First Hot Balloon
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 wentthe 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!
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 sprintsanything 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 wayto propel himself as he skied. The explosive new style helped cut Killys 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 dont require genius, just a willingness to question the way things have always been done.
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 historytoday almost everybody uses Hanks one-handed jump shot.