their souls what 57 seconds in the air like a soaring bird was going to bring their way. It was one small victory in a much longer journey, but they had the grit to keep after it.
So don’t you dare quit.
If you’re not hitting your rental property goals as a landlord, how can you refocus on smaller details to find out the problem? For the Wright Brothers, it was hiring a trusted mechanic named Charlie to operate their bicycle shop during their long trips to Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk so they could focus exclusively on their experiments.
If you’re not hitting your savings goals as a tenant to buy your next home or to get out of debt, how can you refocus? For the Wright Brothers, it was selling and repairing bicycles that generated enough profits to run their airplane experiments. The bicycle shop was just a means to an end for them.
If you’re a business owner constantly battling staffing issues, which small one can you attack and remove first to gain momentum? For the Wright Brothers, it was befriending local folks at Kitty Hawk to help them build barns and living quarters.
As our Spring Break trip wound down to its inevitable conclusion, we arrived back at the airport for the flight home. I’ll admit I was a little ashamed at how I can sometimes allow issues, frustrations or challenges to blow up in imaginary size compared to their actual relative scale. I sometimes let myself worry and wring my hands, instead of rolling up my sleeves and finding the solution.
We can keep trying.
We can keep learning.
And we can “Soar among the Heavens.”