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Thomas Edison's Million Dollar Secrets of Invention Secret 5: Fail Fast

Fail Your Way To Success!
Why Failure Is So Wonderful!

Thomas Edison's Top Ten Invention Strategies: 1--2--3--4--5--6--7--8--9--10


Update: this video features my new friend, Frank Attwood
as Thomas Edison. Check out his site!

Thomas Edison understood the profound secret that to succeed you have to be willing to fail and fail fast. To Edison all failure provided valuable information that he could use to correct his course, and lead him to eventual success. Here's why failure is such a wonderful advantage to creative people...

5. Fail Your Way To Success! Why Failure Is So Wonderful!

Win! Win at all costs! You've got to get it right! It must be perfect! We all have those ideas drummed into us. The winners get the wreaths and glory, the losers get, at best, a pat on the back and an "at least you tried". Anything other than first place is considered losing. Anything other than the right answer is considered the wrong answer.

The genius however sees losing as the track to winning, and failure as the path to success. Your "failures" are nothing more than lessons. See them as signposts directing you back onto the true path.

In this era, where our Gods are movie stars, super models, pop stars and sports stars, we are spellbound by the illusion of instant perfection. In most movies, the hero doesn't fail, he doesn't get it wrong, he always knows exactly what to do to stop the bomb from going off with seconds to spare, to say the right thing to get the girl, the witty retort to silence an enemy. Hey ... he's got a script! He's got a stunt double! He's got special effects! He's got multiple takes!

That beautiful actress doesn't look like that in real life. It takes an army of make-up artists, hairdressers and stylists, plus a bundle of lighting effects to create that look. She took specialised intensive instruction for 3 months prior to filming to be able to dance like that! Plus, she has a double for the really complicated parts!

Pop stars are styled and filmed by masters of illusion. Sporting stars - you only see them after they've spent a lifetime of practising, of losing, of failing, of gradually improving. 

"Fail often to succeed sooner." 

~ Jennifer White, Success Coach & Author

 

When Thomas Edison was seeking to invent the electric light bulb, he didn't get it right the first time. Did he immediately throw a 'wobbly' and say, "I'm a big fat failure!"? Did he throw his arms up in the air and sigh, "This is just too hard. I give up!"? Did he grab a bottle of booze and become an alcoholic and live in his memories, slurring to his fellow street bums, "I *hic!* tried to invent *hic!* the electric light bulb once *hic!* .... but it didn't work *hic!* out... life sucks."?

No. No. No!

When it didn't work the first time, Edison made a note of exactly what he'd done and what components he had used. Then he made an adjustment to the experiment and tried again. And when that "failed" he made a note of that, readjusted and tried again. He kept learning from every experiment. He learned all the ways that it wouldn't work. He discovered all the chemicals and elements that wouldn't work. And each time he found a way that wouldn't work, he knew he was closer to finding a way that would work.

It took him approximately 10,000 experiments to invent the perfect set-up for the electric light bulb. There was a lot of learning to go through. Nobody had done it before. He couldn't read a book about it. He simply had to plug away, failing and learning, until he and his muckers worked out the right way to do it.

An airline pilot has to fly from New York to Madrid. He has a flight plan with straight lines to follow. But most of the time he is off track. That airline pilot constantly "fails" to fly in a straight line. He is forced to make continual readjustments to make up for his failings. By doing that he arrives at the correct destination. It's the same principle used in navigating a sailing ship. You constantly criss-cross the line you are supposed to follow, hardly ever following it exactly.

You must actively seek out failure and delight in it. The most sublime creative ideas are often found in the shadow of the most unworkable and crazy ideas. Do not be afraid of getting anything wrong. There is no wrong. There is only a lesson in how not to do it! And that lesson is priceless...

Nothing is ever lost by failure, error or disaster. Unless you allow it to be lost. Do not accept defeat lightly. Every dusk has a new dawn...

In 1914 Thomas Edison's factory in West Orange, New Jersey, was virtually destroyed by fire. Although the damage exceeded $2 million, the buildings were insured for only $238,000 because they were made of concrete and were thought to be fireproof. Much of Edison's life work went up in smoke and flames that December night. At the height of the fire, Edison's 24-year-old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind.

"My heart ached for him," said Charles. "He was 67 — no longer a young man — and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, "Charles, where's your mother?" When I told him I didn't know, he said, 'Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.'"

The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew."

Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.

From "Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success"

by Jim Clemmer http://www.clemmer.net



Failure is your friend. Every failure is simply an Experiment. Experiments are set up to see what results occur and to learn from doing them.

"Failures are pivotal moments that force you to take a different path - a path to a better place." So love them!

Many of us fear failure. But we also want success in life and all the "jolly lolly" that goes with it. Babe Ruth is in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the biggest hitter of home runs (apparently... ) and is also in there for the most strike outs! He put it this way, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” It's like they say in the Lottery, "You've got to be in it to win it!"

You first learnt to walk after falling down thousands of times. Thank God you didn't take every fall as some personal flaw - or you'd still be riding around in a pram!

As a rough guide in life, you can expect to fail 80% of the time in a life well lived... 

The Edison Family Attitude to Failure

Edison could not conceive of any experiment as a flop. As Israel puts it, "He saw every failure as a success, because it channeled his thinking in a more fruitful direction." Israel thinks that Edison may have learned this attitude from his enterprising father, who was not afraid to take risks and never became undone when a business venture crumbled. Sam Edison would simply brush himself off and embark on a new moneymaking scheme, usually managing to shield the family from financial hardship. Israel says, "This sent a very positive message to his son--that it's okay to fail--and may explain why he rarely got discouraged if an experiment didn't work out." In addition to teaching him what wouldn't work, Israel says, failed experiments taught him the much more valuable lesson of what would work--albeit in a different context.

~ from an article on the Edison Papers project by Kathleen McAuliffe



 

Next: Thomas Edison Secret 6: Scribbling towards success! Why the pen is mightier!


Resources:

http://www.jwcgroup.com/article6.htm - How to fail your way to success

 

 

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