Most of us feel comfortable facing a new project when it’s clear what we’ll have to do to pull it off. But sometimes a new or existing project requires doing a new thing with a procedure we’re not sure how to complete at first glance. Those are the opportunities that can open the door to exceptional professional and personal growth.
Engineering the O’Callaghan–Tillman Memorial Bridge
Parade Magazine featured a fascinating article about the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, a bridge spanning the Colorado River at an incredible height of over 900 feet and located one quarter of a mile downriver from the majestic Hoover Dam. It’s a beautifully simple bridge design that doesn’t overpower the scenery and offers a stunning aerial view of the dam with Lake Mead in the background. Its purpose is to decongest traffic on the dam’s highway drive and the winding roads leading up to the dam by providing a quick bypass.
While reading the article, I was struck by how facing the challenge of the unknown can help to create something incredible. When it came time to acquire the contractors to do the job, the Parade article shared this story:
In 2004, busloads of the world’s top contractors and engineers were brought to the river’s edge to look at the bridge site and decide whether to bid on the project. One veteran bridge builder recalled standing there in awe when he first saw it, and saying, “This is a big hole—bigger than anything I’ve ever spanned. That’s when you have a gut-check time.”
The various contractors had to determine whether they had the know-how to pull off this incredible feat. Each had to compare what they knew from personal experience, what they knew others knew, and consider what wasn’t known.
Current Problem Solving, Amazing Future
We all find ourselves in similar situations in our professional endeavors. We know so much and yet there’s so much to learn all the time. Most of the time the learning provides not only a solution for the project we’re currently working on, but also opens the door to more potential solutions in the future.
When we learn how to solve the current problem, we gain knowledge that changes us. In turn, we can do even bigger things in the future. It’s inspiring to know that greater things can be attempted and that future challenges can be looked upon as wonderful opportunities to grow and help others.
Dave Zanetell, the project manager for the O’Callaghan-Tillman Bridge, said after they completed the project, “Now that we’re finished, we have an obligation to take this sense of possibility and go do 10 more amazing things.”
What amazing things will you bring to the world? Facing the unknown can open doors to new possibilities.