Oct 20, 2009

William's Windmill and Ingenuity

In the recently published book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”, William Kamkwamba narrates the inspirational story of how his own strength of will and brilliant ingenuity overcame great odds and the skeptical views of others to produce something amazing. Kamkwamba relates how, as a fourteen-year-old boy, he created an electricity-producing windmill out of found objects in his native home of Malawi, Africa. Using nothing more than an old book found in a local library and his own genius as a guide, Kamkwamba was able to piece together a windmill that produced enough electricity to power a few light bulbs and a radio- luxuries that fewer than 2% of Malawians enjoy. He used objects like PVC pipes, metal nails, old tractor parts, and felled tree branches to produce the complicated machinery necessary for his windmill.

On a recent episode of the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, Kamkwamba was asked about the first time he was shown the limitless potential of the modern luxury that is the Internet. Smiling, he recalled Googling the term “windmill”, and upon viewing the millions of hits, responded “Where was this Google all this time?”

Kamkwamba’s story is a great inspiration to anyone who feels as though they are unsure about how to do something or whether they will succeed in a difficult task. A recent post regarding the closed versus growth mindset ties into this as well- Kamkwamba obviously did not consider all the ways that he could fail, but rather all the ways he could succeed. Despite tremendous adversity, he was able to prevail through ingenuity, hard work, and intelligence. While he did run into difficulties, he persevered and made discoveries that overcame them. His ability to work through these difficulties was rewarded not just with electricity and a feeling of accomplishment, but a book deal and international fame as well!

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