“Life is truly a ride. We're all strapped in and no one can stop it…. I think that the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair's messed, you're out of breath, and you didn't throw up.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
Budapest, Hungary -1910: Bertalan Gabor takes his 10 year-old son,Dennis, to a carnival where the boy rides a merry-go-round whoseseats aren't on the backs of little wooden ponies, but in thecockpits of little wooden airplanes. Later, when a real plane flieslow over the carnival, Dennis has a classic “little boy's” idea.Scampering home, he finds a pencil and draws an amusement park ridewith real airplanes tethered to a pole by a wire. Smiling, PapaBertalan helps young Dennis put his 'blueprints' in order and evenpays the fees to have them submitted to the Hungarian Patent Office.
Can you imagine the confidence that was gained by little DennisGabor when he was awarded Patent No. 54, 703 for the airplane merry-go-round? I suspect it made a lifelong impression on the kid.Wouldn't you agree?
Seventeen years later, 27 year-old Dennis Gabor invented themercury-vapor lamp used in millions of streetlights around theworld. Then, while waiting for a tennis court at age 47, Gabor had another “little boy's” idea. Gazing at the peaks and valleys in water ripples, Gabor knew that the height of its peaks and thedepth of its valleys could measure the intensity of a wave. And if a set of ripples collided with a second set of ripples and the peaksof each coincided with the peaks of the other, they would combine toform still higher peaks. But if the peaks of one matched up with thevalleys of the other, they would cancel each other out. Realizingthat light is likewise made of waves of varying intensity, itoccurred to Gabor that “light added to light could producedarkness.” And the hologram was born – a discovery that enjoyshundreds of uses today, including bar-code scanners in supermarkets,'heads-up' displays in automobiles, and holographic security deviceson millions of credit cards. Dennis Gabor's discovery won him the 1971 Nobel Prize in Physics.
But what if Bertalan Gabor hadn't been willing to send a little boy's idea to the Hungarian Patent Office? Might we be walking darker streets today and waiting in longer lines at the supermarket?
Do you give the people around you the encouragement they need? Or do you wait, straight pin in hand, to burst every half-inflatedidea you encounter?
The world is full of people like Dennis Gabor. What we need isanother encourager like Bertalan.
Are you willing to fill his shoes?
Roy H. Williams
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