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The Wright failures

I have definitely felt like a failure before. It can be tough to keep pushing through when we're feeling discouraged. I'm really inspired by the Wright brothers' story of perseverance. It's a great reminder that failure doesn't have to be the end of the story. I recently preached a message at Catalyst church about making disciples and shared how a chip of wood from the propeller of their airplane sold for $275,000. That would never have happened if they had given up.

It's encouraging to hear about how even those who experience failure can go on to do incredible things. I'm sh ring over the next few weeks some of history's greatest failures. Today I will share the story of Orvil and Wilbur Wright.

The Wright Brothers’ Failures


When was the last time you flew in an airplane? How long did this trip take you? More importantly, how long would it have taken you to reach the same destination if you’d never flown at all?

Without Wilbur and Orville Wright, the world would be a very different place. But did you know the Wright Brothers, who revolutionized powered flight, never finished high school, much less had any kind of college degree?

To the outside observer, the Wright Brothers didn’t look like much. They started out in an entirely different field from where they wound up. Initially, their interest lay in newspapers and the printing process. In 1889 they built their own printing press involving components created from such diverse objects as junk iron, a gravestone, and even an old buggy top. For the next seven years, they struggled, first to produce their own newspapers, and then as printers. The problem? They never could get community support from the newspapers they produced. Even the mechanical failed them; for a while, their designs in printing presses (becoming better over the years) never gave them the clientele to make a business out of this particular service.

In the end they abandoned printing completely. They were not defeated, though and turned their attention elsewhere – to the current bicycle craze. Even this enterprise took time. It took them more than two diligent years of hard work to create a bicycle design that was both lightweight and functional enough to become popular.

You probably know the rest. From there, they turned their eyes to the skies. The same issues they’d had in bicycles they saw as being the problem with the current airships being developed: the problem lay in keeping the craft lightweight enough to attain altitude, while maintaining ease of control, with enough power to keep the plane in motion as it went. In short, they felt what was needed was a craft you could handle as easily as a bicycle in the air.

Again, the Wright Brothers had to dig in and prove themselves diligent. Early failures had them wanting to give up on more than one occasion. In 1903 they proved the idea was possible with their success at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

What can we learn from this story? First, your official education isn’t everything. The important thing is to keep learning, sometimes through trial and error. Second, never give up. Failure is bound to happen. It’s what you do next that matters.

The Wright Brothers persisted, and because they did, they were able to attain new heights. So will you. Hang in there and keep going. You’ll get your ideas off the ground in no time! Most important,, trust God through the process.


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