the cusp

James Dyson produced 5,127 prototypes before arriving at his first bagless vacuum cleaner, the DC01.

Sara Blakely reportedly looked at hundreds of prototypes — let’s say 300 for the sake of argument — before arriving at the original Spanx.

It’s interesting to wonder what might’ve compelled Dyson and Blakely to stay the course instead of quitting.

Why didn’t Dyson quit at prototype 2,627 when he and his wife had to count pennies to stay afloat?

Why didn’t Blakely call it quits at prototype 150 and return to her sales job (which, by the way, she was very good at).

Maybe it was inklings — inklings that they were each on the cusp of something worthwhile.

For Dyson, maybe it was about being on the cusp of learning something new with each prototype.

For Blakely, maybe it was about being on the cusp of producing a pantyhose — required attire by her employer at the time — that she could live with wearing to work every day.

Or perhaps their will to persist came from a more profound understanding that stopping their efforts would all but guarantee that they would be on the cusp of nothing.

To try is to invite possibility; to stop is to end it.

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William Liao

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)