I saw a documentary recently which gave me an idea for an article. When I saw another documentary featuring the same subject, and then another this week, that was prompting enough, and it’s a goal achievement lesson I write about often…
The first documentary had presenter Guy Martin who loves the industrial revolution, getting his hands dirty by using the actual tools and methods of the time to remind us of how progress was made back then.
That was a few months ago, and I remember being struck by the episode where he helped to restore the last working Newcomen steam engine. (No, I had never heard of Newcomen either)
Then a couple of weeks ago I saw a documentary about how railway was born in Britain, and it featured that same only working Newcomen engine. Hardly surprising if it’s the only one left!
Then last week I saw another documentary about the genius of invention, and guess what it had on the first show? Yep, the Newcomen steam engine, because that invention started the whole revolution.
If I ask you to think of the Industrial Revolution, you may well think of Victorian Britain. Well, right country, wrong era!
Try going back a bit further – how about 300 years all the way back to 1712!
As the century turned, Britain was powered by burning coal, and the more it was mined, the deeper those mines had to go. That caused huge flooding danger, and death was common.
The water was pumped out by buckets, lifted by horses or water wheels, but they could not pump fast enough or go deep enough.
Engineer Thomas Newcomen worked out that although steam by itself would not have enough force to be of any use, if that steam was sealed and condensed it would create a vacuum, and the pressure of that vacuum would be great enough to move pistons, and that *could* be used.
He created what he called the ‘atmospheric steam engine’ in 1712, and it was brilliant.
It changed mining at a stroke, making the power of coal much more accessible. It was so different from anything seen before, that it held sway unchanged for 50 years. In future articles I’ll cover what I saw in the other documentaries – how the Newcomen engine led to the birth of railway, the birth of the factory, and the birth of electricity generation.
Phew, you can see how Newcomen’s engine was such a pivotal invention, the modern world of today can be traced back to it. How, though, does it relate to goal achievement..?
Well, you’ll know the expression “no need to reinvent the wheel” – this time I’ll change it to “no need to reinvent the atmospheric steam engine”. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but the point is the same.
Newcomen’s engine was ground breaking, and did the job it was invented to do. It was not until 50 years later that James Watt *did* reinvent it (another article!), but unless your goal is to push some barriers to new places, you don’t need to reinvent – you can simply follow what others have done.
I don’t know what your goal is (do get in touch and tell me by the way), but is it to do something brand new, or is it to follow in the foot steps of others?
If it *is* something brand new, then great, get stuck in like Newcomen, like Watt, like all the others that came after, and get inventing. If it isn’t brand new though, then don’t add extra stress to the process by worrying about innovating, you just don’t need to.
Something else I’ll add, is that Newcomen realised he had the answer all around him, and it was something in abundant supply. In his case it was literally all around him, the atmosphere! Fast forward to today though, and we still have abundance around us to help towards our goal, an abundance of knowledge!
Knowledge gained by others, and readily available for you to soak up.
Look to those that have already achieved your goal, look how they did it, and then do the same. Tweak it if needed, yes, and that’s something you’ll find out as you go along, but don’t set off thinking you need to reinvent the Newcomen atmospheric steam engine!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
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P.P.S. Here’s another article you might enjoy – Are You Allowing Your Dreams To Soar This Year?