With no one to test their aeroplanes, they risked their own lives in testing their planes,
coming close to death many times to realise their dream.
As a kid, I used to love solving maths problems. In fact, the more difficult the problems appeared to be, the more determined I felt to tackle them. Very often, after school, I used to call my friend to ask him about the day’s homework, and he would give me a report on the rest of our friends and their activities. “Don’t even try to solve the last two problems,” my friend would say to me. “None of them has been able to do it.” This meant that I would spend the rest of my night trying to get the better of those two elusive problems. Many times, I would even ignore the rest of the assignments just to solve the parts that had been deemed unsolvable by my friends. Sometimes I managed to find the answer, sometimes I did not—but I always made some sort of progress. I am sure I am not the only one who went through this phase. Decades down the line, I still hold dear the lessons that those early math problems taught me—when situations appear impossible to salvage and it seems like you will never find the answer you are looking for, it is exactly the time to try even harder because you are closer to the solution than ever before.
This applies to all sorts of problems—big and small. Be it solving a math equation, overcoming a personal hurdle, achieving a fitness goal, or inventing something new. Irrespective of the problem that you are facing, solving it requires almost the same approach. The very first step is to begin by breaking the problem down into the simplest and smallest pieces possible. Start your journey by taking one small step at a time and by solving one small piece of the puzzle, followed by another. There is a good probability that you will not end up getting the complete answer at the very first attempt because these are not easy problems. These problems are much like a treasure hunt exercise—each time you tackle one of the pieces, it will reveal the next step for you to take in order to move forward towards the final goal. The trick of solving a problem lies as much in taking the right approach as it does in believing that you can actually solve it. Be persistent while facing the problem and before you know it, the problem will be solved.
When the Wright Brothers invented the aeroplane, they had no one to emulate. The only way to prove to the world that they have been successful was to put their own life in danger by trying to fly an aeroplane—something never done before. It was their belief—that they can achieve it—that led to one of the brothers boarding the experimental plane and putting his life in danger for the purpose of achieving the big goal. Most problems will not present a life-or-death scenario to you like it did to the Wright Brothers. But the message from Wright Brothers’ journey was about never giving up. They failed multiple times, had multiple crashes, were laughed at by people for using their lives’ savings on something that was always considered impossible to achieve. But the only thing that kept them going was a belief that their next attempt would be better than the previous one. Even if there is only a slim chance of success, there is always the hope that your efforts will be worth it. Remember that your single success has the potential to overturn thousands of failures.
Some of the best known and the greatest accomplishments of humankind have been achieved right in the face of widespread scepticism. Even the most pressing challenges have been overcome through individual grit and determination. All it took was for the people to believe that there was another way to achieve the goal and the belief that they would be able to find that particular way. I truly believe that each one of us has been endowed with the strength and courage needed to face challenges head-on and to create new opportunities, not just for ourselves, but for others as well. I sincerely hope that you manage to see those qualities within yourself—and that the sense of possibility within you and your perseverance allow you to build the life that you have been dreaming of.