Today the Wright Brothers are honored as heroes, but to most of their peers they were known as a couple of tinkerers with a cycle shop.
The brothers could have easily been grounded to their cycle shop for life, but instead they took flight. What skills set these men apart from the crowd?
Ever since they were boys, the Wright Brothers were fascinated with flight.
As boys they played together, and as men they went into business together. Through their print and bicycle shops, the Wrights learned that two heads are better than one.
The brothers could have used their location as an excuse to give up. After all, Dayton, Ohio, was not a very good spot to fly a glider. Engineering their mechanical marvel was only part of the challenge.
In addition to writing to other students of flight to get ideas, Wilbur and Orville wrote to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to find out which parts of the United States would be best suited for flying.
Today we have access to the internet where correspondence by email is quick, free, and easy and where authoritative sites like NOAA.gov provide more detailed information than the Wright Brothers ever had.
Most innovation is much less dramatic than powered flight. If you have ever had a question or need that has never been solved, then you are in a good position to be an innovator.
Think about it. With so many resources available to you, how can you use the internet to help solve that pressing problem?
Writing to people they didn’t even know with questions was the least of the Wright Brothers’ risks. These men traveled from their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, to the blustery beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to attempt flight.
No one had ever achieved flight by attaching an engine to a set of wings. Doing so was considered impossible by most and was a common subject of mockery.
For the brothers, risk was certainly not a goal. They spent countless hours researching glider accidents in the library and performing wind tunnel tests in their bicycle shop. Ultimately though, some risk was necessary.
On December 17, 1903, it was Orville’s turn to pilot the plane. At 10:35 AM Wilbur and Orville changed the world with a 12-second flight that took Orville about 300 yards. They had achieved the first engine-powered flight!
You also have something unique to contribute to the world. Whether your contribution is in repairing cars, raising children, programming computers, teaching a class, or something else, you can add something unique to the world because you are one of a kind.
Next time you encounter a problem that doesn’t seem to have a solution, instead of being frustrated, how can you turn the problem into an opportunity for innovation?