Frank Whittle invented the jet engine in 1929.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Ten years after The First World War.
Around the time of the Model T Ford.
When aircraft were still biplanes, made out of wood and fabric.
Still flown by men in open cockpits wearing leather helmets.
He invented the jet engine.
He tried to get the Air Ministry interested, but no one wanted to know.
No one in Britain at least.
The Germans were interested.
Heinkel got hold of Whittle’s research, all his papers and his experiments, and he funded the development of Whittle’s jet engine.
Unknown to Whittle.
While the British were still building biplanes out of wood and fabric.
But it got even worse than that for Whittle.
He got some private backing and opened a company to develop his jet engine.
But when the government heard that the Germans were making jets, they
classified Whittle’s work secret.
Which meant Whittle couldn’t go out and raise private money anymore.
And the government wouldn’t spend public money.
And it got even worse than that for Whittle.
During World War Two he developed a two-engine jet, The Meteor.
It would have been the most advanced plane in the world.
Would have been.
But the government took it away from him and gave it to Rover to develop.
And Rover didn’t know anything about jet engines.
So they couldn’t do it.
And while the Germans had jet fighter planes we didn’t.
Whittle says we wasted two years when our jets could have been shooting down their jets.
Instead of letting their jets shoot down our bombers.
So it actually cost lives.
Eventually even the government realised it was stupid.
So after two wasted years, they took it away from Rover.
And they finally put Whittle in charge of building the engine he invented, right?
They gave it to Rolls Royce to make.
Because Rolls Royce were famous for building aero-engines.
But what they were famous for was piston-driven aero-engines.
They knew nothing about jets.
So Rolls Royce had to start at the beginning, learning how to make a jet engine.
While the man who invented it was ignored and overruled.
I recently saw an interview with Frank Whittle.
Naturally he’s still quite choked by what happened.
He had to watch everyone else succeeding with his ideas.
Have you ever felt like that?
Ever had a client who just wouldn’t buy your idea?
Ever worked for a creative director who took your idea away and gave it to someone else?
Ever watched someone else nick your idea and win an award with it?
Ever worked at an agency where dopes got promoted over you?
What should you do?
Recently I read this quote by Mother Theresa:
“If you are kind people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
See, the whole point of being alive is to fulfil our potential.
That means doing the best, and the most, of whatever it is that we can do that no one else can.
Whether anyone appreciates it or not.
Whittle did that.
He fulfilled his potential.
He squeezed the absolute maximum value out of his time on the planet.
See, we’re only here a few years.
Whatever happens, that’s all we get.
Which leaves us a simple choice.
Use it or lose it.
As George Bernard Shaw said, “When I die I want to be totally used up.”