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Thomas Edison was an idiot, and other motivational sayings


Guest articles > Thomas Edison was an idiot, and other motivational sayings


by: Doug Martin


At what point do you give up? The answer is simple, when no one would blame you if you did. In the business world, in most cases, the appropriate “giving-up” point is somewhere around the halfway mark to accomplishment. In Edison’s case, for the light bulb, that would have been around his 1,000th failed attempt.

Try something, anything, a thousand times without success and I assure you, no one calls you names if you quit. Somewhere around 1875, a lab assistant must have cornered Edison near the water cooler and said “Tommy, I’ve been thinking, whadaya say we work on the phonograph thing for a while? You know, maybe put this bulb in the back room for a while.” Although history has proved this wrong, at some point during that time, people must of thought he was idiot.

I’ve made a bit of an unscientific study of the “giving up syndrome” over the years. It seems that giving up almost always begins with an outside influence. A sympathetic voice of reason. A person you turned to for encouragement that in seeing your pain and suffering wanted to save you from yourself. I figured out, that for those people, it’s ok for others to give up long before their pending accomplishment. A couple of factors determine this. Their own threshold for sustained attempts at something and what they consider to be a reasonable number of times to fail. It is important to note, that generally at the time of reaching out, we are very much in a state of fragility. We always leave it too long before seeking that little morsel of encouragement. In some cases, that candidate is looking for validation to give up. I call it seeking approval to fail. High fives are given all round for the effort though. But for those who are genuinely seeking the thimble full of new resolve, these people will do you no good.

Ask anyone who has ground out an achievement in their lives and they will tell you, there were many many times when it would have easier to give up. I find that to be a funny phrase. It’s always easier to give-up.

You can only really give-up on two things. An idea or yourself. Often, through the passage of time, an idea, which may have started out as a great idea reveals it’s self as an unworthy pursuit. Certainly no shame in that, as new information, findings, competitive advances, or a host of other variables shed a different light upon your thing. Where upon new ideas and pursuits become generated and the process begins anew. Idea people are just that way.

There always comes a point when the pursuit becomes irrational. Certainly defying common sense from an outsiders view, perhaps even a little from an internal view as well. And yet this insistent little thing called your gut nags you. Thank goodness for guts. They trump the rational mind. It’s the guts that tell you one more time, one more experiment, one more mile, one more try. Your guts are your best friends at this point, hell maybe even your only friends. Listen to them.

Edison could never have known how many failed attempts he would have to get through. None of us know and that’s a very good thing. Because in the mind of an optimist, it’s always the next time. Each of 1999 times, Edison stood over a switch, exhaled and flicked it up. And then it lit.

Every challenge I face, I think of as a light bulb. I plot out a plausible solution, execute it and throw the switch to see if it lights up. If it doesn’t, I try again with a modified tactic. Eventually the bulb will light. It usually takes more tries than I originally figured. As a metaphor this helps me keep my challenges in priority and perspective. Some bulbs are 25 Watt-ers, some are the size of stadium lights. Each needs to be lit.

Folks, when you are at your lowest point and it’s getting lonely, when friends have encouraged you to give-up in-spite of your inner conviction, when it seems so impossible that you are at the brink, think of that idiot Edison. Then take your challenge, make it a light bulb and push on. If you do, I assure you, your future will be very bright.

One last thing. Isn’t it ironic, that the idea, which took 2,000 attempts, has become the international symbol for good ideas?

If you find yourself mused, please forward to friends and encourage them to return.


About the Author: Douglas Martin is a Professional Corporate Sales Trainer featuring his trademarked seminar program EPIG™ Customer Relationship Architecture and purveyor of The Weekly Sales Beast. where his lighter side of heavy selling musings are syndicated worldwide.

Contributor: Douglas Martin

Published here on: 26-Dec-10

Classification: Sales


MSWord: Thomas Edition was an idiot.doc

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