July 21, 2022 by Dymphna

They thought the Brooklyn Bridge would collaps

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

There’s a story I love about the Brooklyn Bridge.

In May of 1883, the newly built bridge opened for traffic.

Spanning the East River to link Manhattan and Brooklyn, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was an engineering wonder.

But people had said that it couldn’t be done. Many people had attacked the idea – criticising the politicians who had commissioned it and slandering the engineers who had taken it on.

And so by the time it opened, people were sceptical. Rumours spread that it as unstable. People thought that it would crumble and fall, like old London Bridge.

And so they stayed away in droves. It was engineering wonder but it was shaping to be a commercial flop.

But then the charismatic showman P.T Barnum stepped in – of Barnum’s Three Ring Circus fame. He is probably hands down the most famous circus promoter of all time.

And what did he do?

He marched 21 elephants across the bridge. It was front-page news, and the rumours around the bridge quickly died. The bridge became a hive of activity.

There’s a lot I love about this story.

First, why is 21 elephants more convincing than 21 buses? It makes no sense. But it’s such a powerful visual image and such a powerful statement, that it was the perfect way to put those rumours to bed.

Second, the best way to prove that something can be done is to just do it.

I see this a lot with my students. Their friends and family are sceptical. They don’t believe that other students are actually getting the result they’re getting.

The students themselves, particularly if they’ve been to the events, know what’s possible. They’ve seen it first hand. But they have a heckuva time convincing their loved ones about it.

And so they try to show them the numbers. They try to show them the case studies. They try to give them theoretical proof.

But none of it helps.

The only thing to do is to march 21 elephants across the bridge. The only thing to do is just get out there and do it, and let the results speak for themselves.

How’s that old Chinese saying go? “Don’t let the one who says it can’t be done interrupt the one who is doing it.”

It’s like that. Sometimes the only thing you can do to satisfy the sceptics is just get out there and put a successful deal together.

Put $50K in your bank account and then people will sit up and take notice.

There’s just no point arguing with those who say it can’t be done.

Until they see those 21 elephants for themselves, they’ll never believe it.