Back To Career News

#WednesdayWisdom: 5 Tips on Success From Famous Inventors

It took 1,000 tries for Thomas Edison to hit on the perfect prototype for the light bulb. When asked by a reporter how he felt about failing 1,000 times, he said, "I didn't fail a 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." The lesson? Without perseverance and hard work, even geniuses will get stuck at the 1,000-steps stage and miss the success that awaits them on the other side.

It took 1,000 tries for Thomas Edison to hit on the perfect prototype for the light bulb. When asked by a reporter how he felt about failing 1,000 times, he said, “I didn’t fail a 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

The lesson? Without perseverance and hard work, even geniuses will get stuck at the 1,000-steps stage and miss the success that awaits them on the other side.

Hedy Lamarr

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb

Another Edison quote, and a good one, this bit of wisdom reminds us that nothing comes easily – especially the most important things in your career, like a big promotion or choice project.

That’s not to say that it’s a good idea to keep banging your head against the wall when things aren’t working out. Sometimes, you need to take a break, regroup, and come at the problem from a new angle. But, don’t give up. You never know when you’re almost there.

2. “You want to be extra rigorous about making the best possible thing you can. Find everything that’s wrong with it and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends.” – Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX

Whether you’re writing your resume and cover letters, preparing for a job interview, or working on a big project for your job, an outside perspective is crucial. If nothing else, you need someone else to find the tiny flaws that you can no longer see, because you’re too close to it.

3. “There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation – veneer isn’t worth anything.” – George Washington Carver, inventor of various products using peanuts, soybeans, and more

Practice makes perfect, but preparation brings everything together.

Hopefully, you wouldn’t go into a job interview without researching the company and thinking about salary ranges. (If you’re in the habit of skipping that part, now’s the time to change that: PayScale’s Salary Survey will generate a free salary report that tells you exactly how much you’re worth on the job market.)

4. “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci, inventor, sculptor, painter, engineer

At the end of the day, you’ll be remembered for what you do, not what you intended to do. So do your research, develop your strategy, and go get what you deserve, whether it’s a raise or a promotion or a better job.

5. “Jack Kennedy always said to me, Hedy, get involved. That’s the secret of life. Try everything. Join everything. Meet everybody.” – Hedy Lamarr, inventor of spread spectrum communications

The secret to networking is that it’s really just making friends. There are more ways to do that than there were steps in inventing the light bulb, but the bottom line is that you need to meet a lot of people to find your people. Get out there and get connecting.

Sources: Brainy Quote, Business Insider, Biography

Tell Us What You Think

What inspires you to do your best? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.