Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Can We Learn from "The World's Fastest Indian"?

I'm not sure exactly when or how my blog went from purely testing topics to my wanting to explore the things that motivate people, but somehow it has, and I'm not sure entirely how I feel about that. In any event, I wanted to go back in time and see if there was something I had written that would spark some new thoughts and new ideas on the topic. On my old personal blog (, mostly inactive now that I devote most of my blogging time to TESTHEAD), I went back and found a post I had written a few years back called "What Can We Learn from "The World's Fastest Indian"? It's basically a movie review, but it's also one of my first explorations into the ideas of motivation. I may migrate a few more of my "retro posts" over here if I feel they are warranted and can be interesting to testers. I think this one fits the bill. Hope you'll indulge me :).

Originally posted at MKL's Muse on 11/07/2008.

I’m a sucker for inspirational stories that feature odd-ball characters that tend to beat the odds just out of sheer determination and force of will. A few years back a movie was made to celebrate such a person, and of course, because of its tie-in to my favorite motorcycle in the world, I had to watch this. Somehow I hadn’t heard about this being originally released, but when I was in the library, I saw the title, read the back cover, and decided that I had to see this!

In The World’s Fastest Indian, we see the story of Burt Munro, a man in his mid sixties at the time from Invercargill, New Zealand. The story is set in the mid 1960’s, and is based around Burt’s continuous tinkering and improving his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle to get leaner and go faster. Watching how he works, how he lives, and how he keeps at his goal, no matter what happens, is definitely an inspiration.

What I loved about this story was the fact that Bert faced opposition from just about everyone, yet he kept at it. Through it all he received begrudging, and occasionally heartfelt, acceptance of his efforts. Watching him get from New Zealand across the ocean, and then from Long Beach to Bonneville Raceway was certainly an adventure, and a testament to a man’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. Here was an example of a man who made deals where he could, traded his services for help and accommodations, and stood strong to try to do what he felt he needed to do when everyone else thought he was nuts. Frankly, we need more stories like this, stories that prove that the can-do spirit is still alive and well in people (part of me would love to see what Burt Munro would be like today and with the nature of the motorcycle industry as it exists now; Burt died in 1978).

For more about Burt, check out his Wikipedia page HERE (caveat lector wiki, of course :) ), and about the movie The World’s Fastest Indian HERE (again, caveat lector wiki).

And now for my thoughts today for TESTHEAD... I still look at Burt Munro's story as inspirational. This was a man that lived with a single minded dream, to break the land speed record with an ancient and self developed motorcycle. Whenever I moan that I don't seem to be getting ahead, or I'm not learning what I need to, or somehow I'm not keeping up with what I should be, I remind myself of Burt and what he was willing to do to make a dream reality. Was Burt Munro a little nuts? Maybe, but his determination saw him through, in good times and bad, and frankly I still think there's a value in appreciating and admiring can-do spirit like Munro's. For those not familiar with Burt's story, and would like to see a very inspirational movie, I still recommend "The World's Fastest Indian". It's worth the time to watch, and I think I may need to watch this one again :).

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