Persistence, Luck and Vision

15/09/2009 at 10:30 Leave a comment

Columbus had a different way of thinking….

I get inspiration from lots of sources. This was a National Press Club luncheon in 1996, but I liked how Lester Thurow, Dean of the Department of Mathematics, MIT closed up his remarks.

I have shared this story with many at the end of workshops I have facilitated. I think fundraising is a lot like Columbus as Professor Thurow, stated so well……see bold below. A short read, enjoy and share.

“Columbus was smart in the sense he knew the world was round*. But in MIT terms, Columbus was not terribly swift when it came to mathematics, because Columbus had to make two mathematical calculations to figure out how much water to put on the boats. The first calculation: what’s the diameter of the earth? And when Columbus estimated that, he made it one-third too small. The second question he had to answer was, how far did Marco Polo walk? And when he estimated that answer, he made it one-third too big.

Now if you subtract a number that is one-third too big from a number that is one-third too small, you make what is called a major mathematical error. And Columbus estimated that the distance from the Canary Islands to the East Indies was 3,900 nautical miles. It’s actually 13,000 nautical miles.

And if you look at the amount of water that Columbus put on his ships, before he got halfway there, he and all of his men would have died of thirst and the name of Columbus would never have come down in the history books.

Now, I suppose one moral you could read out of this story is it’s more important to basically be lucky than smart, because it just happens to be that exactly 3,900 nautical miles from the Canaries, one runs into the Americas. The Americas were full of gold and they made the Spanish empire for the next 300 years.

But that would be the wrong moral of the story, because you’ve got to remember something else.

It took Columbus seven years to persuade Ferdinand and Isabella to finance the expedition. It took enormous persistence. And without the enormous persistence, he never would have been in a position to have the enormous good luck. Secondly, and even more importantly, he had to have the vision of doing it in a different way or he could not have had the good luck.

And so in closing, I wish you intelligence. But more than intelligence, I wish you good luck. And more than good luck, I wish you persistence. And most of all, I wish you a vision for a new world.”

And I know every great fundraiser has intelligence, persistence and vision. It isn’t about luck so much.

*Small footnote, I learned there is a lot of debate about whether Columbus was the FIRST dude to think the world was round.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Entry filed under: A Better You. Tags: , , , , .

Random Moment of Goodness On-Boarding Staff – Ideas You can Use

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Barbara’s Twitter Feed

Beyond Melbourne

Food Travel Markets Artists

Annual Fund Lab

The Annual Fund Isn't Annual At All

Gippsland Unwrapped

Zero waste, plastic free and no palm oil. My life 'unwrapped' in Gippsland.

Just another site


Leaders Not Managers

Susan Sink

life on these 80 acres

The Net Naturalist

A field guide to social media.

Good By Choice

philanthropy. kindness. insights. observations

Pretty Prints & Paper

Using the bullet journal and calligraphy to cultivate an intentional life

Passion Themed Life

multi-passionate mom learning as i go


Life with Labs in Las Vegas

No Small Change

All things pertaining to communications, from the bunch of us at Barapani

Activate Learning Solutions

Learning Solutions that Activate Performance in Your Company

Clay Myers-Bowman

Producer, Photographer & Fundraising Consultant

Startups and Burritos

Mostly about startups but sometimes about burritos too.

Nonprofit Nate

Helping people help causes.

Talisman Thinking Out Loud

Philanthropy - Fundraising - Nonprofit Management

%d bloggers like this: