There’s a section of the Alps between Austria and Italy that’s so incredibly steep and high, that it was considered impossible to cross years ago. Because it was treacherous even for pack animals, travelers had no choice but to take the long journey around it. It was inconvenient. It was costly and it was time consuming. And even though people wished for a path through the mountains, they also said it couldn’t be made. Carl von Ghega built one anyway. It took twelve years and 20,000 workers, but the determined engineer designed and oversaw the construction of a railway that consisted of 41 kilometers of track, 14 tunnels, 16 viaducts and 111 bridges.
But the most amazing part? He built the railway before there was a train in existence that could make the trip.
Carl von Ghega made an incredible investment of time, money and energy without any guarantees. He didn’t stop to think about everything that could go wrong. He didn’t worry about what people would think of him. He certainly didn’t dwell on the possibility that there would never be a train that could climb such steep terrain. Instead, he pictured a desired outcome; he made that outcome a goal; he, literally, laid down tracks and built bridges that would lead him toward that goal; and he forged forward as if the train already existed. He built the railway because he believed that one day the train would come – and when it did, he wanted to be ready.
So many of us wait for conditions to be perfect before we make a move in life. Anything less and we think, “I’m not ready” or “it can’t be done.” We want the security of knowing that our efforts won’t go to waste, our dreams won’t be shattered, or that we won’t lose anything in the process. I think, though, that sometimes life is like von Ghega’s railway. Maybe if we act as though a desired outcome is inevitable, we’ll lay the right groundwork, attract the right opportunities, and build stable bridges toward making that future a reality. Some call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, others call it manifestation, some call it getting lucky. The truth is, anyone who wants something out of life has to make it happen. Today, von Ghega’s Semmering Railway is considered to be one of the greatest feats of civil engineering, and still carries passengers on a breathtaking journey through majestic mountains that were once impassable. The manifestation of a single man’s vision made this possible, reminding us to hope: if you build it… “it” will come.