Audacious Ideas Can Take Flight in Unexpected Ways

Ideas Take Flight

The motto of our creative marketing agency in Atlanta is, “We make ideas work.” When a client asks me about my role within the company, my customary response is, “I’m an idea man.”

When I consider the origins of ideas and ways to enhance them, the following account from long ago occasionally comes to mind. And I’m reminded that big ideas can manifest life of their own.

Though his name eludes me, the recollection of his wild tale endures. I was told this story one summer day during college while employed as a physical therapy assistant at a rehabilitation facility. I encountered a venerable gentleman of amiable disposition undergoing recovery from a stroke. Engaged in aiding his exercise routine one day, he regaled me with a captivating tale.

During the nascent stages of World War I in Europe in the early 1900s, this gentleman was still in his teenage years, residing in a small Southern town. Alongside his bestfriend, both well-regarded individuals, they shared a wild side for adventure and ostentation. Rumors reached them that in Canada, young men were being trained as fighter pilots for service in England’s Royal Flying Corps, later recognized as the Royal Air Force.

Preceding direct U.S. involvement in the war, the prospect seemed beguiling to these two wanderlust-stricken individuals. They envisioned the thrill of journeying to Canada to assume the mantle of fighter pilots, their minds enraptured by dreams of future adulation from swooning ladies.

They began boasting about their imagined adventure one day in the local barber shop, and before they knew it, word had spread through the whole town. A parade was orchestrated in their honor, extolling them on their purported journey to aviation glory. Overwhelmed by the momentum of this grand departure, they were too embarrassed to explain that it was all talk.

Within a few weeks of sharing their grandiose scheme in the barbershop, both young men found themselves aboard a train bound for Canada, the entire town bidding them Godspeed. Remarkably, they attained the status of pilots and were thrust into the crucible of war.

The happy ending to this story is that both returned home unscathed and perpetuated their camaraderie until the end of their days. The other aging aviator even visited the rehabilitation center one day to reunite with his old comrade, leaving me impressed by their dignified demeanor. Despite their advanced years, they remained distinguished gentlemen with dapper style, firm handshakes, and a keen sense of humor.

This tall–but true–tale underscores the notion that even the most audacious idea can take flight, and, as someone in the business of making ideas work, I believe it.