Search and Find
Can You Believe in Something You Cannot See?
During the gold rush days in Colorado, a man named R.U. Darby and his uncle went west in search of gold. With only a pick and a shovel, they dug and dug until they finally struck the shiny gold ore. But they needed specialized machinery to bring the gold to the surface. They quietly buried their small mine and went back east to Williamsburg, Maryland and told a few relatives and neighbors of their find. They convinced them to invest and loan them the money they needed to buy the equipment and had it shipped to the mine.
They brought up the first car of ore and shipped it to the smelter. The results showed that there was indeed gold in that mine. A few more cars of this gold would pay their debts and then they could start reaping enormous profits. But then tragedy struck. The vein of gold disappeared. They searched and searched—desperate to pick up the vein again. But no luck. They continued drilling in vain and after a few more weeks of frustration, they gave up. They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars and took the train back home.
In the meantime, the junk man called a mining engineer to look at the mine. The engineer took some calculations and concluded that the project had failed because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” The junk man took over the drilling and found the vein of gold within three feet of where the Darbys had stopped drilling! The mine turned out to be one of the biggest gold mines ever discovered in Colorado.
Why would the Darby’s have given up when they were so close? The surface level answer is because they could not find the vein of gold. But the real answer lies beneath the surface. They gave up because they had stopped believing. Moreover, their beliefs were based on sound logic. The evidence seemed to support their beliefs. After searching, and searching, and searching, they could not find the vein of gold anywhere. They were tired, and running low on cash. But if they had truly believed there was a mountain of gold within their reach, they could have found a way to hire an engineer just like the junk man did, right? Surely they had enough cash to dig three more feet, right? If the Darbys had kept believing, it would have prompted their brain to come up with the creative solutions they needed to achieve their wildest dreams.
Throughout history, scientists, legendary entrepreneurs, and innovators believed in things that could not be seen, touched, smelled, heard or tasted. They believed in solutions no one else could see. Solutions that they alone knew existed. Solutions that became obvious only after these entrepreneurs and innovators pulled back the curtain. In fact, it turns out, this ability was their best kept secret. Do you have the ability to believe in something you cannot see?
The most important factor that determined whether the seeker found the solution was, first and foremost, whether he believed it existed. You will not begin to look for something in earnest unless you truly believe it exists. It’s like when you can’t find your car keys, but you know they are somewhere in the house because you could not have driven home without them. You will not stop searching until you find them because you know for sure they are somewhere in the house. It takes that kind of belief. If you don’t have that kind of belief, you will never invest the right amount of time, energy, and brain cells into trying to find the solution.
Just like the car keys, everything you want, and everything you need is somewhere in the world around you. And it’s closer than you think. All you have to do is develop the ability to sense it, feel it, see it, and hear it. But first, you have to believe it. Belief gives birth to passion. Passion gives birth to action.
The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” has been around a long time. But it is only partially true. The Darbys had a great “necessity.” But the necessity alone yielded no solution. Many people throughout history have been in desperate need of a solution, but never found one. You see, necessity may be the mother of invention, but she still needs a father to plant a seed in her. Belief is the father of invention. Belief is the most powerful generator of ideas the world has ever known. Belief energizes you to keep looking for solutions, to keep hoping when everyone else has given up. It motivates you. It inspires you. It gets you out of bed in the morning. It keeps you up late at night. It drives you to keep turning over stones until you find the right answer.
But, what about the people who believed with no logical reason to believe, and no tangible clue in the first place to inspire that belief? We call them unrealistic fools, lunatics, delusional, and neurotic. And yes, some of them were. But some of those crazy people, who believed with only a hunch to go on, changed the history of the world.
In the U.S. Army, the Rangers, an elite fighting force, are required as part of their training to go through rigorous survival exercises in which they must eat bugs and leaves and suffer extreme physical conditions. This training teaches them that there is always a solution to their problem somewhere nearby. It builds confidence, layer by layer, and ingrains well-worn paths and patterns in their brains that they follow instinctively if they ever encounter a similar situation in real life. They come to believe that, even when they are in grave danger, there might be alternatives to death, if they choose to exercise them. This belief allows them to see potential sources of food, shelter and weapons that others might not see.
On June 2, 1995, Captain Scott O’Grady’s F-16 was shot down by a Bosnian Serb surface-to-air missile while trying to enforce the NATO no-fly zone over Bosnia. He was hunted and shot at by the Serbs, but he escaped and survived for six days behind enemy lines by eating grass, leaves, and ants and collecting rainwater to drink. He was ultimately rescued in a harrowing mission. In his book Return With Honor, Captain O’Grady relates two stories that were constantly on his mind while he was evading capture and trying to survive.
The first story was about a man who was stranded eight days in the Arizona desert without food or water. He lost 25 percent of his body weight from lack of water. This is normally fatal. His blood was so thick that his lacerations could not bleed. The man had made every mistake in the book. He survived not because of his training or survival skills, but because of his will to live. He simply refused to die.1
The second story was about a civilian pilot who was forced to land on a frozen lake in Canada when his engine failed. He was not hurt. He saw a wooded shoreline approximately two hundred yards away, which was a potential source of food and shelter. He started off across the lake and made it halfway, but not knowing what he would encounter when he got to the woods, he lost hope and returned to the plane. When he arrived at the plane, he smoked a cigar, took a pistol out and shot himself in the head. Less than twenty-four hours later, a rescue team came upon his body. Was it the circumstances that determined his fate or an internal decision that there was no hope?
These two stories kept reminding Captain O’Grady that he must keep believing and keep hoping against hope that he would survive and be rescued. It gave him the motivation and the energy to keep struggling no matter what—and it worked. Captain O’Grady survived and became a national hero. The decision behind his decision was to believe and keep trying. This belief allowed him to see and hear options that kept him alive until he was rescued.
The U.S. Military has learned what the rest of us need to learn: the most dangerous and daunting circumstances alone cannot defeat us. Our circumstances need help from us in order to prevail. The problem itself is never the real problem. It’s what we believe about the problem that determines the outcome of any given situation. You can literally turn your fate around by learning to respond properly in any given situation. But first you have to make a conscious decision to believe that you can survive and prosper. This belief will help you see that there are other viable options to defeat. Then you’ve got to make a decision to pursue them.
The power of belief is what gave Columbus the courage to dedicate his whole life to finding a route to the East by traveling in the opposite direction. It’s what gave the Wright Brothers the ability to conceive of and create the first successful manned flight. Without this ability, Steve Jobs could not have come up with iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone, or the iPad. Without it, Mark Zuckerberg could not have come up with Facebook. Without it, the internet would not exist. Cell phones would be a fantasy. Texting would be a joke. Flying 500 mph at 30,000 feet above the earth in a hunk of metal that weighs 975,000 pounds would be sheer lunacy.
Unless Alexander Graham Bell actually believed it was possible to transmit understandable words over a pair of wires we would have no telephones or cell phones. If Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison had not truly believed that the bolts of lightning we see in the sky could be captured and placed into a small glass bulb, we could not command the power of electricity today with the flick of a switch. Indeed Benjamin Franklin’s belief was so strong that he was willing to risk being killed by a lightning strike. Belief is...