The Tuesday Take: The Power of Persistence

The sheer willpower it took to give humans wings.

In the lottery of life, we don’t have the luxury of choosing where we’re born, which family we’re born into, or the era that we live in. We’re simply deposited into this world, with a random set of genetics and ushered off to live.

Some people win the DNA lottery and are blessed with good looks, others are born into extreme wealth, giving them a favourable head start in life. But, there’s one quality that can be acquired & nurtured regardless of talent or genetics.

Persistence. A quality that truly separates the successful from those who are not. Not how much the odds are stacked up against you, it’s the sheer determination to keep on going, refusing to throw in the towel, no matter how impossible things may seem.


Speaking of impossible, throughout most of human history nothing comes close to defining that term as the magic of achieving flight for our species. Something that has eluded the lives of many -and ended them- in their pursuit to make it happen.

Except the Wright brothers. These two brothers from Dayton, Ohio are the pioneers of modern aviation as most of us know. But what a lot of us are not familiar with is the insane amount of persistence they exhibited to realize their dream.

From the get-go, everything was not in their favour. Starting with funding, they didn’t have any resources but their own. They worked other jobs to self-finance all their own research & development.


They designed and built their own engines & propellers from scratch, and troubleshooted it all themselves along the way. They started by building flying gliders, experimenting constantly with various wing shapes and designs, doing extensive wind tunnel tests to determine lift and drag forces.

Then once they had a working prototype -The Wright Flyer- there was the issue of the Ohio weather, with so many unknowns literally in the horizon, and variables that constantly needed tweaking, day after day, they had to wait for the right combination of wind and temperature to conduct their experiments.

Oh, I should also mention that throughout all of that, let’s not forget that this was more than a century ago, the skepticism surrounding them from all sides was intense. People continuously scoffed at their efforts, the scientific community at the time mocked them relentlessly. No wonder they had to do everything themselves.

“Persistence is a quality that truly separates the successful from those who are not.”

But, alas, their persistence paid off. On December 17, 1903, they successfully flew their airplane, the Wright Flyer, for a distance of 120 feet in just 12 seconds. Literally a groundbreaking achievement. Hallelujah, humans can fly.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve always been fascinated with planes, and love having small versions around me on my desk or bookshelf. A reminder to never give up, to have the belief that ideas and dreams can change the world.

Thanks, Wright brothers, for without your persistence we’d all probably still be stuck on the ground like a bunch of turkeys.


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