Goal Achievement – Building Up A Head Of Steam!

"goal achievement" "Gordon Bryan" "The Great Gordino"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.
"Goal achievement" "Gordon Bryan"
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,
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for email updates of new articles, via the box at the top right of any page!
P.P.S. Here’s another article you might enjoy – Are You Allowing Your Dreams To Soar This Year?

Do leave a comment!

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  • Sometimes, it is very easy to forget about the good things that our country did in the past, and I’m sure will do in the future, we just need to get people setting goals and striving towards them now, to take us forward

    • Very nicely put Mike! It’s all about taking the decision and backing it up with action to get things done. People say that the establishment is too restrictive, but stories like this show that even way back then people from lower classes could still push through establishment, and it changed the world!

  • What a great post with lots of interesting information, GG! I enjoy the fact that you constantly are getting ideas for articles (or posts) because that’s the way I tend to operate, too–although if I don’t have a card or something to write it on, I tend to forget it. I like your line “Look to those that have already achieved your goal, look how they did it, and then do the same.” Although my mind automatically added “better” to the end!

    • Hi Amy,
      yes, I have a text file I can just whack article ideas in. As for following others and doing it ‘better’, nothing wrong with that, but it’s not always necessary. I also think that is a bridge to cross further down the road once action has been taken and you will find out how it goes when it’s done ‘your way’,

  • See, I see this in a completely different light. It’s often true that the inventor is NEVER the one to profit from his (it is typically a he) invention- instead, the mimicker managers to steal the pot of gold.
    I have always tried to make sure that mine was the one that made the mint- even if it meant I were less willing to share some of the features with the world…

    • Interesting you should say that Roy, as I came across this while watching the documentaries.
      When James Watt did improve the Newcomen engine, he and his partner took out a patent on any device which used his improvement – anyone using it had to pay them a commission, and it made them very rich.
      On the other hand, when Tim Berners Lee invented to world wide web, he decided it should be freely available to all.

  • Hey GG,

    you are such a prolific writer man – where do all these great ideas come from???

    I love this post, and I really connect with the analogies you use. It’s not the first time your posts have given me, or at least ‘reminded’ me, of core basics. I find it so easy to ‘wander’ from the path and I really appreciate posts like this that really cause me to re-think and re-focus.

    OK, now that I’m back on track, – thanks so much GG

    • Ha! Thanks Paul,
      I love spotting things during my day to write about – a news story, a TV programme, something I see walking round the block.
      If I see something I can relate to my favourite subjects, it gets written!
      Glad you find them helpful, I do try and focus on core messages so I appreciate it when someone gets benefit.