“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”– Thomas A. Edison
In life there are many times when the best laid plans go awry. We take action on something and it fails or other people let us down or the weather ruins the day. It is easy to get discouraged and give up when things don’t work out. It is easy to go back into our comfort zone and refuse to try again. It is easy to say it just wasn’t meant to be. It is much harder in life to persevere. Thomas Edison was considered one of the greatest inventors of our time, but he also had some epic fails. His very first patented invention was an electrographic vote recorder. It was designed to allow officials voting on a bill to automatically tally their votes. He thought his fortune was made, but when he took it to Washington it was completely rejected. It would have been easy for him to give up, to stick with working as a telegraph operator, but he continued to push forward. Along with his famous working inventions he also created many not so great inventions that flopped. Edison was a bold and brave thinker who didn’t get discouraged by what looked like failure. He saw the opportunity in each invention that didn’t work and was too busy working on his next idea to focus on the one that didn’t work out as planned.
In the book, Your Invisible Power, Genevieve Behrend shares a story of how she was trying to get accepted to study under a man she greatly admired. When she first approached him with her request he rejected her. She then states, “I declined to be discouraged.” She goes on to explain how she persevered and eventually got him to accept her. I love her line, ‘I DECLINED to be discouraged.’ Even though she got the rejection letter, she chose to hold on to the belief that there was a way for her to study with him. How many times do we simply accept discouragement when we have equal power to decline it? Edison declined to be discouraged as did the Wright brothers, Henry Ford and many other brave thinkers. Although it feels safer to crawl back into our box, that thinking robs the world of our gifts. So, the next time you are discouraged, think about what it would it look like to decline the discouragement and instead move forward.