Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thomas Edison on Personal Strength

Five years ago, while living in Florida, my wife and I visited Thomas Edison's winter home and lab in Fort Myers, Florida. I learned that Henry Ford also had a retreat there, only a few hundred feet away. In his lab, Edison was trying to develop an artificial rubber for automobile tires.

Many think of him as the inventor of the electric light bulb. Actually, several other people had already created electric light bulbs, but these prototypes were expensive and unreliable. Edison's genius was to perfect technologies to make them commercially practical. At the age of 37 he formed The Edison Electric Light Company with funding from J. P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family. "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles," he said.

He also worked on perfecting the phonograph and the motion picture camera. Before he died he held over 1,000 patents. And his Menlo Park facility in New Jersey was the first industrial research and development lab in America.

People were amazed at his accomplishments, and he was interviewed often. Much of what he says about his work is actually about personal strength.

CREATIVITY - “If there's a way to do it better . . . find it.”

EFFORT - "I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work."

INITIATIVE -  "A little twist to the usual, 'Everything comes to he who waits.' Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits."

OPTIMISM - “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

PERSEVERANCE - “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

SELF-CONFIDENCE - “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

SELF-DEVELOPMENT - "I've never made a mistake. I've only learned from experience."


Anonymous said...

Denny, great blog. And an amazing correlation that what propelled him as an inventor was really based around his personal strength. It's a great thought to add to the whole "will" or "skill" conversation.


Leigh Ann Napier, Happy Marriage Coach said...

Thanks for your encouragement Denny! Especially love the quote that we must try one more time, and then keep trying one more time after that. So true!

Will Marlow said...

One of my favorite quotes about Edison comes from one his few detractors, Nikola Tesla, because I think that some people would actually take it as a compliment:

"He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene...he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense."