The Lesson of Wilbur and Orville Wright

The story of bothers Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first flight is certainly inspiring. It’s an amazing lesson in not giving up and the power of small steps forward. As we like to say with Tip Yourself, Small Steps Lead to Big Outcomes.

On December 14th 1903, Wilbur won a coin toss to decide who would be the first to pilot their model flyer. He won the toss, but lost his chance to be the first person to actually fly when he over steered, climbed too steeply, stalled, and crashed into the sand. He had tried but failed, and the flyer was too damaged to try again that day. Pack it up, the day was over.

But the brothers weren’t done. They brushed themselves off, made repairs, and returned three days later on December 17th, 1903. The weather that day wasn’t favorable; they faced adverse conditions with a 27-mph headwind.

Wilbur and Orville, could have called it quits right then. They could have said, the weather is bad and this will be too hard. Instead, they pushed forward.

Being the loser of the original coin flip it was now Orville’s turn to try and get the flyer airborne. He positioned himself and tested the controls. The controls were simple and few but Orville believed in his ability and their hard work.

At 10:35 am, Orville released the restraining wire…. just as Orville left the ground, John Daniels snapped the camera shutter, capturing the historic image of the airborne aircraft with Wilbur running alongside.

Orville successfully piloted the flyer and kept it in the air for 120 feet. Success!

120 feet; a small step indeed, but a historic one of great magnitude and a starting point for more to come. The brothers took turns and flew three more times that day. The fourth and last flight of the day was an impressive 852 feet for 59 seconds. Less than one minute… and not even three football fields.

A relatively small step from one perspective, but an amazing accomplishment overall!

An accomplishment indeed. The brothers would continue to work hard and improve their flyer over the next 8 years. They spent day after day thinking, building, designing and reworking for 8 straight years.

On October 24, 1911, they improved upon their original flight time of 59 seconds when Orville flew for 9 minutes and 45 seconds. Less than 10 minutes, but much longer than ever before.

Those 9 minutes and 45 seconds would stand as the World Record for 10 more years!!! Ten more years of countless days toiling and working, failing, trying over and over… taking small steps. Failing to fly for more than 10 minutes. 10 years of failures to finally break the record.

Think about that! From 1903 till 1921, no one was able to fly for more than 10 minutes. Yet in 1961, only forty years later. Yuri Gagarian would fly a lot longer than 10 minutes. Yuri Gagarin, would fly into space!

8 Years after that, Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin would walk on the moon…

In the end… Small Steps Lead to Big Outcomes.

You can’t jump to the finish line. Heck, sometimes you may not even be able to see the finish line. Wilbur and Orville Wright could never have dreamed of flying to the moon. They were focused on making progress and taking the first step.

Sometimes it may seem daunting. Sometimes it may feel impossible. Sometimes you may feel you are standing still. But all you have to do is take one small step forward. Just move forward each day and you will experience progress.

What will you do? What’s your journey? Whatever it is, start today and learn from Wilbur and Orville to recognize your victories along the way.

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