It’s a special day, and this is going to be a special post.
I’ll share a story with you, and I can pretty much guarantee that it’ll make you smile.
Then I’ll let you in on *why* I’m telling you this story – because as much fun as it is, there’s an important insight that I want to share, and there’s a really good reason why I’m sharing it with you *today*.
After that, I’ve got a question for you to ponder. I hope you’ll give it some serious thought, because your business may depend on it!
Is that enough build-up and anticipation? 😉
Okay, let’s start with the story…
The Story: The U.S. Standard Railroad Gauge, and Two Horses’ Asses
I first encountered this story about a month ago, in an email forward from my uncle. I don’t know who wrote it, or whether it’s true – read it for yourself, and reach your own conclusions:
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.
Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.
Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
But why did the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot call for that spacing?
Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.
Two horses’ asses.
Now, here comes the best part. 😉
When you see a space shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.
The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.
Which means that… a major space shuttle design feature – of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system – was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.
Now, I don’t know if any of it is true, but either way, the moral of the story is pretty important.
The moral of the story is this: Even if decisions made sense when they were made, things change, and those decisions can often live waaaaay past the point when they made any sense at all.
So why am I telling you this story TODAY?
It’s my Birthday, and I’m a Horse’s Ass
Yep, that’s right – it’s my birthday! 😀
I was born on July 12, 1983, which means that tomorrow I’ll turn 29 years old.
Birthdays are really good for taking stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going – and I’ve got a lot to take stock of! Here are just a few of the things that happened since my last birthday:
- I got married and went on my honeymoon.
- I published Engagement from Scratch! (which has 69 glowing reviews on Amazon, and has been downloaded over 10,000 times).
- I created Write Like Freddy (and enrolled over 400 students).
- I published How to Build a Blog with Sean Platt.
- I wrote the Naked Marketing Manifesto, which is now turning into a book (and I’m so excited!).
So why am I a horse’s ass?
Because of all the milestones that I just described, and a whole lot more.
Mirasee has grown by an order of magnitude since my last birthday, and the business has become a whole lot more complex. It isn’t just a matter of size, either – the *nature* of my business is very different from what it was just one year ago.
In short, a lot of things have changed.
Which is why – between some time off, a BBQ with my nearest and dearest, and a tiny slice of birthday cake (I’m really not much of a dessert person) – I’ll take some time to re-examine my assumptions.
How much of what I’m doing made sense a year ago, but no longer makes sense today?
I don’t know the answer to that question yet, but I’m going to find out, and change whatever needs to be changed.
And I want to encourage you to do the same.
So ask yourself…
What part of your plans was specified by a horse’s ass? 😉
Things change for all of us.
Your goals and plans were made and set with the best understanding and judgment that you had at the time – but things change, and we all learn and grow.
So take a moment to ask yourself this question:
Does your plan still make sense? Is there anything you might want to rethink or change?
Maybe a small course correction is in order. Or maybe a big one.
Maybe a big opportunity is right in front of you, and you just haven’t taken the time to notice it.
Well, now’s the time to start noticing. Onward and upwards!
Thank you for making it an amazing year!
Of course, there’s no way that I could wrap up a birthday post without saying a giant “thank you” to all the people who have made the year so amazing for me.
I’m talking about all of my co-authors, all of my colleagues, all of my students, and everyone who’s taken the time to download my book, watch my videos, read my manifesto, and leave a comment on the blog.
(Hint: That means YOU!) 😉
You’ve made this year amazing for me, and I can’t thank you enough!
Now I’m off to enjoy a few hours off and that tiny slice of birthday cake. And when I get back, I’ll be working extra hard to try and return the favor. 😀