Entries in edison (1)

Wednesday
Aug102011

Don't Be Afraid Of Failure: "Fail on!"

Tip of the week from our podcast: "Fail on!" (download episode on iTunes)

Many of you are already super familiar with Thomas Alva Edison. If it wasn't for this guy our podcast would be rather pointless. It was primarily his efforts in the early days of technology that brought about the invention of the motion picture. He is not just the light bulb guy. He holds a whopping 1,093 patents. That's a lot of tinkering in the garage.

There is a time in childhood when every kid wishes to become an inventor of cool gadgets that redefine the world, and for me that invention bug was centered on Edison (and Doc Brown). And just like every childhood fantasy, it eventually comes crashing down under the enormous weight of reality. Namely the rather frightening reality of the biggest monster that lives under the bed of every creative: YOU WILL FAIL.

What we are asking you to do in this podcast is one of the most counter intuitive things you will ever do: make friends with failure. He isn't really so bad. Yes people will look down on you for doing it. You will feel stupid. He makes bad jokes that nobody even politely laughs at, and your family may start talking about how much time you two are spending together in hushed, concerned tones that cease suddenly when you walk into the room.

But failure is really success in disguise. It is the best twist of any good mystery movie. The guy everyone thinks is the villain is actually the hero all along.

So back to Edison, that guy who fathered the spirit of modern invention? He was not an overnight success, at all. In fact one of his first patents, an electronic voting machine was a commercial flop. At 21 he moved to New York with no money and no real success, but he continued to innovate, and eventually said this to a reporter: "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work."

Because Edison faced his fear and became friends with failure, he met success. And lest you think failing ends once you make your big break, many of Edison's efforts in invention and industry AFTER he figured out the filament issue were failures.

This week we want you to try something you have been wanting to do for a long time, that you know may fail. If you succeed, awesome! If you fail? Awesome! Really internalize the results, and make the tough decision to try it again, and again, and again.

Just do it.

—shepherd