These are the "needles" in the needles highway

“Needles” on the Needles Highway courtesy of robotbrainz on Flickr

Imagine being in a forest of sewing needles soaring thousands of feet above your head. You’d feel like  a “Who” in Dr. Seuss’s classic Horton Hears A Who, wouldn’t you?

That’s what it’s like when you ride the Needles Highway in Custer State Park near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

The Needles are spires of igneous rock that the ground has receded from through the centuries, leaving them soaring to the sky. There’s nothing like a day in nature to put a human in her cosmic place.

The road goes out of its way to preserve natural habitat, passing directly through two of the Needles. You’ve seen pictures of people driving cars through giant Redwood trees, and driving through a needle is a similar experience (I’ve done both).

Move over, “diploma boys”

The man who championed the building of the Needles Highway, Senator Peter Norbeck, didn’t have an engineering degree. What he had was vision. When he proposed to build a scenic road through the Needles, not around them, engineers, whom Norbeck called “diploma boys,” insisted that this was impossible. He had the last laugh, for sure.

I love stories like this that illustrate how vision can spark innovation and render conventional thinking obsolete.

Get a new tribe

But remember what Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter said about naysayers in her book Confidence? (if not, you can read about it in the first installment of this series). The Needles Highway is an example of  how sometimes completely do-able things are delayed or even squelched by the naysayers. Norbeck did what you should do if naysayers are getting in your way: he got a new tribe of people who embraced his vision.

At this point, I must ask, are you being hemmed in by conventional thinking?  Are you letting someone convince you that something you want to do can’t be done? Don’t write off technology and the occasional miracle. I’ve seen them at play in my own life several times.

I’d like to inspire you to break away from conventional thinking with this quote from the French playwright and actor Molière:

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ~ Molière


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