I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas Edison
Many motivational speakers, including myself, use Edison as an example of a person who was great at overcoming failure.
But the problem is that most of us get it wrong.
Thomas Edison did not fail 10,000 times. He conducted 10,000 experiments and he learned from every one of them.
Edison had one goal; to create the electric light bulb.
Keeping that goal in mind he then conducted thousands of experiments. Contrary to popular belief few of his experiments were failures. Each experiment was a learning opportunity and it was the accumulation of the learning that led to the eventual creation of the light bulb.
Edison meticulously documented the results of every experiment and made constant adjustments. He experimented with hundreds of different filaments as well as different ways of removing oxygen from the bulb itself.
His eventual success was the result of careful planning, persistence and a belief in his ability to succeed rather than his ability to overcome failure.
Contrary to Edison’s approach many of us look at the things we do in life through a pass/fail lens. When we don’t get the results we want we consider that effort as a failure. As a result we often back away from further attempts.
By viewing the things we do as experiments we automatically create some emotional distance from the results and we are far more likely to look at substandard outcomes as learning opportunities.
A more accurate understanding of Edison’s story means we can better apply it to our own lives.
The key points that I have personally taken from Edison’s story are;
Have a single, compelling goal. Edison didn’t just want to just invent a lightbulb, he wanted to change the world,
Create a plan to achieve your goal,
Be willing to experiment as long as it takes to create your eventual success,
Document the results of your experiments and be humble enough to learn the lessons,
So there you have it. The real truth behind Thomas Edison’s success.
What can you take from his approach to life?
Thanks for reading Success on the far side of fifty and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.