The Christopher Columbus Problem

The Christopher Columbus ProblemWhen you were a kid you probably learned all about Christopher Columbus and his three ships “sailing across the ocean blue.”  But few really understand everything it took to get him from an idea to actually having the Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Maria sail off into the sunset.

In the late 1400’s, the prevailing scientific belief was that the earth was flat.  The horizon, people reasoned, represented the end of the earth itself, and once you reached it you’d essentially fall off the end of the world and out into the universe.

Christopher Columbus believed otherwise; he believed the earth was round. But that wasn’t really the biggest issue. His big problem was getting his banker to believe the world was round.

Now if you’ve ever gotten a home loan or a car loan, you generally know how it works.  You fill out an application, the bank asks how much money you make, they check your credit score and they decide whether you’re a good risk or not. Some people get approved quickly and get the best rates and terms. Others, who may have credit dings or no credit at all, may get the loan, but at a higher rate. And then there’s the last group: the ones who get turned down flat.

So think about our friend Chris. He walks into his bank and says, “So I’d like to buy some boats and sail off to discover some new countries.  Oh…and the amount I need to borrow is one billion dollars AND the countries I want to discover are on the other side of the globe.”

money-605076_1280One billion dollars–that’s what the equivalent was to the amount he was asking to borrow. Billion. With a B. On a plan that flew in the face of “modern” thought.

I have no doubt that banker after banker thought Columbus was just nuts. Who would throw that kind of money off a cliff (or waterfall in this case) when “everybody” knew that the world was flat and that there were sea monsters and mermaids out there that could wreck your ships.  And what sailors in the right minds would agree to a two-year voyage when no one would ever gone on that kind of trip; in fact, most people sailed in sight of land.

It comes as no surprise that no one would provide the financing Christopher Columbus was seeking. Except, that is, the queen of Spain.  His goal, his dream and his belief was so strong that she eventually believed enough in him to give him the funding he sought.  Likewise, he found sailors who–for one reason or another–believed him enough to take the voyage of a lifetime.  

Each of us has had a “Christopher Columbus Problem” at one time or another–when we believed in something so strongly that we knew we could make it happen if we just had the support we needed.  For most people it’s not sailing off into the sunset or discovering vast new lands. Often it’s increasing profits or productivity, getting a team to work together more effectively, moving an organization forward or even improving the way our families communicate. It could be paying off debt or making a job change.

That’s where self-efficacy comes into play. Self-efficacy can build the belief of a family, a company or a team beyond present circumstances and current abilities.  It takes us beyond what we can do right now to what we believe we can do starting now.

Self-efficacy will help you shape your vision and share it with the world.  It will help you identify and invent tools that you need to solve challenges in your life.  Start today by believing that whatever it is that you need to do can actually be done.  Just look at Christopher Columbus.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>