Career Coach: Marching On
“Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.”
-- Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham
In Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-am is so persistent that the other character finally tries the dish he is offering and finds he likes it. Dr. Seuss knew a thing or two about persistence. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) was born on March 2, 1904. The first published book that he both wrote and illustrated was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. But getting it published required persistence - it was rejected 27 times before being published by Vanguard Press.
It takes persistence to achieve your goals.
John Roebling envisioned a massive bridge. Though other bridge building experts tried to dissuade Roebling telling him his plans were unrealistic, he could not abandon his vision. He shared his dream with his son Washington, who was an engineering officer in the Union army during the Civil War. Together they developed designs and concepts. John was taking some compass readings while standing on some pilings at a ferry slip and did not notice that a boat was docking. One of his feet was caught between the pilings. His injured toes were amputated and he died of tetanus shortly after the accident on July 22, 1869.
Washington Roebling took over the project, beginning construction in 1870. Tragedy struck again in 1872 when Washington emerged from one of the deeply sunk caisson foundations at the bottom of the river stricken with “the bends.” He was paralyzed from the waist down.
In spite of his handicap, Washington still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. Although he could not speak well, he managed to communicate details of the operation to Emily, his wife. At first all communication was by hand pressures and Washington slowly developed a code of communication with Emily.
Washington relied on Emily to relay his orders to the foremen. To fill his shoes, she studied civil engineering and many suspected, even at the time, that many of the orders came from her.
For 13 years Washington communicated instructions to Emily, until the bridge was finally completed and opened on May 24, 1883. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge that connects New York with Long Island stands as a tangible monument to Emily’s love and devotion, who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband Washington and told the engineers what to do. The Brooklyn Bridge is a tribute to the triumph of one couple’s persistence, indomitable spirit, and determination not to be defeated by circumstances.
The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realized with determination and persistence, no matter the odds.
When I was production manager on The Simpsons, I received submissions from many artists who wanted to work on the show. I received packages on a regular basis from one artist in particular who got my attention because she persisted-consistently sending sample drawings and notes and other items-always indicating her desire to work on The Simpsons. After a few months, this artist sent a box of chocolates with a drawing and note. I finally had the ammunition I needed. I went to the producer’s office and submitted the candy and most recent note to the producer, asking that the artist be hired as a production assistant-we desperately needed help in that area. Bev reported for work early the next day eager to help and learn. She was dedicated and hard working and soon made friends with many of the artists working on the show. Eventually, Bev became an artist on The Simpsons and now still works with many of the artists she met on The Simpsons as a prop designer on Family Guy. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that Bev commuted more than 100 miles every day to work on the show. Now that’s dedication and persistence!