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The End of Impossibility

June 11, 2024
Financial Literacy
Personal Finance
The New York Times once declared the concept of flight—whether through the air or into space—as either an impossibility or a sheer act of egotism.

This skeptical stance could have easily discouraged many. Yet, it's fortunate that pioneers never paid heed to such pessimistic views from the media or anyone. They pursued their groundbreaking work with the belief that what they were doing wasn't just possible, but was going to change the world. They remained blissfully unaware of the so-called impossibilities laid out by the mainstream media of their time.

This historical footnote serves as a powerful reminder that if you listen too closely to external skepticism or try to find validation from the media before embarking on something new, you're likely to encounter a barrage of opposition and misunderstanding. This doesn't mean, however, that you should let go of your dreams and aspirations. On the contrary, it's usually those who dare to defy the status quo and tune out the naysayers who end up leaving a significant mark on the world.

Their stories teach us an invaluable lesson about innovation and perseverance. It's easy to follow a path that's already been laid out and accepted by everyone else. But it takes a true visionary to chart their own course and to have the tenacity to push forward, even when faced with skepticism and doubt. With enough determination and belief in your own ideas, achieving the impossible can become possible.

The Wright Brothers

With the rapid growth of technology over the past century, the concept of flight has dramatically transitioned from being a fantastical dream to a tangible, everyday reality. This journey wasn't smooth or straightforward; it was marked by skepticism, ridicule, and numerous failures that seem almost unfathomable today, given our current advancements in aeronautics.

“A man-carrying airplane will eventually be built, but only if mathematicians and engineers work steadily for the next 10 million years.”

- The New York Times

Perhaps the most notable instance of this skepticism came on October 9, 1903, when The New York Times boldly predicted that human flight might take anywhere from one to ten million years to develop. This claim, steeped in disbelief, would soon be spectacularly overturned. Merely nine weeks later, in a moment that would forever change the course of human history, the Wright Brothers achieved the first successful manned flight. This event stands as a testament to human determination and ingenuity, offering a stark contrast to the pathologically cynical viewpoints of the time, which always found a reason to doubt or complain.

The article delves into the rich history of skepticism and failure that characterized early attempts at achieving powered flight, specifically highlighting the rather comical yet illustrative failure of the Langley flying machine. This endeavor, backed by significant funding and public attention, ended ignominiously when Professor Manly, who was clad in a cork jacket for safety, piloted the contraption only for it to crash unceremoniously into the Potomac River. This incident serves as a focal point in the article, underlining the era's dismissive attitude toward aeronautic innovation. The bemused public reaction to the Langley machine's failure, coupled with the broad assertion by The New York Times that human flight could take millennia to achieve, encapsulates the prevailing skepticism of the time.

Yet, this skepticism and the failures that fed it did not dampen the human spirit or the collective dream of taking to the skies. Instead, they underscored a significant phase in the iterative process of innovation. The narrative eloquently argues that flight, like any groundbreaking endeavor, evolves through a process of gradual improvement and relentless experimentation. It challenges the notion of immediate success, suggesting that what might initially appear futile or flawed can, with persistence and creativity, become a stepping stone to future successes.

Through detailed accounts of the trials, errors, and eventual triumphs in aviation, the article exemplifies how early efforts, though often met with public ridicule and scientific pessimism, laid the foundational groundwork for the astonishing advancements in aviation we witness today. It weaves through the discourse of failure and ridicule to celebrate human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of flight, reminding us that the path to innovation is rarely linear but is always paved with perseverance.

Robert Goddard

On January 13, 1920, the New York Times once again published an editorial, staunchly insisting that a rocket could not possibly operate in the vacuum of space. Robert Goddard, a relatively unknown physics professor from Clark University at the time, encountered this article. He read it with a mix of amusement and frustration. For years, he had been engrossed in the development of liquid-fueled rockets, dedicating countless hours to this pursuit, despite facing relentless ridicule and skepticism from much of the scientific community. His work was pioneering, yet it was largely dismissed by his peers who couldn't envision the practical applications of his research.

“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere.”

- The New York Times

The historical skepticism toward the potential of flight, both within the Earth's atmosphere and beyond into space, is a compelling narrative. It juxtaposes the early dismissals with the eventual, monumental achievements in the field. Initially, visionaries such as the Wright Brothers and Robert Goddard were subjects of criticism and doubt. Even reputable sources like The New York Times, which famously underestimated the prospects of powered flight and rocketry, contributed to this skepticism. Despite facing such doubt, these pioneers persevered, with the Wright Brothers achieving the first powered, manned flight and Goddard significantly advancing rocket technology through his innovations.

In 1926, Goddard's relentless pursuit bore fruit when he successfully launched the world's first liquid-fueled rocket. This groundbreaking event didn't just vindicate Goddard; it paved the way for future advances in space travel and rocket technology, laying the foundational stone for the incredible journey of exploration beyond Earth's confines.

A particularly striking moment of vindication for proponents of space exploration, and indeed for Goddard himself, came when The New York Times publicly retracted its earlier skepticism. This retraction came the day after the Apollo 11 mission launched toward the Moon, acknowledging the feasibility and paramount importance of space travel. This narrative underscores the relentless pursuit of innovation by individuals like Amelia Earhart, Elon Musk, the Wright Brothers, and Goddard. It also highlights the critical importance of challenging and overcoming entrenched skepticism.

