Success comes to those who persevere

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Vincent Alcazar
  • 479th Operations Support Squadron
Thomas Edison, a man who is arguably one of the greatest inventors in all of history, was awarded 1,093 patents in his 84-year life. He invented the dictaphone, mimeograph, storage battery, stock-ticker, phonograph and the first silent film. He had the rare combination of scientific and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur.

In 1892, his Edison General Electric Company merged with another firm to become General Electric Corporation, a Fortune 500 company that thrives to this day. But for all of Edison's success, he was no stranger to failure.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up," said Edison.

What Edison teaches us is persistence is often the main thing, if not the only thing, that discriminates successful people from the numerous unsuccessful masses.

It was Edison's persistent efforts to discover a long-lived element that gave rise to a practical light bulb design. He crafted over 3,000 light bulb filaments before achieving his goal.

Imagine how crushing it must have seemed to Edison after testing literally thousands of incandescent bulb filaments only to watch each design vaporize?

I believe many would have thrown down their lab coat in resignation and walked away in disgust after the first few dozen failed attempts, muttering, "find me a good candle and leave me alone."

Who among us has attempted anything over 3,000 times in our lives only to succeed on attempt 3,001? Most never start their success journey because they cannot see past their fears of failure.

Rather than fearing failure, ask yourself the most fundamental question at the outset: What is the significance should I succeed? In other words, don't flee from risk, run to embrace it. The answers to the questions you pose should assist you in accurately framing the proposition before you launch the effort.

What is the one thing in your life that motivates you to persist through seemingly endless failures, while fully informed with the knowledge that if you discontinue your efforts to succeed, your decision, and only your decision, is the pivotal event that could keep you from your goal?

If what you stand to gain is something of genuine significance in your life or the lives of others, then the failures you experience are the bricks paving the road to your destination. Edison's accomplishments illustrate the incontrovertible power of failure.
Without it, success would likely never reveal its absolute significance.