Thomas Edison’s secret formula for success

With only three months of formal schooling, what was the success secret that led to Thomas Edison becoming one of the most prolific inventors in history? His 1,093 U.S. patents include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and of course the electric light bulb.

What can this genius teach us to help us in achieving our own goals and dreams? I don’t know about you but I’d be happy with just 1% of his inspiration.

Well just one quotation from Thomas Edison reveals so much about the philosophy which made him such a success:

“The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.”

Edison meant the word ‘problem’ in its wider sense. We could easy substitute goal or challenge.

It is quite a big ‘requisite’ so let’s break it down:

“Apply your physical and mental energies”

This is about effort and commitment. It’s not about a half hearted effort but devoting your whole being to the problem or challenge. As he once said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

“One problem”

This is key – the power of focus. Although Edison achieved so much he only applied himself to one goal at a time. Once he became more successful and had a whole a team working for him who could undertake more projects, but in early days it is more important to focus.

There is a lot we can learn from this. How easy is it to get distracted with too many projects? I know I have been there. Trying to do too many projects at once and making very slow or no progress.

It is far better to pick one goal or business project and concentrate on getting that completed or up and running before starting the next one.


This implies total devotion and persistence. He would work on projects continuously without interruption to complete them. It is often far more productive to work on a project solidly for a few intensive days rather than just a few hours here and there. He once famously commented, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“Without growing weary”

This was one of Edison’s most famous strong points. Who can forget the story of the light bulb? – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He really did not know the meaning of giving up.

“Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”

So in a nut shell Edison’s winning formula for success was hard work, focus, commitment and persistence – all to an extreme level.

But how do you keep that level of energy up over a long period of time?

The answer to that is in his other ingredient of success – a high degree of passion and enthusiasm for what you do.

He was not focused on the end result but on the love of the process. “One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But… I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.”

When you find your passion you’ll be able to say the same as Edison:

“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”

Now that is true success.

7 reasons why you are closer to success than you think

You may be feeling discouraged and disillusioned. You may have been struggling along for years with out much result. But now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to reinvigorate yourself and press on towards your dreams.

Here are 7 reasons why you closer to success than you think:

1. You underestimate yourself and how far you have come

If you are like most people you are your own worse critic. We’re not very objective and tend too judge ourselves harshly. After all nobody is more aware of our weaknesses, failings and missed opportunities than us. We then compound this with discouraging and negative self talk. Not only that we then compare ourselves unfavourably with others.

It’s time to take a reality check and begin to appreciate all we really are. Re-evaluate your goals and pursue them with renewed determination.

2. It takes time to lay the foundations

A seed can be dormant for many months before germinating beneath the surface. Then when spring comes it breaks through and grows ever more rapidly. Where had it been all that time?

We live in an age of instant gratification, but worthwhile achievements are not that easy. We therefore have unrealistic expectations and our powers of persistence have become weakened. Similarly you may pass a building site for many months with nothing much appearing to happen. Then one day you notice a skyscraper shooting up at great speed. Had they been idle all this time? No, they had been laying the foundations.

3. You have gained a lot of useful skills and experience

You have all you need to succeed. Unique talents and background that make you special. You may  think that you’ve wasted years without achieving much, but you’ve been building up skills and experience that will be useful to you in ways you can’t imagine.

Your life experience has made you stronger and wiser. A useful exercise is too look back over your life and make an inventory of the skills you have gained. Also look at the events of your life and note what you have learned and how you have grown not only emotionally, but also in strength of character. You will soon realize that you have a lot to offer.

4. Life likes to test us first to make sure we really want it

It’s a funny rule of life, but as we start out on a new venture many obstacles and distractions will appear as if trying to dissuade us. Although this is often nothing more than old habits.

I remember when I needed to lose some weight. Almost without fail the day after I resolved to start a diet someone would bring a pile of delicious cream cakes into the office or I would see my favorite chocolate cookies on special offer. My resolve would soon melt.

If everything we thought of manifested straight away we would soon be in trouble (Think of King Midas and everything he touches turning to gold).

Of course there will be many things to do to achieve our goal and many of these may be new to us. They therefore appear as obstacles and even as if life is doing it’s best to hinder us. But as long as we press on, keeping the end result of our goal at the forefront of our mind, we will meet with success.

5. The opportunities you need are right under your nose

The building blocks of our success are nearly always right under our nose, but as they are so close and familiar that we fail to notice and appreciate them. ‘But that’s just too easy’. Our greatest gifts and talents are often taken for granted or denied due to low self-esteem.

Also our environment, experience, friends and connections will provide the key to open more opportunities. We just need to become more aware and open to them.

6.  The problems and challenges you face are smaller than you think

It may look like a big mountain to climb, but just start walking and you will be surprised at the progress you make. I often look at the pile of washing up to do and become discouraged. But once I get started it is never as much as it seems at first.

Avoid making mountains out of molehills. And what the heck – if you do have a mountain to climb, get going and enjoy the views along the way. So often we waste far more energy deliberating over a course of action than it takes to get on with it in the first place.

7. Success is a journey not a destination

This is the clincher. Real achievers make success an attitude and a way of life rather than a destination. If you learn to treat every step along the way to your goal as a success you can start experiencing being successful today. This will make you more motivated and inspired to take more action and realize your goal even sooner.

You have heard about people achieving big goals and then become disillusioned. As soon as you achieve a goal you need to set another. The only true way to experience the feeling of success and fulfilment is to enjoy every step of the way.

Why not experience being successful today? Don’t become disillusioned with how much you need to do or the difficulties you face.

Remember the old saying “the darkest hour is just before dawn”. Now is not the time to lose faith. Focus your attention on your goal and keep going for it.

Your success is really closer than you think!