Enlightening the World
The real name of the Statue of Liberty is “Liberty Enlightening the World”, named by the person who designed her, French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi. His enlightenment came in 1856 on a trip to Egypt, where he was inspired by the huge statues in Luxor. Knowing that two of the ancient wonders of the world were lighthouses (The Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Colossus of Rhodes), he set his heart on build his own colossal lighthouse.
Ten years later his chance came with the opening of the Suez Canal. He travelled there to meet the leader of Egypt to convince him to erect his design as a monument – a woman in a robe, with the same seven rays on her crown as the Colossus (representing the Sun God Helios), and lifting a torch aloft.
If at first you don’t succeed…
As it turned out, Egypt didn’t have the finances to afford the project, but Frédéric wasn’t ready to give up. He turned his sights to the new America. After another ten years and multiple efforts he had the support of both France and America for his statue to be a symbol of liberty in the entrance to New York. The problem, still, was financing. Money was needed to fund the statue – but without the statue, it was difficult to raise the money.
…keep rubbing the lamp
Frédéric’s solution? Build it piece by piece. First, the hand with the torch was built and displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in New York. That brought in enough support that he could then design and display the head at the Paris World Fair. By 1882 – six years after beginning the statue – he had completed Lady Liberty from the waist down, and wasted no time in inviting reporters for lunch in her torso.
His efforts and perseverance finally caught the eye of other influential supporters. Gustav Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) took on the structural design. Joseph Pullitzer (of Pulitzer Prize fame) drove the crowdfunding of the final money needed from 120,000 ordinary New Yorker. Over five months they added in their donations to pay for the pedestal as the statue sat in crates on New York’s docks.
Finally, thirty years after Frédéric Bartholdi’s dream of a colossal lighthouse as a symbol of the new age of freedom, she was unveiled in 1886. 150 years later, she now stands as one of the most recognised statues in the world. So what are the five steps in Frédéric’s epic journey that we can learn for our own journey?
The Five Steps to unlock your Genie
The steps Frédéric took are the same five that I have seen leaders and entrepreneurs take to achieve their dreams in the face of extraordinary odds. The same ones you can take:
Manifest your dream – He started with a clear picture of what he wanted to achieve. He visualised it, mapped it out, and made it his mission to turn it into reality
Act on it without compromise – He then took action, finding his way in to knock on the right doors, and when a door closed he went seeking a new one (wherever in the world that happened to be)
Gift your genius – He didn’t wait until he had everything he needed, but took the small steps as soon as he could to be of value and to prove himself to the people who mattered – with an hand here, and a head there.
Involve others – He didn’t start with everyone he needed, but attracted them through his actions, through his perseverance and the progressive unfolding of his vision. As he found the right people to help, he involved them so it became their success as much as his.
Complete – He didn’t stop until he had completed his masterpiece. When it was done, it was not his, but the world’s to share. He returned to France in 1886, and received the country’s highest award, The Legion of Honour, in the same year.
The Genie is in the beginning, not the end
Those five steps – Manifest, Act, Gift, Involve, Complete – are the five steps to unlock your own genie: M.A.G.I.C.
I believe in magic – especially the magic of belief. And I believe your genie is already with you. “Genie” is French for the Latin “Genius” which meant the guardian spirits that our ancestors believed accompany us from birth and form our unique character and talents.
The root “Gen” means to “begin” or “give birth” and gives us words like Genesis, Gender, Genus, Generate and Generations (as well as Genie and Genius). Your genie is the magic within your genius, waiting patiently to make your wishes come true.
So the next time you see the Statue of Liberty, give a thought to Frédéric Bartholdi’s 30 year journey, and use it as a reminder to lift your own lamp and light your own liberty.
“All you need is a little faith, trust, and pixie dust.” ~ Peter Pan
Keep shining brightly,
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