A Wizard’s Formula for Success

Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Thomas Edison

Thomas EdisonWhat can we learn about success from Thomas Edison? In his lifetime, how was he able to achieve 1093 invention patents, work 100 hour weeks, and despite a sensory impairment, stimulate teams of people to generate innovative ideas? The Wizard of Menlo Park did possess character flaws that distanced family members and hurt others, yet no one can deny Edison was a genius who changed the world for the better.

He was completely deaf in one ear, and had 80% loss in the other. His head was oversized. He was kicked out of school because of his ADD-like behavior and constant torrent of questions.  His mother home-schooled him and his father paid him to read the classics. He fell in love with Shakespeare and poetry. His independent learning style, his unquenchable thirst to know more, to understand why, and his persistence to never give up, proved the right formula to earn him the title of America’s Greatest Inventor. He was a rags to riches legend. He suffered illness, rejection, abuse, poverty, and great losses. Yet, he rose above and gave everything he had with a passion only few could understand, and even less would ever want.  What can we learn from this wizard?  What character qualities and lifestyle habits led him to success? He had many, but I believe these were key…

Adaptability: “Even though I am nearly deaf, I seem to be gifted with a kind of inner hearing which enables me to detect sounds and noises that the listeners do not perceive.”

Ambition: “Pretty much everything will come to him who hustles while he waits. “

Vision: “Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith and go forward!”

Discipline: “I never did anything worth doing entirely by accident….Almost none of my inventions were derived in that manner. They were achieved by having trained myself to be analytical and to endure and tolerate hard work.”

Satisfaction: “Personally, I enjoy working about 18 hours a day.”

Focus: “The first requisite for success is to develop the ability to focus and apply your mental and physical energies to the problem at hand – without growing weary.”

Insight: “Its not the hard work that kills, its the worrying that kills.”

Altruism: “I want to save and advance human life, not destroy it.”

Curiosity: “We have merely scratched the surface of the store of knowledge which will come to us.”

Perseverance: “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Perspective: “Why, I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Intellect: “Our schools are not teaching students to think. It is astonishing how many young people have difficulty in putting their brains definitely and systematically to work.” 


“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour: The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” from Thomas Gray’s Elegy To A Country-Edison’s favorite poem