Learn from Historic Dreamers

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Learn from historic dreamers
The future is created by those who dare to dream the previously unimaginable.


Learn from Historic Dreamers

One thing every human shares in common is the ability to learn from historic dreamers. History’s stage abounds with tales of those who dared to think differently from the crowd; who dared to dream bigger dreams than were previously thought achievable; and who dared to act on their beliefs. They were often ridiculed for their courage by those whose brains wouldn’t allow their own minds to stretch beyond their current boundaries. Sometimes these dreamers were persecuted for their ‘silly nonsense’. Many would fade away in the face of such adversity, but others stood firm and held strongly to their ideas.


The Perception of Danger

Canadian Pacific Railway Carriage
Early Canadian Pacific Railway Carriage

Humans tend to default to what they know to be safe and comfortable when faced with the unknown and potentially dangerous or scary. It’s part of our genetic framework to seek safety above all else, and after all, that has helped humanity to survive since we first stepped on dry land.

Fortunately, the advancement of human capabilities has been prodded by those who have bigger beliefs, those who seek to challenge the status quo, and who have often been willing, historically, to put their own personal safety at risk to prove that their dreams are in fact possible. This has often been driven by social or noble motives and aspirations, and frequently by those who were willing to sacrifice for the ‘greater good’.


The Last Spike

The Last Spike from historic dreamers
The Last Spike from historic dreamers

The example I have chosen for you today is one of a story probably known mostly only to Canadians or to visiting tourists, that of ‘the Last Spike’.

At the top of the page I’ve melded two photographs that I took in 2023 at Craigellachie in British Columbia, where a historic scene is depicted. Imagine the size of the dream when it was first proposed that a railway line could be laid nearly three thousand miles, from sea to sea across a vast continent, traversing prairies, mountain passes, canyons and streams. They would have had to deal with incredible, tortuous weather conditions, grizzly bears, wolves and other dangerous animals that would have loved to have ripped them to pieces, with the raising of huge amounts of funding from those who shared in the dream, and with the sacrifices of many contributors towards a common goal.

This scene depicts the striking of the last railway spike to complete that epic undertaking back on November 7th, 1885. This ceremonial spike was driven in by multi-millionaire, Canadian Pacific Railway financier, Sir Donald Smith, whose title was Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, a Scottish born, Canadian entrepreneur, who also governed the famous Hudson’s Bay Company. Not only that, but he was also a generous man who gave away millions of dollars and pounds to charitable causes across Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.A. He funded many universities, hospitals and medical research. I won’t go on about him now, but he looks like a character I’d like to learn a lot more about. The engineer was another very successful businessman and philanthropist, James Ross.

From what I’ve already learned, I’m sure that as a leading figure in the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Sir Donald thoroughly deserved the accolade of driving in that last spike, though I’m confident he would have readily acknowledged the huge team effort involved.


The Lesson from the Story

The fulfillment of a dream
The fulfillment of a dream – a transcontinental railway.

It seems unclear exactly who was responsible for the ‘ridiculous notion’ of a transcontinental railway line, but with the benefit of hindsight, we can connect the dots backwards from today’s space exploration to the early days of railway lines connecting trade routes and even back to the crazy idea that the world wasn’t flat!

That which seems unimaginable to most of us today is often challenged by those who dare to dream and to ask the big question, ‘What if?’

So, I commend you to reflect on what you currently take for granted and allow yourself time to daydream. You never know what genius may be lying dormant within you. Oh and by the way, if you want to discuss your ideas with a proven coach, feel free to get in touch with me!



Tony Inman

Tony Inman is an author of several books, mostly in the self-help arena. An entrepreneur with over 40 years of leadership & management experience in numerous companies in Europe and Australia, Tony has founded many of his own businesses in several fields, employing hundreds of staff and generating millions of dollars. He has worked with thousands of people, including many small business owners all over the world to develop and implement strategies for effective change and the achievement of their unique definition of success.

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