If you have a squeaky door hinge or a bolt that needs loosening, what’s the first product you think of?
For me, it’s WD-40. It’s like one of those modern marvels that seems to work on just about anything. As a matter of fact, WD-40 has been cited as having dozens of uses far beyond its original intent (which was actually to repel water and prevent corrosion). Below are just a few…
- Protects silver from tarnishing
- Removes tar, grime and bugs from car bumpers
- Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles
- Keeps pigeons away (they hate the smell)
- Removes residue from Duct Tape
- Remove scuff marks from shoes
And of course it acts as a great lubricant to keep mechanical things moving like they should.
But the point of this post isn’t to sing the praises of WD-40.
It’s to talk about a practical lesson behind its name.
What you might not know is that WD-40 means “Water Displacement – 40th Attempt.” You see, when WD-40 inventor Norm Larsen set out to create a formula that would prevent corrosion, he didn’t get it right on his first try. He didn’t nail it on the 2nd, 3rd, 24th or 35th tries either.
But he kept going.
Hey kept on learning from what didn’t work and improving on what did. With every seemingly botched attempt he could have seen it as a failure and succumb to the resistance… but he didn’t. He kept on learning and improving until one day in 1953, forty tries in, he got it right.
The world hasn’t been the same since.
I don’t know about you but I need to hear stories like this and be reminded of how most overnight successes are a myth. Hard work and persistence are what win more often than not.
And, if you want to change the world, you have to be ready for the resistance that doing work that matters brings.
Maybe a good start is asking yourself what your WD-40 is.
You mostly likely already know. It probably nags at you each day.
It’s that something that you’re about ready to give up on but deep down you know there is a way. Or maybe it’s that thing you haven’t even begun yet but you feel you are being called to do.
Whatever it is…
Don’t let the resistance knock you down. It can make you stronger and make your product or idea better but you have to lean into it and let it help you grow.
And remember… even if you don’t make it on the 1st try or the 22nd or the 33rd… it’s only failure IF you give up.
Just think what would have happened had ole Norm decided to call it quits at attempt 39. He would have been on the verge but never seen his dream come true.
Oh and by the way, from what I’ve read… Norm was a self taught chemist with nothing more formal than a high school education. Everything he knew he learned from reading books and trying out what he read (application). When he died he had over 1000 books in his personal library. Just another reminder that you don’t have to be the brightest, the most educated or have the most __(fill this in with whatever you think you need)__. You just need a vision, persistence and the tenacity to keep going.