Above a hardware store in Ripon, WI, a baby boy was born July 28th, 1862. He was greeted into this world by his parents and four siblings. Years later this family of 7 moved to Appleton, WI so that his father could run his hardware store. Seeing his father’s passion for hardware and meeting the needs of his customers, sparked this boy’s passion for electricity. Mr. William Kurz embraced his dreams, passion, and drive to deliver what no one thought was possible.
William Kurz was captivated with electricity from an early age. From afar, he was fascinated with the electricity advances Mr. Edison was introducing to the world. William Kurz was instrumental in starting the first hydroelectric plant In Appleton, WI. He recognized the purpose that the Fox River could provide to the community. It brought life, comfort, safety, and convenience to the people of Appleton. However, it was not always an idea received with acceptance within the community.
Often, we read about successes people achieve in their lives especially if it brings us value today. But the path they took to achieve those results is the story worth telling. Mr. Kurz did not always take forward steps towards his goals. He had setbacks (like all of us) and even allowed deliberate back steps to gain momentum to exceed his goals. In his obituary, it tells the story about what happened when he turned on the first light on 08/20/1882. William Kurz and a group of men started connecting the wires to the dynamo in the early morning. They did not have YouTube, a guide, or background knowledge on how they were going to turn the lights on. What they did have was self-motivation, hunger, and eagerness to accomplish their goal. Late into the evening, a small dull glow was seen in the distances. Imagine, a group of men (from 1882) standing in the dark wearing overalls & caps exhausted from the day but the moment they saw that light they cheered “ we got the light” and they cried from amazement.
While tradition seems like a comfortable seat to be in, it does not allow our minds to be challenged. It appears Mr. Kurz positioned himself to view things with a growth mindset. He recognized the value of trial and error. He did not believe he would get every first attempt correct but he knew he would learn something from each unsuccessful try. While it is important to set your mind on a goal, it is unrealistic to think every step to that goal will be forward. The steps back are hard but necessary for growth. I believe Mr. Kurz allowed failure to be his teacher.
Another example of Mr. Kurz‘s determination was the time he held an ice cube on a motor to regulate the temperature. We understand motors need to be cooled to run properly and William knew he needed to prolong the life and functionality of this motor for his customers. He did not get this ice from the Kwik trip. He had to harvest it, from the River, in the winter, and have a game plan to bring that ice to work. He was determined to meet his customers’ needs even if they did not believe in him. When was the last time you went above and beyond like this?
He discovered his meaning in the dark, which brought light to all those around him.
2020 has been a dark year for a lot of us. We have faced uncertainly, failure, doubt, and frustration. How are you sharing your uniqueness with others? Be the light in the dark…even if it is a dim glow.