By Kirk McCarley,
The Washington Monument was deteriorating. The culprit appeared to be the harsh chemicals being applied to clean the edifice. The cleaning was required in order to eradicate, at least temporarily, the staining caused by a significant amount of excrement, otherwise known as pigeon poop. This cycle, in one form or another, had repeated itself in some shape or form since the Monument’s completion over 130 years ago.
Deeper probing presented a solution. Why was there such an inordinate population of pigeons? It seemed that the birds found spiders absolutely delectable. The arachnids, too, also thrived in the vicinity of the Monument. So, what attracted the spiders? Even smaller insects, gnats, found the habitat at the end of the National Mall to their liking as well. What then with the gnats? Well it seemed that especially at dusk, when the illuminating lights were flipped on, a gnat frenzy ensued thus initiating the predator food chain, eventually resulting in the requirement for chemical cleansing. The solution to eliminate the cause became fairly simple: switch the lights on later in the evening. The National Parks Service, curators of the Monument, and the nearly one million annual visitors were delighted.
Most of us can claim proficiency at identifying problems. Social media boasts a plethora of respondents, along with reader opinion editorials, and the rants of elected officials and talking heads. Although it is more likely to believe this predilection is a recent phenomena, the reality is more probable that the tendency has been a component of the human spirit since time immemorial.
One of the things that seems to distinguish great leaders is their ability to derive solutions to problems or surround themselves with those who are capable. For those of you who enjoy good cinema, I recommend “Hidden Figures” if you have not seen it. The 2016 biographical drama is the story of three black female mathematicians who calculated trajectories and programmed computers for some of America’s earliest space missions. Not only did these women overcome racial and gender discrimination and stereotypes, but through great will, intelligence, and persistence had a significant role in the pioneering voyages of John Glenn and later moon landings.
In another instance the name of Washington played a significant role in a feat of American invention and ingenuity. Washington Roebling was a Civil Engineer who teamed up with his father, John Roebling, to engineer the construction of several early bridges during a period of dramatic expansion of American infrastructure. After his father’s passing Washington Roebling accepted the assignment to design and build one of the marvels of that time, a mission so impressive yet farfetched, that observers labeled him a mere dreamer, or worse, a fool. During early construction, in 1870, Roebling contracted decompression sickness essentially rendering him incapacitated from any measure of physical activity. In fact, he was unable to personally visit the construction site. Hospitalized and later bedridden, Roebling communicated through his wife, Emily, who took it upon herself to learn the mechanics of bridge building and served as essentially the on-site lead foreman. After a series of setbacks and challenges, finally in 1883 the 1600 foot cable-stayed/suspension Brooklyn Bridge opened across the East River connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn.
The challenge now, for you and me, lies in how we take our next steps. We see the opportunity, what is the next “why” to ask? If there is already a solution to the problem what can be added to that recipe to make it even better? How willing are you to be bold and “put yourself out there?” What will distinguish you?
A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact email@example.com, theseedsowercoach.com, or call 314-677-8779.
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