Update: this video features my new friend, Frank Attwood
as Thomas Edison. Check out his site!
4. Why A True Genius Sweats! Mulish Persistence and Dogged
Determination Win Through to the Gold! Thomas Edison was a man of immense determination and persistence --
he wouldn't let any obstacle, hardship or setback block him from achieving his goals. He understood that a true
When it comes to developing million dollar creative gems, most people stop
short of reaching the mother lode while mining their own "Field of Diamonds". Genius is not airy-fairy
come-up-with-a-few-ideas, sit back and let the workers carry them out. Genius takes effort and passion. Above all,
it takes perseverance.
It's easy to be mediocre. It takes no effort at all to be like everybody else.
The whole world gets dumbed down so that we can all smile and speak the same language... Banaleze, the language of
the banal! If your brain has been well and truly Homerised and Beavisated to a mush, it's going to take some sweat
to break free and contribute the best of yourself. Only comic genius Jim Carrey can make a million from becoming
Dumb and Dumber. For everybody else, it's no laughing matter.
Thomas Edison has been beautifully described as having had "a bristling
intolerance for laziness". We've already talked about his phenomenal output in the Idea Quota section. He
lived and betrayed himself publicly as a plainspeaking workaholic, often working up to 112 hours a week (that's 16
hours a day). Frequently he would stay overnight at his factory, stretching himself out on a laboratory bench. His
second wife, Mina, thought this was undignified for a man of his standing and put a cot-bed in the corner of his
library so that he could take power naps there.
As a child, Edison had read the book 'Self-Help' by Samuel Smiles and taken its
principles to heart. He believed firmly in pulling oneself up by the bootstaps! He was a realist when it came to
the process of invention, saying: "Invention is 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration."
This theme of hard work and persistence was stressed throughout his life. At
times he was annoyed by the way people attributed his phenomenal inventions down to his genius alone while
dismissing the gut-wrenching effort he put into developing a project. On one such occasion, he asserted:
"Genius is hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense."
Some commentators think he was being wry when he likened his genius to common
sense. And from the mental processing point of view they are right to question him. Edison did think in an
extraordinary way as we are discovering. But there is a long, long way from inspired idea to physical reality. And
it takes common sense to see that and be prepared to walk that extra mile.
"Patience and tenacity of purpose are
worth more than twice their weight of cleverness."
~ Thomas Henry Huxley
There is a tenacity to genius. It's the ability to dig deep and hold on to the
vision. When you have an idea, you nurture it and build it up to become invulnerable in your mind. You set to work
to manifest your idea. In truth the process of creation and invention should come with a hard hat, goggles and body
armour. Once you set your idea out there you have to be prepared for the flak and detritus that life will throw at
"Eurgh a new idea! Let's splatter the bas**rd!"
People thought Walt Disney was mad when he proposed to build a fantasy theme
park in the middle of the Florida swamps. And he wanted to base the whole thing around the idea of a talking mouse!
"Who let him out of the nut house???" they probably whispered in the halls.
Do you think it took sweat, perseverance and toil to build that place, to hold
onto the vision and overcome all objections? You bet it did! Walt Disney died before Disneyland was officially
opened. Someone said to his son, "It's a real shame Walt didn't get to see it." To which Disney's son replied, "He
saw it first. That's why you can see it now."
"Hang in there! is more than
an expression of encouragement to someone experiencing hardship or difficulty; it is sound advice
for anyone intent on doing good in the world. Whether by leading or prodding others, or improving
oneself, or contributing in the thick of things to some larger cause, perseverance is often crucial
to success...Much good that might have been achieved in the world is lost through hesitation,
faltering, wavering, vacillating, or just not sticking with it."
~ From "The Book of Virtues" by William J.
In a way, great ideas are cheap. You and I can sit here and think of a
teletransporter, like they use on Star Trek. Press a button and your atoms and molecules are disassembled beamed
across the planet (or the universe) and reassembled there. But between the idea and the reality there's a huge
gulf. Who's going to cross that gulf? That's where the Mule rules. One step after another. Head down. Keep plugging
away. Discovering the science and the engineering to make it possible. It may take a hundred years of effort and
experimentation, of public education and explanation, of marketing and funding. It may take five hundred years. Or
Ideas are a blessing and sometimes a curse. A blessing to the beneficiaries of
those ideas but sometimes a curse to those who have to turn them into reality. But the rewards of perseverance are
"Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of
~ Alexis Carol, Nobel Prize Winner
Thomas Edison and his staff sweated through 50,000
experiments to perfect the alkaline battery! Can you possibly imagine that kind of tenacity? It's born
of vision and the commitment to that vision. When you have an idea that you know is a good one, that you know will
enhance other people's lives as well as your own, you are going to walk through fire to get it out
The key to dealing with the "impossible task" is, was and always will be, to
break that task into smaller chunks. Let's face it, there are many developments that can be measured by the span of
lifetimes of those who contributed to that development. Many things are just so big that they take "giants standing
on the shoulders of giants" to achieve the end result. Sometimes you can only add one brick to a palace wall. But
without your brick, the whole lot couldn't stand.
All you can do with your mammoth ideas is chunk them down, take them one stage,
one step at a time. Relentlessly.
Never Quit! Thomas Edison advised: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave
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