Failure is not a Failing, it's an Opportunity

While Edison's most well-known successes were instant wins, his little known failures should be enough to keep you pushing through and remind you that failure is not the end, it is merely an opportunity.


Here are some of Edison's 'failures' and what we can learn from them:

The automatic vote recorder- Edison saw the manual and time consuming method in which votes were taken in the courthouse, each voter taking turns to stand up and announce their vote. He invented an automatic vote recorder which is a variant of what we use today yet was thrown out immediately because of the pomp and circumstance the voters clung to back in Edison's time.

The Kinetophone - a peep hole motion picture viewer (Kinetoscope) combined with a phonograph that played inside the cabinet. The invention never took off but was an early form of the television set.

Edison Portland Cement Co. - a company Edison created to create furniture, houses, even pianos from concrete - an idea that was far to oexpensive at the time to be of any success but later found some success when his company was hired to build Yankee Stadium in New York.

Mining - after trying and failing multiple times to create a practical way to mine iron ore, Edison sold his stock in General Electric to continue inventing but lost all his money in the process.

*The Electric Pen *- Powered by a small battery and motor, the pen housed a handheld needle that moved up and down as the user wrote, punching tiny holes through the paper's surfance. The idea was that the pen would create a stencil that couple be copied by rolling ink over it onto a page lying underleaf. The pen though was found to be messy and noisy and has been compared to an early tattoo needle.

The tinfoil phonograph - getting the right machine took nearly a decade and a whole lot of variations to achieve. Good things take time - a lot of it, and a lot of revisions. Don't rush it.

The Talking Doll - Edison crafted a miniature version of his phonograph and installed it in dolls he'd imported from Germany however consumers complained that the dolls were to fragile and broke too easily and the voice was ghastly.

The Edison Home Service Club- Edison's National Phonograph Co. created less expensive versions of the phonograph for consumers to bring into their homes. He expanded by offering consumers access to his record catalogue by offering subscribers 20 records in the mail each month as samples. The consumers then ordered the records they wanted and sent the samples on to the next subscriber.

*Home Projecting Kinetoscope *- Edison introduced a motion picture projector for non-commerial use with the intention that churches and schools could use it as an educational tool and that consumers could bring it into their homes.The price point though was prohibitive and only 500 units were sold.

Edison the Filmmaker - Edison experimented with producing motion pictures of oneor two reels, the content varying between documentary, comedy and drama. He did make significant revenue from it, around $5.8 million in today's value but audiences wanted longer feature films rather than educational shorts and so it was short-lived.

Edison was all about the ideas and leaping in headfirst, consequence be damned. Granted many of his initial inventions would have eventually foudn success with the right staff to collaborate with as most of his issues were with the software side of his inventions, the hardware was solid and formed the basis of so many modern day electronics.

He teaches us to always jump in, headfirst, to not fear the uncertainty, the financial ruin, the reputation of failue because in failure there is opportunity, in failure there is hope, in failure and the willingness to get up time after time, there is resilience and strength of character and the gumption it takes to be a true entrepreneur.

Be brave. Believe. Don't fear failure, it's your opportunity to revise, to grow and relaunch more effectively every time.