Recently, I’ve been reading quotations from others who made life discoveries similar to the ones developed by Thomas Edison and those around him. Today, I’ve included a few for your consideration.

As you know, Edison employed hundreds at his laboratory in West Orange. Not all of these made great discoveries, but many spoke of the feeling of being part of something exciting. Helen Keller spoke of such achievements in this way.


Helen Keller with President Eisenhower

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of heroes, but also by the aggregated duty of each honest worker.” Helen Keller

In the midst of adversity and challenge, when he seemed close to failure, Edison stayed the course and, as a result, very often achieved great success. One 18th century British writer observed:

“Times of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.” Charles C. Colton

Dogged persistence in the midst of harsh criticism is a practice that Edison developed well. It is apparent that Emerson also knew of such experiences when he wrote,

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to the end requires . . . courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perseverance when faced with failure after failure helped make Edison a legendary figure during his lifetime. Charles Kettering was a contemporary of Edison and a successful inventor in his own right. He also shared the conclusion with Edison that failure, properly managed, often leads to success.

“Virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are the finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don’t want to fail is the last time you try something . . . One fails forward toward success.” Charles F. Kettering

This blog was originally posted July 9, 2010