Day before yesterday night, all I wanted to do on getting home was spend some time playing a game of soccer on PS3, and go to sleep. I wanted to free my mind, and let my hair down. While I was warming up to do this however, a program on Discovery channel caught my fancy.
It was the building of the biggest bridge in the world in Japan. It was already after midnight, but my eyes could not shut, neither could my brain, as I saw beyond the bridges, and got inspired.
The Japanese were trying to build a bridge to span over about 4km in deep waters and in one of the most earthquake prone regions of the world. characteristically, they didn’t just set out to build, they analyzed the situation, developed a plan of action, and went on to execute with excellence. The entire project took about 7yrs – they started in July 1989 and finished around 1996, but as they moved from stage to stage and celebrated their successes, I was able to observe the DNA of any successful enterprise or life. Read on.
The fisrt challenge they had was planting a silos shaped brick framework into the belly of the seabed. They had to use about 100 ships, all tied to the silo at different calculated angles, and all moving with radio tight communication with precision as they moved the silos (2) into the center of the water, so that it can serve as the support system for the bridge. When they got to the water center, they needed to sink the structures 60m into the ground. They had to create a weight on the inside of the silos to push it down and dredge the ground as well. They had to go back to the drawing board, and eventually came up with a sequence that worked. It involved pumping water into the silos and dredging at the same time. After they successfully planted the silos, they discoverd that they needed to make it stay, and this would involve the use of cement to solidify the structure. This was their first major challenge. They had figured out most things, but they hadn’t figured this out. So they had to invent another type of cement that could solidify under water. they had to change the composition of the cement, tried it out, and it worked.
After they planted the silos solidly in the belly of the seabed, they went ahead to put the brick structures on it that will support the 4km long bridge. They had to go back to the drawing board and test different designs. The built two structures and it took them about 5months. After developing the structures, the next challenge was building the actual bridge and the supporting structure for the bridge. This supporting structure was meant to be a 1m wide cable hanging from the towering brick structures on the silo’s joining the two structures together. They needed to ensure it wasn’t too heavy that it pulled the bridge down by itself, they had to make sure that the bridge had allowances for wind and turbulence in it. They had to invent another type of steel rod, they had to arrange rods numbering 37,000 in a particular formation, lay them one by one and bind them altogether. They had to use an helicopter to lay the first rod, it was similar to threading a needle with a jet – it took 84hrs to lay one. It was awesome! They were out to build a lasting bridge, one that would not make the mistakes of the bridges that America had that had collapsed. It was a monster project, one rod of 2km length weighed more than the titanic, yet the bridge stood and still stands. they did a lot of things they didn’t plan to do in the beginning, and celebrated every milestone. If they never started, they would never have finished!
In life, we must think ahead, but we must never be stuck in our thinking. We must create natural bus-stops in our life’s journey, and innovate as we go. I discovered that inventions were not born out of a love for invention or curiousity. Inventions are born because people decided to embark on impossible projects, and search for quick answers to unseen problems. If they never embarked on that bridge, that type of cement would never be necessary, that type of steel will not be needed, and so many things would never have happened.
I regularly reach bus-stops in my life’s journey, where I’m faced with unseen problems. I have a plan for many things, but like I was told in a dream I had some days back, “no matter how much clarity you have, you’ll not see some things”. Never let the lack of clarity stop you, start now, innovate later. At the instance of challenges, we must innovate as we go, we must find creative solutions. Great enterprises are built like that, great lives are built like that.
Don’t give up, giving up is not an option. Every challenge ultimately gives up to those who are obstinate about their purpose. The question, is the reason for the answer, to ask nothing, is to have nothing. What question is life throwing at you, the answer will surface if you stick with it, get God’s help and think!