Faster Than Sound

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The world's smartest people thought this might be impossible 80 years ago.
The world’s smartest people thought this might be impossible 80 years ago.

Bullets could do it.

Cannon balls could do it.

But no one knew whether a human being could do it.

The smartest people in the world didn’t know whether it was possible for an airplane—or a person inside—to withstand the physical pressures of travelling faster than sound.

There was only one way to find out: Try.

It required a group of people dedicated to the mission and the will to build something theoretically capable.

A group of people willing to ignore conventional wisdom. Who wouldn’t listen to the excuses for why they couldn’t.

And it required courage. Someone brave enough to be the first to do something new and different and dangerous.

A decade later, on Oct. 14, 1947, a huge boom reverberated across the Mojave Desert.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager piloted a rocket-powered plane faster than the speed of sound—the first known instance of man breaking the sound barrier.

A little hard work and bravery.

Changed the world.

What If?

I’m not a very brave person sometimes.

As a single guy, not a week goes by where I don’t see some girl I wish I had the courage to talk to, but I rarely do. Because I’m irrationally afraid of rejection as if I’ll be sitting around five years from now (or even five days from now) giving two shits about being rejected by some stranger I may have ended up not liking anyway.

And of course, she might say yes.

But sometimes I am brave. Sometimes I have the courage to ask. And sometimes they say yes.

There are moments when I feel awesome. Maybe it’s because I’m looking handsome-ish. Maybe it’s because my jokes are working. Maybe it’s because I’m surrounded by friends. Maybe it’s because of magic.

I don’t know how to bottle that magic, otherwise I would and drink it every day.

What if we could bottle that magic?

One of the world’s most-brilliant marketers is a man named Seth Godin.

He wrote this yesterday:

Happy wowday

Halloween gives you permission to dress up. April Fool’s, a chance to play a prank.

What if there was one day of the year where you had permission to do things that made people say, “wow.”

Acts of generosity or bravery or insight…

What if you focused and practiced and got your nerve up and leaned way over the edge, just one day of the year? If you could get out of your comfort zone for a few hours in a way that benefitted and delighted people you care about, what would that look and feel like?

Today might be your wowday.

Or tomorrow.

Up to you.

That guy often gets my wheels turning in ways others cannot.

I love being rebellious. Challenging the bullshit I observe. It’s because I almost never do it, and when I do, it’s because I strongly believe in whatever I’m fighting for or against.

My job in Corporate America has bullshit rules.

And our domesticated lives in the suburbs have bullshit rules.

And we walk around doing so many things—school, work, church, marriage, etc.—because we’re programmed like robots from the womb to do them.

A girl I went to high school with in Ohio moved to London for nearly three years.

Some of you are like: “Yeah, Matt. No big deal. People do things like that.”

Others are like me.

Move to another country? Are you insane? That’s big and scary and wayyyyy outside the box!

And listen, I don’t want to move to another country. I like the States. A lot. I live here on purpose. But it’s really just a metaphor for all of these things we do, somewhat thoughtlessly. Because it was sort of pounded into our heads from a young age that this is just what you do.

Is it?

It’s okay to do these things because we want to. Because we choose to. But, because we were brainwashed to? Because of habit?

Some habits are bad. Even if most other people do them, too.

Bullets broke the sound barrier before man because bullets are smart enough to stay out of their own way. That probably isn’t true. Bullets probably aren’t very smart at all.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.

If we strip away the doubt—all of the excuses for not doing something. If we ignore the people who tell us we can’t do it—that we’re not good enough. If we challenge the status quo—can’t we change the world like Yeager and his flight team?

Can’t we be bullets?

Can’t we break the sound barrier?

What if the only thing we did today was make or do something that made people say “wow”?

Just a bunch of people making magic?

I bet people would hear that for miles and miles.

I bet people would write about that day.

21 thoughts on “Faster Than Sound”

  1. Love this..a wowday…that is brilliant! I hear ya, on the wishing for being able to put that magic in a bottle and drink it, every day. But then it wouldn’t be magic. Some days I feel so small and other days it all comes together and I think that’s maybe how it’s supposed to be? I am going to be thinking of what might make others say ‘wow’ – thank you!

