“Blog – 10-7-15
Finding Ways That Won’t Work
I read a quote today that really resonated with me. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before creating the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Wow, what a powerful witness to the power of positive thinking and tenacity!
Think about how much fortitude it took to try something 10,000 times. I think I would have quit way before even 100 times. I would have thrown in the towel after probably 10 or 20, maybe 50 times at the most, but Edison kept right on going…failure after failure after failure. It’s hard to wrap my brain around that kind of resolve, yet I find it incredibly inspiring.
Edison truly lived out what the bible says in James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” He did not let his struggles defeat him, but he learned from them. They obviously matured him because he went on to hold a record number of 1,093 patents (singly or jointly) and was the driving force behind such innovations as the phonograph and one of the earliest motion picture cameras. This guy is a picture of perseverance.
Think about the times in your life when you have learned the most. What were the circumstances surrounding the key life lessons that you’ve learned? Were they learned when you succeeded at something or when you failed? For me, the biggest lessons I have learned about myself were definitely in times when I felt failure…during my divorce, during my years of dealing with infertility, and during the years I’ve struggled to build this ministry. They were all painful and difficult and felt like epic fails, but God has used all of them as times of growth. Failure is something none of us enjoys, but there’s no denying that it’s powerful.
Too many times when we fail at something, however, we give up. We tell ourselves, “I guess that just wasn’t meant to be” or “I guess I’m just not good enough to do it.” When I read this quote today, however, it stirred something inside of me and I hope it does you as well. It made me want to attack things just a little bit harder and try to come up with a new way to approach things I’ve been failing at.
I also realized the profound truth in the simple statement that we can learn from our failures…if we choose to, that is. Instead of letting them defeat us, we can evaluate where things went wrong, evaluate how we could change things up, and then muster up the courage to try them again. We CAN make a decision to learn from what hasn’t worked. Whether it’s in our personal relationships, our jobs, raising our kids, or whatever area of our lives that we feel like we are failing in, maybe it’s time to step back and reevaluate things. Maybe some of the roadblocks we’ve been running into and some of the perceived failures we’ve faced are actually learning tools that need to be embraced and studied to see where we can grow and mature in order to achieve the desired goal.
The plain and simple truth is we all learn from failing. Failing means that we are trying something new, and that’s a good thing!
So the next time you face failure and you want to quit, think about Thomas Edison sitting in his lab trying to invent the light bulb. Picture him trying over and over and over and over…10,000 times to be exact. Then think about how grateful you are that he didn’t quit because when you walk into a room you can flip a little switch and the room lights up. I don’t know about you, but I’m very grateful that he chose to learn from failure and kept right on going. Thanks be to God for his perseverance and his willingness to learn from the ways that didn’t work!
Hugs and love,