First Flight

My Favorite Entrepreneurial Story

Brothers who against all odds, built the worlds first flying machine.

A while back, I was getting coffee with a friend and he shared the story of the Wright Brothers and the obstacles they overcame to build the worlds first flying machine. I loved that story.

The Wright Brothers were bicycle salesmen from Ohio, and were competing with a man named Samuel Langley to build the flying machine first. Samuel Langley had funding from the United States War Department, and no limitations on access to supplies and resources. Famous journalists, newspapers, and reporters were commonly known to follow Samuel Langley and track his progress. His success was guaranteed.

The Wright Brothers on the other hand, only had access to the materials in their bike shop.

The underdog aspect however, isn’t my favorite part of the story. It’s rather the mindset the Wright Brothers had. One of my favorite authors, Brad Meltzer describes this part of the story best. Here is an excerpt from his Heroes for My Son.

Every day, they knew they’d fail.
Every time they’d go out to fly — every time — they brought extra materials because they knew their fledgling design would crash.
Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild.
But never ever, ever give up.

Just think about that for a second… Every single day they knew that they would not just fail, but fail to the point where they needed to rebuild. Not only were they ok with this, they expected it. They knew they had to fail, and fail quickly to become successful.

I heard Warren Buffet once say something along the lines of you should try to copy the traits of the people you find to be inspirational or admirable and apply those traits on yourself (Link here to that speech). The Wright Brothers mindset is one of those traits for me. Hopefully one day I can develop it.

You hear all the time the saying, “Don’t be afraid to fail” which obviously the Wright Brothers weren’t, but I think a better way to put it is,

the Wright Brothers weren’t afraid to succeed.