Jack Ridley said, “There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. His controls would freeze up, his plane would buffet wildly, and he would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, 750 miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man would ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.”

On 16 March 1945, the army contracted Bell Aircraft to build three XS-1 (later X-1) aircraft, which were designed to break the sound barrier. The idea was to send the X-1 on a number of flights, each time edging a little closer to Mach 1. Bell Aircraft’s test pilot, “Slick” Goodlin, had been making these flights and had reached Mach 0.8 when the plane shook violently. The pilot demanded a (then) massive bonus of US$150K to fly the plane up to Mach 1.

The army refused, and Chuck Yeager was given the job of piloting the X-1. Despite the possible consequences, Yeager turned up to work each day and did his job for his normal salary of $30 per day. He flew planes. They were not perfect, but with his help, they got better and better and better.

On 14 October 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier. This was due to the fact that he didn’t wait for his plane to be perfect before he flew it. He just wanted it to keep getting better.

I have often watched people in business become bogged down with planning their business to death, and not doing anything until they have the perfect solution. If you take this out of context, this rule could be taken as advocating mediocrity. On the contrary, it is actually advocating action. If you find that you have made a wrong decision, then…make another one!

The journey of a million miles starts with one step, but you have to make that first step. Make that decision to start, and be prepared to change tack if need be, but act and don’t be afraid of mistakes. After all, 100 per cent of projects not started are not finished! The only people who don’t make mistakes are those still planning their business and not actually doing anything.

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