On June 4, 1783 at the market square of a French village of Annonay, not far from
Paris, a smoky bonfire on a raised platform was fed by wet straw and old wool rags.
Tethered above, straining its lines, was a huge taffeta bag 33 feet in diameter. In the
presence of "a respectable assembly and a great many other people," and
accompanied by great cheering, the balloon was cut from its moorings and set free to rise
majestically into the noon sky. Six thousand feet into the air it went -- the first public
ascent of a balloon, the first step in the history of human flight. It came to earth
several miles away in a field, where it was promptly attacked by pitchfork-waving peasants
and torn to pieces as an instrument of evil!
Today in the Word, July 15, 1993.
When Jean-Claude Killy made the French national ski team in the early 1960s, he was
prepared to work harder than anyone else to be the best. At the crack of dawn he would run
up the slopes with his skis on, an unbelievably grueling activity. In the evening he would
lift weights, run sprints--anything to get an edge. But the other team members were
working as hard and long as he was. He realized instinctively that simply training harder
would never be enough. Killy then began challenging the basic theories of racing
technique. Each week he would try something different to see if he could find a better,
faster way down the mountain. His experiments resulted in a new style that was almost
exactly opposite the accepted technique of the time. It involved skiing with his legs
apart (not together) for better balance and sitting back (not forward) on the skis when he
came to a turn. He also used ski poles in an unorthodox way--to propel himself as he
skied. The explosive new style helped cut Killy's racing times dramatically. In 1966 and
1967 he captured virtually every major skiing trophy. The next year he won three gold
medals in the Winter Olympics, a record in ski racing that has never been topped. Killy
learned an important secret shared by many creative people: innovations don't require
genius, just a willingness to question the way things have always been done.
Reader's Digest, Oct, 1991, p. 61.
Perhaps you may remember Hank Luisetti, the great basketball player of a few decades
back. When Hank came along, virtually every basketball coach in the country insisted that
his players shoot with two hands. Instead of two hands, Hank used a jerky, funny-looking,
one-handed jump shot. His coach, looking for results rather than method, was smart enough
to let him use it. The rest is basketball history--today almost everybody uses Hank's
one-handed jump shot.