The Eiffel Tower: Paris’ foremost landmark, one of the most iconic structures in
the world, and a symbol, not only of Paris, but of an entire country.
Inspired by the design of the Latting Observatory in New York City, the Tower was proposed as the entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universelle, a World Fair commemorating the centennial of the French Revolution. Its design was initially met by criticism from cultural proponents, the disdain of local Parisians objecting on artistic grounds, arguing that it “slighted French taste” and those who questioned the feasibility of such a project.
In his 1885 proposal to the Société des Ingénieurs Civils, Gustave Eiffel finished the presentation of his plans by saying the tower would symbolise,
“Not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude”
Construction began in 1887 and after its completion in March 1889 it stood nearly 1,000 feet high and was the tallest structure in the world – a distinction it held until the completion of New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930.
Today, this architectural wonder continues to serve as a radio transmitter, aircraft beacon, and television antennae. To some, “only its usefulness as a radio transmitter saved it from the wrecker’s ball”. But to others it is more. It has been replicated more than 30 times in models around the world and it attracts more visitors (7 million in 2015) than any other paid tourist attraction globally. To others it represents a city. It embraces a culture. It epitomizes the union of art and architecture. It defines romance. It is symbolic of a way of life. It embodies a country.
So… What’s your Eiffel Tower?
What aspect of your personal culture makes you special? What’s that characteristic that defines you? Is it your strength? Loyalty? Compassion? Determination? Eloquence? Creativity? Resilience? If you asked a close friend to describe you as they would to a complete stranger, what would be their first descriptor?
What trait of yours do people aspire to replicate and make part of their personal culture? Maybe someone else’s behaviour inspired you, so you modeled and refined it a bit and made it your own – now it stands out as a symbol of who you are.
Maybe you don’t see it as anything special; it’s just something that’s been there as long as you can remember. Perhaps it’s resulted from personal struggle or it’s your victory dance of triumph over that hardship. Does it celebrates who you’ve become, or does it stand out and signify who you are becoming?
Is it that characteristic that you initially thought, “Hell no! There’s no way I could do that”, or “That is so not me”, but over time you embraced it and it developed into something notable and wondrous.
Maybe others have already taken notice and set aspirations to replicate this characteristic. Maybe they’ve refined it. Made it theirs. They may even be able to express it in a more impactful way then you. But YOUR version is authentically YOURS! Nurture it. Share it! Showcase it!