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The Genius of Persistence

Aug 17, 2007
Every time we plug an appliance into the wall, it's because he figured electricity out for us. His incandescent bulb changed our world.
He literally spread the light of his genius around the world.

Thomas Alva Edison.

150 years have passed since he was born.

What is the most remarkable thing about him is that he was not the most technically brilliant mind of his time.

In fact, Nikola Tesla considered him rather dim.

Here is his comment on Edison. ``If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search....
I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.''

Nor was this mere abuse. Those who knew Tesla and his work were astonished. On May 18, 1917, at an AIEE annual meeting, B.A. Behrend made this laudatory poem: Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Tesla be", and all was light.

The Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, and scientist was an astonishing and prolific inventor.

His inventions included a telephone repeater, rotating magnetic field principle, polyphase alternating-current system, induction motor, alternating-current power transmission, Tesla coil transformer, wireless communication, radio, and fluorescent lights.

In all he had more than 700 patents.

Although he worked for Edison for a short while, the two men could not get along. Ironically, in the conflict between Edison's direct current and Tesla's alternating current, Edison won more public approval and the inferior technology was readily adopted.

Thomas Alva Edison was brilliant.

Nikola Tesla, however, was dazzling.

Here is how Chancey McGovern describes one of Tesla's famous experiments

"Fancy yourself seated in a large, well-lighted room, with mountains of curious-looking machinery on all sides. A tall, thin young man walks up to you, and by merely snapping his fingers creates instantaneously a ball of leaping red flame, and holds it calmly in his hands. As you gaze you are surprised to see it does not burn his fingers. He lets it fall upon his clothing, on his hair, into your lap, and, finally, puts the ball of flame into a wooden box. You are amazed to see that nowhere does the flame leave the slightest trace, and you rub your eyes to make sure you are not asleep."

Yet today, and even in his time, Edison has stolen all the accolades.


It's because Edison was a persistent plodder who won mainstream approval and worked steadily enough to create more inventions. He was an excellent businessman who knew how to market and promote his inventions. He was also extremely productive.

Tesla, in contrast, was an eccentric genius, given to financial incompetence, compulsions and phobias.

Reporters loved him because he was always coming up with sensational comments. He made wild statements that won him public disapproval, like having received communication from other planets, like claiming that he could split the earth like an apple, and like claiming that he could create a death ray capable of destroying 10,000 airplanes at 250 miles.

In the end, persistence won over talent, sensible living over wild imaginative indulgence, and business acumen over financial mismanagement.

Edison died rich and famous; Tesla, poor and scorned.

Today, everybody remembers Edison, but the name Tesla generally draws a blank look when mentioned.

It's a sad story. Sometimes even overwhelming genius isn't enough to guarantee a successful life.

Persistence, more than brilliance, marked Thomas Alva Edison as the greatest electrical inventor in the history of the world.

There is nothing greater than persistence. With it, the most obscure undertaking will win. Without it, the most brilliant concept will be ignored. Persistence is to success what carbon is to steel.

As Calvin Coolidge once said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Genius will not. Education will not. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
About the Author
Saleem Rana would love to share his inspiring ideas with you. Hunting everywhere for a life worth living? Discover the life of your dreams. His book, Never Ever Give Up is offered at no cost to stimulate your success. http://www.theempoweredsoul.com/enter.html
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