Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the first life-saving vaccine against polio in 1954. When asked about the scientific effort behind his enormous accomplishment, Salk offered this reflection:
“Ideas came to me as they do to all of us. The difference is I took them seriously. I didn’t get discouraged that others didn’t see what I saw. I had trust and confidence in my perceptions, rather than listening to dogma and what other people thought. I didn’t allow anyone to discourage me—and everyone tried. But life is not a popularity contest.”
What wise and powerful words! Let’s explore them for a moment:
“Ideas came to me as they do to all of us. The difference is I took them seriously.” When ideas come to us as writers, some of them seem to fade away and some seem to gather energy and mass. But every idea has value—let’s make sure we capture and consider them all.
“I didn’t get discouraged that others didn’t see what I saw.” When Ideas are fresh and new, when they are aborning, we are often seeing what others can’t see. We have a vision that’s so tender and undeveloped that other people can’t see the value and the beauty of it. But when this happens, like Jonas Salk, let’s not become discouraged, let’s push on.
“I had trust and confidence in my perceptions.” When others couldn’t see what he saw, Salk didn’t give up. He had faith in himself, his training, his experience, and his perceptions. This belief in himself was unshakeable—it was the solid foundation for his experiments.
“I didn’t allow anyone to discourage me—and everyone tried.” Salk marched to the beat of his own drummer. He refused to let “dogma or what other people thought” influence him. He didn’t allow the naysayers around him to deflate or defeat him. He had a goal and he stayed true to it.
What an inspiring story of grit—of courage and resolve! Let’s take heart from Salk’s stunning success in the face of enormous odds as we all write on.