Building a dream is a lot like building a robot.
My sons are involved in a FIRST Robotics team and are trying to build a robot. I say trying because, truth be told, six weeks ago they didn’t have the foggiest idea how to even begin. Six weeks ago, if you had told Davy and Daryl they needed to build a robot, they would have looked at you with that look that only teenage boys can give. Then they would have shaken their heads and walked away.
Take a look at this video – this is what they watched for the very first time on January 7 when this year’s challenge was issued.
Yet now, six weeks later, if you gave them that exact same challenge, they would be off and running. They wouldn’t know what to do, but they would know how to find out – and they know it’s all about taking it one step at a time and seeing where that leads.
It’s also about falling down and getting back up. Over and over and over again.
I had to laugh at the beginning of this process. As I drove my boys home after a build session I would ask them what they worked on that evening. “I don’t know what it’ll be,” they inevitably told me. “It’s a little case that will sit on the chasse.”
Now, a mere six weeks later, I ask them the same question and get answers like,
- “I built a prototype of the belt system we’ll use to move the ball from the gym floor to the shooter.”
- “I was building a camera mount for a camera that will look at retro-reflective tape on the basket to determine the speed and angle we’ll need to shoot.”
- “I helped design the octocanum system for our drive train.”
This robot of theirs needs to be bagged up Tuesday night and they won’t see it again until competition in Salt Lake City. They’ve got a grand total of 60 hours from now to get this thing running and learn how to drive it.
And then last night, the motor casing broke and will need to be rebuilt with stronger materials.
Unlike adults, my sons have been calm and confident through this whole process. They never reached the point where panic set in and they looked ahead at all the steps that needed to happen and realized there was no way to get there from here. They didn’t second guess themselves or doubt their (and their mentors’) capabilities. They just forged ahead and took it all one step at a time.
And each step led to the next.
A week before they received this years’ challenge, the team watched this video.
If the whole world was populated with kindergartners, think of what we could accomplish!
Lessons about building a dream learned by building a robot
- Know what your big goal is, but…
- You don’t have to know how to get there when you start
- Forge ahead and build many prototypes until you find one that works
- Know that each step will lead you to the next
- Find a mentor. It’s easier if you aren’t standing all alone
- There will be roadblocks and obstacles. Know you’re capable of finding a way around when they happen
- Panic doesn’t help
What other advice can you give to someone wanting to build a dream?