By Susan Ford Collins
Over the years I’ve asked highly successful inventors how they made their discoveries, and the answers they gave me were frequently the same: the chemical spilled; the formula overheated; the wrong ingredients were mixed and—BAM—they invented it. (Latin inventus, “to come upon.”) With their outcome clearly in mind, opportunities came “out of the blue.” And they were able to spot them and use them.
Here's an example. In 1993, David Levy along with Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker spent months in the Palomar Observatory preparing to photograph a comet that had been drawn into Jupiter’s gravitational field and fractured into 21 pieces that would strike its surface like a string of bullets. Everything was ready until they discovered someone had opened the film box by mistake and exposed the film. Doubt set in. It was overcast so seeing the comet at all was highly unlikely but, committed to their outcome, they decided “to go for it.” So they pulled out film exposed along the edges and started shooting, hoping it would be usable in the middle.
When Carolyn inspected the film later, there was the comet in the middle of the first shot! This almost-missed photograph heralded a major astronomical event… the first collision of two solar system bodies ever observed. Because of their persistence and their profound pictures, the comet was named Shoemaker-Levy 9.
There were other challenges connected with photographing this event. The Galileo probe was in the right place at the right time, not because of careful planning and scientific precision, but because its launch had been delayed; its antennae which had been stored too long, failed to open; and Galileo needed to be reprogrammed in flight. Where was the comet when Galileo was finally ready? Straight ahead and perfectly positioned to record the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet crashing into Jupiter, sending up a six-mile high plume and creating a bruise the size of Earth on its surface.
Things went wrong. It looked impossible. They almost lost hope. But with everyone focused on getting those pictures, the process unfolded in divine time and order. Call it intention or prayer… either way the ability to hold an outcome and seize out-of-the-blue opportunities is one of the astounding powers we have been given. And the 7th Success Skill is the one we need to take advantage of this power.
When did obstacles and interferences become reasons to give up your outcome? When did discomfort and disagreement change your mind and course? What other outcome did you end up with... one you wanted, or one that didn't really matter to you? That left you disappointed? And when did you hold an outcome—a mission, commitment, goal or dream—all the way to completion? When did you feel the satisfaction and the power of the 7th Success Skill? Would you like to do it more often?
© 2015 Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.