When I was researching the history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge as
a major illustration for the ideas of success and motivation, I became engrossed
with the story of how the first bridge was built over Niagara Falls. You see,
to build a bridge over a giant gorge, first you have to get a line over the
canyon, from one side to the other. Easier said than done at Niagara Falls.
The engineers couldn’t cross the falls in a boat to take the line from
one side to the other because the boat would go over the falls. And the airplane
hadn’t been invented yet. The distance was also way beyond the bow-and-arrow
range, which had been a common method at the time of getting the first line
across to build a bridge.
The designing engineer, Charles Ellet, pondered the
question until he came up with a revolutionary idea. He decided that, while
solving the problem, he would also have some fun and generate some publicity
for the project. Ellet sponsored a kite flying contest and offered five dollars
to the first person who could fly a kite across the gorge and let it go low
enough to the ground for someone to be able to grab the string. In 1849, five
dollars was a prize similar to a small lottery today. The boy who won the price
relished his accomplishment until his death, nearly 80 years later.
It all began
with an idea and one thin kite string. The kite string was used to pull a cord
across, then a line, then a rope. Next came an iron-wire cable and then steel
cables, until a structure strong enough to build a suspension bridge was in
I’m struck by how that string is like a single thought. The more
vivid and clear the thought, and the more you come back to it, the stronger
it becomes — like the string to the rope to a cable. Each time you rethink
it, dwell on it, or layer it with other thoughts, you are strengthening the
structure on which to build your idea, like building a bridge over Niagara Falls.
But unlike a kite, there is no string attached to how high and how far your
goals may take you. They are limited only by the power of your imagination and
the strength of your desire.
Source: The Psychology of Motivation by Denis Waitley. Learn more about Denis Waitley and his many timeless books and audio programs.