The evolution of flight and space exploration stands as a profound testament to human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of the seemingly impossible. It underscores the power of belief, determination, and scientific inquiry in transcending the limitations of the present and expanding the boundaries of human achievement. Without Goddard's unwavering determination and belief in his groundbreaking ideas, the incredible advancements in space exploration that form a cornerstone of modern scientific achievement might have been significantly delayed. His legacy is a powerful reminder of the importance of pursuing one’s vision with courage and resilience, regardless of the skepticism and obstacles that may arise.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart stands out as a shining example of perseverance and courage. Despite being repeatedly told that women were not suited to fly airplanes—a domain overwhelmingly dominated by men—she refused to let this discouraging sentiment deter her ambitions. Amelia Earhart shattered these baseless assumptions by not only learning to fly but also by becoming one of the most celebrated pilots in the annals of aviation history. Her journey wasn’t just about defying societal expectations; it represented a profound challenge to the rigid boundaries that defined what women could or could not do at the time. She didn't just push the boundaries; she soared beyond them, ultimately paving a path for future generations of female aviators who dreamt of the sky.

Her story serves as a powerful testament to the idea that the most formidable barriers we encounter often stem from the societal norms and expectations that seek to define and limit us. By rising above and breaking through these constraints, figures like Earhart do more than achieve personal milestones; they inspire others to embark on their journeys of defiance and breakthrough. Amelia Earhart’s legacy is not merely in the records she set or the flights she undertook; it’s in the indelible mark she left on the world, encouraging future generations to continue challenging the status quo and expanding the realm of what is deemed achievable.

In reflecting on Amelia Earhart’s life and achievements, we are reminded of the power of individual courage in the face of collective doubt. Her story is a clarion call to look beyond the limitations imposed by societal norms and to pursue our dreams with unwavering conviction. As we look up to the sky, let us draw inspiration from Earhart’s relentless spirit, understanding that the only true limits are those we place upon ourselves. In honoring her legacy, we celebrate not just a pioneer in aviation but a beacon of empowerment for all who are inspired to challenge the impossible.

Elon Musk

Similarly, when Elon Musk first introduced his visionary idea for SpaceX, he was met with a great deal of criticism and skepticism. Many doubted the feasibility of his ambitious goals. However, this skepticism did not deter Musk; instead, it fueled his determination to pursue his dream of not only colonizing Mars but also revolutionizing the way we think about space travel. Today, SpaceX stands at the forefront of commercial space exploration, having successfully launched an impressive array of rockets and spacecraft into orbit, marking significant milestones in the aerospace industry.

This journey of SpaceX under Musk's leadership is a powerful testament to his unwavering determination and strong belief in his innovative ideas, even in the face of immense skepticism from critics. Musk's persistence and innovative vision have catapulted SpaceX into leading the charge toward commercializing space, a feat that once seemed relegated to the realm of science fiction.

Musk's ability to turn his visionary ideas into reality, pushing the boundaries of space technology, aligns him with the legacy of other great pioneers in the field. Like them, Musk has faced and overcome significant challenges and skepticism, proving that with enough determination and belief in one's ideas, groundbreaking advancements in technology are not only possible but inevitable. His achievements with SpaceX continue to inspire a new generation of engineers, scientists, and dreamers, all looking to the stars and beyond.

The history of flight and space exploration is a testament to the power of determination and belief in one's own ideas. Despite facing skepticism and doubt, individuals like the Wright Brothers, Robert Goddard, Amelia Earhart, and Elon Musk pushed boundaries and achieved what was once thought to be impossible. Their stories serve as inspiration for future generations to continue pushing the limits of human achievement and exploration, reminding us that anything is possible with determination, perseverance, and a belief in the power of our own ideas. So let us take inspiration from these pioneers and continue to dream big, challenge norms, and reach for the stars.

The Power of Belief

These stories serve as a powerful reminder of the human capacity to achieve the seemingly impossible through perseverance,

It's important to remember that even when faced with naysayers and skeptics, we should always believe in our own ideas and push forward with determination. The stories of these pioneers remind us that innovation and progress are often met with doubt and ridicule, but through perseverance and a strong belief in one's own ideas, the impossible can become possible. So let us continue to push the boundaries of human achievement, inspired by those who dared to believe in their dreams even when everyone else said it couldn't be done. The sky is no longer the limit; it is just the beginning of what we can achieve.

These examples show that great achievements often require going against the norm and ignoring negative opinions. It takes courage, determination, and a strong belief in oneself to break barriers and challenge what is considered impossible. But as history has shown us time and time again, those who dare to dream big and push the boundaries are the ones who make significant and lasting impacts in the world.


When it comes to building a financial education business like WealthWave and teaching from our money books, courses, websites, videos and podcasts, we are often met with skepticism and doubt. People may question the legitimacy of our methods or criticize our unconventional approach to personal finance. However, just like these flying pioneers, we must stay true to our beliefs and persevere in the face of doubt.

Our success as a company comes from embodying the same pioneering spirit that has led others to break through barriers and achieve greatness. We must continue to inspire future generations to believe in their potential, challenge the status quo, and reach new heights of financial success. Let's take inspiration from these pioneers and continue to soar toward a brighter future with unwavering determination and belief in ourselves.

So don't be afraid to dream big and pursue your passions, even if they may seem unrealistic or impossible at first. Remember, it's often the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world that end up doing just that. So keep striving, keep pushing, and don't let anyone tell you that something is impossible.

Because in the end, it's those who defy expectations and challenge what is believed to be impossible that truly change the world for the better.  So keep dreaming, keep exploring, and never let anyone limit your potential. Who knows, you may just prove The New York Times wrong, too. After all, anything is possible if you have the courage to believe in yourself and the determination to make it happen.