Bruce Fritch, Strategic Snapshots: Refreshing Our Perspective

Our Soaring Legacy Within

Question Authority” is more than my favorite bumper sticker. Perhaps like you, I have spent a lifetime seeking Truth, generally approaching the extraordinary with hope and skepticism. I want to relate two of these experiences, because I’m sure their message is not intended just for me. This seems all the more appropriate on Independence Day in the United States, the Fourth of July:

In 1988, I visited Wright Brothers National Memorial, at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, operated by the National Park Service. It is the desolate laboratory where Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane ‑ the site of the first motorized flights they made on December 17th, 1903. My time there turned out to be the most surprising experience I have ever had visiting many historic sites in the world. Walking several steps on the path of those first prophetic flights, I stepped through an unseen portal and entered a space that I can best describe for its embracing emotion ‑ I was held in the grasp of palpable energy I associated with the gravity of the place ‑ prompting involuntary tears and the overwhelm of profound realization. I was literally walking through the sands of history. It was overwhelming and deeply memorable.

I’ve considered this surprising experience many times, hoping to unscramble the energetic formula that made that happen. Last week, I went there again, and I think I realized what is there that informs us all.

When I arrived at the site I again went to the Visitors’ Center and spent time absorbing the informational displays, observing the meticulously hand-written notes, the trial-and-error engineering progression, and the sequence of scientific experiments that formed the Wright Brothers’ insight-attaining method, despite their lack of formal education. Next, I listened to the Park Ranger who presented the story of these experiments, employing a full scale model of the Wright Flyer #1 as he gave his speech.

With skill and appropriate deference, the Ranger pointed out the Wrights’ fundamental innovations that manifested during those three years on the Kitty Hawk campsite at a time in human history when no one had proceeded successfully beyond unmanned glider flight. The many innovations included the design of the propeller blades, the steering technique called wing warping, and a 4-cylinder motor that weighed 179 pounds and generated over 12 horsepower. Then, again, I went out to walk the first flight path.

I reasoned that the non-ordinary reality I had encountered there 24 years before was actual but unique, perhaps owing to my complete lack of expectation, and my naive openness in that walk years ago. So, as again I walked the first 50 feet of the historic pathway, I felt nothing extraordinary, and relaxed in this awareness. I continued on, and suddenly ‑ astonishingly ‑ passing through the unseen portal I was once again embraced in an energetic field of such consequence it was fundamentally overwhelming. Efforting, I succeeded in regaining my equilibrium and felt myself depart the energy field.

Then, walking further to the marker memorializing the concluding point of the 852 foot fourth and final flight of that December 1903 day, I was again overwhelmed by the embracing energy for what felt like a very long time. It was not a cognitive experience, it was purely somatic, and utterly undeniable, despite my sense of confusion and subsequent self-consciousness. I was surprised by these experiences at the Wright Brothers’ airfield, yet I recognized each was nearly identical to experiences I had in Ganeshpuri, India, at Fajada Butte, New Mexico, and at Palenque, Mexico, and other sites noted for their profound and sacred qualities ‑ like the Pacific sunrise viewed from Kauai, or the sound of distant loons over a lake in the Canadian wilderness.

What can be found there, informing us all, is the promise of our soaring legacy. Each of us can be inspired by the vision of our inner possibilities, our inherent mission and destiny. When we succeed in avoiding the filtering doubts of our insecurity and despair, there is nothing quite so inspiring as what resides inside you and me. I hope you share this realization of yourself and those you lead.

“…it is not really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already to be certain it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads.”  ‑  Wilbur Wright (1867-1912)

“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so that we could discover them!!” and “I got more thrill out of flying before I had ever been in the air at all – while lying in bed thinking how exciting it would be to fly.”  ‑  Orville Wright (1871-1948)

What specifically resides in Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flight path is the energy still dwelling there memorializing their profound vision, courage, and dedication of self to their worthy goal. It is the residue of honor and brilliance made manifest by these humble achievers, who’s pursuit of flight was not about personal wealth or fame or power during their time of inventive leadership. In the language of Simon Sinek, it was inspiration that flowed from worthy endeavor by starting with a worthy why. I can attest to the fact that their legacy is not only in the world of modern day flight, it still permeates the first flight path!

You and those you inspire have this ability where worthy goals can be imagined. Worthy goals benefit humanity. The world surely needs your inspiration now.

If you are feeling a bit stuck or overwhelmed seeking your Wright Brothers’ vision, Simon Sinek’s new book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, might be helpful. As always, I invite your conversation.

Fritch Consulting facilitates business growth by collaborating with leaders who are striving with core-values to insightfully "do the right thing." I write and speak out of my deep concern for the current crisis of integrity in leadership, with the hope of creating a more discerning conversation and promoting effective action.

Your viewpoints are appreciated and I would be happy to continue the conversation — so I encourage you to Comment below or contact me directly: [email protected]. — Bruce W. Fritch

  • CoachPop

    Inspirational … and when we are ‘aware and receptive’, transformational. Thank you, Bruce!

    • Bwfritch

      Thank you, Peter. Yes, given the state of the world, we veer on trajectories through hope in inspiration, hoping for transformation. We can’t wait for the corrupt corporate “leader” to transform, any more than we can afford to wait for the narcissistic – unaware and unreceptive – U.S. Congress to reform and focus collectively on the needs of citizens. Despite all of this, it is possible to overcome the greed and lack of ethics. We do need to set our change leadership GPS for transformation.

  • I agree! I love how your story and their story blends the wisdom of Start with Why–the key to inspiration–with the power of intrinsic motivation (Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose), and one of the keys of peak performance, choosing inspirational leaders to emulate. We need these powerful stories to remind us to step out of our busy zone and into in learning mode- open, aware, curious, and receptive, even emotionally vulnerable, ready to be inspired, and ready to inspire. 

    • Bwfritch

      Thank you, Cindi. I want to interview and write [powerful stories to remind us] about men and women in positions of authority who demonstrate in the most practical and meaningful actions their lack of greed and superficiality, as they operate in service to others. These people are not easy to find, because so many people in authoritative positions talk the talk but do not walk it. I am interested in the names of “bosses” who are truly core-social-values-oriented leaders, who eschew greed, and who are successful for their avoidance of corruption.