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Vision is More Important than Know-How for Successful Goal Achievement

Aug 17, 2007
At the dawn of the new millennium, the then Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was faced with a dilemma. In less than two decades his country would exhaust its primary source of income - oil. He needed a solution and he needed it fast.

He decided to convert Dubai into the world's number one luxury tourist destination and triple the inflow of tourists from 5 million per annum to a whopping 15 million. This was not a totally pie-in-the-sky idea. The Crown Prince had built the world famous and only 7-star hotel the Burj Al Arab as well as top class golf and race courses - all pretty remarkable especially considering that half a century earlier it had been a modest trading town built on a creek.

It helped that Dubai is graced with great weather virtually all year round and long stretches of soft sandy beaches adorn its coastline. The only problem was that the coastline was originally only 72km long - certainly not sufficient to cater for the huge influx of tourists that the Crown Prince envisioned.

But herein was the key to his vision. We are often encouraged to think big. Sheikh Mohammed doesn't think big. He thinks in MEGA proportions. His plan was to create a paradise island off the coast of Dubai in the shape of a palm tree. This man-made island would increase the coastline by 56km.

Nothing of this size or shape had ever been done before and, to add to the challenge, so that the island blended in with its surroundings, he wanted the island to be constructed entirely of natural materials - sand and rock. Robert Berger, Project Manager from 2000-2004 said:

"When I first heard of this project I didn't believe it could be done. It's incredible." He added, "If God wanted an island to be built in the shape of a palm tree he would have built one."

I smiled when I heard that because if you believe that God or your equivalent thereof, exists in each and every one of us, maybe that exactly what God was doing.

A project of this scale needed the world's best engineers. Some of these were to be found in Holland where Dutch engineers have increased Holland's land mass through land reclamation by 35%.

Sheikh Mohammed stipulated that the palm island was to be made only of the buffeting waves, particularly those generated during the intense winter storms when winds could gush up 56 km per h and waves could be as much as 2m high, the island needed to be protected by a breakwater. Also, while some scientists and politicians, for that matter, were still debating whether Global Warming actually was a true phenomenon, the researchers on this project were factoring into their equations the extent by which water levels would rise as a result of Global Warming. Nothing could be left to chance, once built the island needed to stay in place.

Fortuitously, the Arabian Gulf was the ideal location for this proposed structure. It is too shallow for the formation of the huge waves that could engulf and swallow the island. The researchers calculated that the breakwater would need to be at least 3m above the waves and about 12km long.

If you thought the stakes were already high, they were about to get even higher. The developers wanted work to start on The Palm Jumeriah before all the research had been completed. Although years of research and baseline studies had been conducted this was still a risky undertaking. There were so many variables to this project and unknown variables at that. If the researchers were wrong the island could be literally swept away but the developers were working to an incredibly tight schedule. They had to create an island out of nothing, install its complete infrastructure (gas, electricity, water, roads, etc.) plus build luxury villas, shops and hotels all by 2006. Roger Berger said:

"This maybe is the only place in the world where something like this can be done. To have the vision and the courage to carry it through."

Work on Phase 1 of the project started August 2001 and then something happened that shook the world to its foundations - 9/11.

This was one of those unknown parameters that no one could have prepared for. People did not want to travel period far less travel to the Middle East and suddenly the idea of building a luxury tourist destination in Dubai seemed almost preposterous. Dubai itself ground to a halt as fear and panic rippled through the world like the shock waves of an earthquake.

Amidst it all, one man in particular was calm and resolute. I guess logic dictated that confidence would eventually be restored and if confidence didn't win the day, defiance would. Sheikh Mohammed wanted to be ready when that time came plus the developers had already invested millions of dollars into this project. The project would continue. It was a bold and wise move.

Another challenge came from the need to build the breakwater and the island simultaneously. If the breakwater was completed before the island it would cut off access to the site. On the other hand, if the island pushed ahead of the breakwater then it would be exposed to the elements. Teamwork here was not just desirable, it was absolutely crucial. The breakwater team and the island team had to work together in total synchronicity and, given the scale and complexity of the project plus the daily changing parameters of this project to say that this was not an easy undertaking was an understatement.

And did I mention that nothing like this had ever been done before? The engineers were all of impeccable pedigree having worked on some of the world's largest and most complex projects such as Hong Kong's acclaimed Chek Lap Kok airport designed by British architect, Sir Norman Foster, but the palm island project eclipsed them all.

To create The Palm Jumeirah state-of-the-art technology was used. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) or to be more precise Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) were used to measure whether the island with its 17 fronds was taking shape as it should. The world's first privately-owned high resolution satellite, Ikonos, was used in this exercise. The satellite orbits the earth 14 times a day and is responsible for the great images which helped the engineers to ensure that the sand placement was measured to an accuracy of 1cm and help capture the imagination of people around the globe.

In fact people were so excited about this project that its capacity doubled from 60 to 120 thousand. Despite all the challenges, The Palm Jumeirah has risen spectacularly out of the sea it is a triumph to modern engineering, visionary leadership, great team work and razor-sharp decision-making.

Some of you may be thinking, "The developers of this project had loads of money and so it was easy for them to conceptualise and create a project of this magnitude. If you are, you're be missing the point. You see anyone can think in MEGA terms, anyone can have MEGA dreams.

I was reading a story about John Maclean who was left paralysed after a road accident when he was just 22 years old - one minute an athletic young man and the next fighting for his life.

When he first started his rehabilitation he swam two strokes and was so exhausted he had to be hauled out of the therapy pool and taken back to his room. He was asleep before his head could hit the pillow. For John Maclean doing those two strokes was a huge achievement but nothing compared to the goal he set himself - to swim the English Channel. This was something that had never been done before by a wheelchair athlete and it is an endurance feat that even relatively few able-bodied individuals attempt.

To have any chance of achieving this goal day by day he had to stretch himself, push past his fatigue and develop new neuromuscular pathways to coax his body to acquiesce to his stubborn will. He too built up a phenomenal team around him - individuals who bought into his vision.

And so it was, in 1998 and less than two weeks after his first attempt, John Maclean finally achieved his goal and completing the gruelling Channel swim in 12 hours and 55 minutes. This is just one of his many awesome sporting achievements.

So don't be afraid to dream big, really big. If you hold on to your vision and each day push yourself a little further than you've gone before, all the while continually adjusting to your heightened awareness and new conditions, you too can achieve MEGA goals. Your results, unlike The Palm Jumeirah, may not be visible from space but a new star might just be visible from land.
About the Author
Nickolove Lovemore is a Life & Success Coach and a Certified NLP Practitioner. Please visit http://www.SuccessAccessories.com for free ebook featuring some of the world's leaders in personal development. Discover how they follow their passion and their dreams to achieve phenomenal goals and share their vision for the future.
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