Last week I finally caved in and bought a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner. I’m a bit behind the times in discovering these life-changing machines, but I’ve never been keen on spending that amount of money on a household appliance, particularly when coffee doesn’t come out of it.
But I’m adult enough now to realise that buying cheap vacuums annually is no longer working for me, and I was also feeling guilty about sending another vacuum to landfill. So this year when my little one broke, my friend urged me to invest in a Dyson as she has a deep love for her own.
When I arrived home with my shiny vacuum and set to putting it together I noticed a paragraph on the box that explained how the inventor, James Dyson, after being frustrated with his own vacuum’s useless dust-clogging performance, came up with the idea of cyclonic vacuum technology. Using the knowledge he had from building an industrial cyclone tower for his own factory, he wondered whether the same principle could be applied to the humble household vacuum. And the rest is history.
But, the thing that amazed me was that after Dyson’s initial idea, it took him five years and 5,127 prototypes before he got there. And it’s still continually evolving and improving. Most people wouldn’t put together one prototype of an idea they had, never mind persevere with over five thousand of them.
This got me thinking about how most people give up on what they want too easily. If Dyson hadn’t had persevered in his quest to make the perfect vacuum, he wouldn’t have revolutionised the industry, and I wouldn’t be whistling whilst I cleaned my floors now.
How many things have we all tried that we gave up on too soon? Things that we could have been the best at, made millions out of, been successful at, or just make us enjoy life a little more.
Looking back at our lives, we all have had the experience of setting out with an idea, trying for a bit, and then giving up. For some people, the memory might be of an idea that was never tried because the end goal looked so big and daunting, that they gave up before starting.
I see it with people wanting to lose weight, people on the lookout for a new partner, people wanting to lose weight, people with a brilliant idea for a new business or those thinking of a career change that involves enrolling in university. Outcomes and goals that look so huge, that to embark on the journey of attaining them seems impossible.
And that’s my point. Success in anything involves a journey. Yes the shiny new Dyson looks perfect, as does the fit body, the profitable business and the university degree. But there is a long journey involved in reaching these end points.
The journey always involves a multitude of small steps, which often go off on the wrong track for a period of time. But each time this happens, we can learn a tremendous amount. I expect this happened to Dyson on numerous occasions, otherwise why would he keeping plugging away making prototypes. Each and every mistake, every piece of feedback, every test, every wrong pathway, would have led to him to the final product. I’m sure at times the end point for him seemed increasingly distant. But obviously he kept going.
Reaching a goal or getting a successful outcome doesn’t come easy to most people, and it definitely doesn’t come to people that give up or who don’t try.
The formula for success involves many small steps over a long period of time.
And the most important small step is the first one. Just starting.