    1. You’re so welcome.

      Godin’s post had me thinking about this stuff a lot yesterday and today.

      He asks very good questions. Challenging our beliefs in very good ways.

      Thank you very much for reading.

      1. I’ve heard of him, I think I am going to have to go and read some of his work…I like how you describe him. 🙂

  2. Again, you make another wonderful Godin reference.

    Conventional is boring, predictable. Every day should be anticipated to be a wow day, but every day cannot be, and this so-called failure should not bring anyone down. It’s all about thinking about tomorrow and down the road. It’s about breaking the redundancy and doing something different, but keeping the same promises, routines.

    1. I like that.

      “Every day should be anticipated to be a wow day, but every day cannot be, and this so-called failure should not bring anyone down. It’s all about thinking about tomorrow and down the road.”

      Well said, sir.

      And yes. Godin. He absolutely delights me some days. And yesterday was one of those days.

  3. I believe, personally, that I beat the odds and wow myself on a regular basis. Not in big magnanimous ways but in small ways that build me up every day. Today, I got up, put on a smile and a really cute outfit, went to work a job I can’t stand. Wow. No one really notices much. Mostly because I don’t go around proclaiming “LOOK WHAT I DID TODAY!!”
    I’m ok with that…I wow myself…and sometimes those days are way more better than any day spent wowing other people.
    I would like to have a day just for that purpose. Unfortunately being the rebel that I am I’d probably waste the day in my pajamas and applaud everyone else wowing the world.

  4. Why are you asking “what if”? Go out there and do it young man!
    I do it all of the time – people are always saying “wow” about me and the things I do. Of course, they aren’t always saying it in a positive way, but by God, they are saying it! 🙂

    Go, do! Be inspired by the words you read and put it into action! Then come tell me all about it! 🙂

  5. Not even kidding, when I first started reading your post, I was like, “WOW! I really like the way this guy writes! It really reminds me of Seth Godin!” And then I got to the part about Seth Godin and I started doing an inconspicuous little happy dance because, seriously, he is AMAZING and I feel like all his posts are like zen pep talks in my inbox every morning. I know a lot of people read his stuff, but I have never actually “met” another one in the wilds of the Internet. So yeah!

    One of the most frustrating things, I’ve found, is that in order to be brave, I also have to agree to be scared for a little while. But what’s funny is that after the fact, I remember the fruits of my bravery more than I do the fear. I lived overseas once too, and the first night in my new bed was partially terrifying. I wouldn’t take it back, though.

    1. This made me smile a lot. Thank you.

      Yes. We have to be scared a little. The accomplishment — big or small — isn’t very sweet without being brave.

      What a flattering thing to have you say I write even kinda sorta like Seth. That’s quite the thing to read. Thank you so much.

  6. Seems simple doesn’t it? Scares the crap out of me. Hmmm. Open the door and walk through…(example)…are we scared of the consequences..because it won’t happen like we desire or are we afraid that it will? There are no excuses after we do. It’s been proven-no going back-can’t put the genie back in 😀 .

    I tend to force myself into a corner or off a cliff–I’m doing that this week in fact–oh dear. Hope you are well–I’m playing catch up. Take care – Amy 🙂

    1. Things are okay! Thank you for the well-wishes. Forcing yourself into corners is–generally–safer and has more happy endings than throwing yourself off a cliff. So, maybe stay away from the cliffs. Corners, you can fight your way out of.

      Have a good day, Amy. 🙂

      1. Thanks for that, Matt. 😀 . Ok, sink or swim philosophy? My dad actually did that when I was little. I thought I would drown-I really did. He wasn’t a mean person–just thought I needed a push. He was right. Have great day and great weekend! 😀

  7. “What if the only thing we did today was make or do something that made people say “wow”?” Great line, actually I really thought this whole post was great. I liked what you said about being able to bottle the magic about those times when you do feel confident and brave, I wish I could do that.

    1. Thank you so much. I liked this post, too. Mr. Godin is very inspiring and I enjoy the things he gets me thinking about. I appreciate you reading it. 🙂

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Matt Fray

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