WASHINGTON, DC — The story of Thomas Edison’s life is a prime example of entrepreneurship. His successes are well documented. With the phonograph, invented by him at the age of thirty, he captured sound on records. His incandescent bulb lit up the world. He invented the microphone, mimeograph, medical fluoroscope, the nickel-iron alkaline storage battery, and the movies. He made the inventions of others –the telephone, telegraph, and typewriter -commercially practical. He conceived our
entire electrical distribution system.
Amazingly, during his lifetime he patented a record 1,093 inventions. His inventions literally revolutionized the world. It could certainly be argued that he was one of the greatest minds in the history of the world. Yet, like all men, Edison knew failure. In fact he failed a lot. Like all great men, Edison looked at failure as a learning experience. An experience that would help him grow and
Edison’s first patent was for an electric vote recorder, however, legislators refused to endorse it. He never hesitated out of fear of failure. He once told a discouraged co-worker during one trying series of experiments “We haven’t failed, we now know things that won’t work, so we are that much closer to finding what will.”
It’s obvious that for Edison, setbacks were not viewed as a hindrance, but rather an incentive to do even better. They were a catalyst.
Life is tough. It is an endless series of ups and downs. Yet, it is through the process of facing and overcoming difficulties that life really has meaning. Certainly, the way we deal with setbacks goes a long way in distinguishing how successful we will be in life. Failure arouses our determination and wisdom. For that matter, many entrepreneurs facing failure have been pretty surprised to find that the impending loss had actually created courage, determination, and a newfound wisdom.
Failure teaches us. If we make mistakes, we learn not to do it again. Nobody can avoid failure all the time. However, the difference between a successful entrepreneur and an unsuccessful one is whether or not they can learn from failure, whether they can use it or whether they will be eaten up by it.
We need to take a more positive philosophical approach toward losing. Most entrepreneurs fear losing because they associate the experience with the loss of prestige, money, awards, status, and even relationships. Instead of being preoccupied with losing, we need to look at the positive aspect in order to understand that it is okay to try and fail. In fact, it is a healthy experience. Losing is valuable feedback. It’s part of the learning process. Not only is losing more interesting than winning, it is often more instructive and
If you fail, resist the natural impulse to blame others. Take full responsibility for your behavior. A person that takes total responsibility for
their shortcomings is usually admired. It takes courage to admit failure. Everybody knows that, and everybody admires an individual with courage. Don’t just accept your mistakes, though, learn from them. Analyze why you failed. Determine what you have done wrong and then go about making adjustments to enhance your future. Also remember that everyone fails. It is part of being human, and it is a right that we all have.
Entrepreneurs start new companies or redirect their old ones when failure appears. Most entrepreneurial companies change their course many times during their evolution either through new products, distribution, financing arrangements or manufacturing improvements.
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