Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers: Get Inspired With These DIYers

I don’t know about you, but I love to read the biographies of great innovators of the past. Doing so helps bring inspiration and innovation to the projects I produce in my shop. I’m going to mark it down as my favorite book of the year: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough is an incredible account of two determined brothers and the birth of perhaps the world’s greatest invention. It covers the Wrights’ humble beginnings as bicycle repairmen to their most incredible contribution to the world — the first successful flying machine.

I bought the CD version and listened to the Wright Brother’s story each day during my 1 hour commute to work. I’ve found audio books a great way to stretch the mind as I make what could be a mindless drive each day. A great way to develop and further my education. It’s a great book and that’s not just my opinion. It comes with a 4.5 star rating and over 4200 customer reviews in Amazon. You’ve got to check it out!

What I learned from the Wright Brothers’ Approach?

  • The importance of being self-taught
  • You don’t have to be a genius. But you do need to be determined.
  • Never give up on your ideas — keep at it until you accomplish it.
  • Partner and collaborate with others you can trust
  • Don’t allow people to steal your hard-earned ideas
  • Don’t overanalyze — try something, experiment. Become intimately involved in the projects you take on.
  • Don’t neglect hands-on learning. Not everything can be learned from a book or a video.
  • Do things yourself. Only outsource what makes sense
  • You have to take risks and sometimes experience losses and failures.
  • Learn from your mistakes, the mistakes of others, and always seek ways to improve
  • Competition is a good thing
  • Learn the best way to show off and promote your idea
  • Observe nature every opportunity you get
  • Don’t forget the importance of friends and family

Observe and learn

The Wright Brothers were astute observers of nature. They watched carefully as birds glided masterfully through the air and they gathered and noted those ideas. Those ideas led to their notion of wing warping and a unique understanding of aerodynamics. They took bold risks and experimented firsthand with their prototypes. They learned largely from their experiences and failures, not textbooks and theory. I’m not saying that they ignored theory and sound engineering principles. But they were above average when it came to testing theory and either proving or disproving principles and widely held theories. Both men were self-taught and well aware of aerodynamic theories.

Wright Brothers

I can identify with the Wright Brother’s approach everyday in the workshop. Yes, I can read a well-written book or tutorial or watch a great YouTube video, but I also have to test these ideas and make them my own. And even place my own spin on them. Nobody wants to simply be a copycat.

Sometimes I’ll try something, and I’ll fail, but I learn some valuable lessons along the way.

I may not create a world-changing invention like the airplane, but I might just come up with a new and unique craft or woodworking project.

This is what makes life interesting — trying new things, learning new things, and making new things.

If you love history and are looking for inspiration, make sure you get a copy of The The Wright Brothers by David Mccullough

How about you? Who inspires you to make and create? And what lessons have you learned from the maker models in your life?

Happy Woodworking!