The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 to stem the exodus of talented people leaving the Communist Bloc for the West. In the first days, the wall was almost virtual - no more than barbed wire hastily stretched as a line in the sand across which no one henceforth could dare to exit without risking a bullet in the back.
The iconic moment of a desperate flight to freedom ...at the last possible moment.
If you grew up with the Cold War as I did, you came to accept the Wall's symbolism, its inevitability. By 1963, when JFK gave his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, it had already become a fixture, and by 1987 when Ronald Reagan implored Mikhail Gorbachev to tear it down, the rhetoric rang shallow.
The ionic moment of a desperate fight to freedom ...at the first possible moment.
In a rare coincidence, my wife and I were in Berlin in 1989 just as the Wall was beginning to be dismantled. It might have been the one thing I had been absolutely sure could never happen.
Today, the Berlin Wall has been gone nearly as long as it had existed. When we visited the city only a couple of summers ago, we could barely find a trace of it, and then only because we knew where to look...
Where the Berlin Wall used to be ...but only if you know where to look.
In the space of thirty years, something that seemed impossible became inevitable and then erased without a trace. That's part of the magic of long-term thinking. What other things that we now believe are set in concrete, will vanish tomorrow without a trace?