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Thomas Edison: Motivational Monday

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Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman who have been described as America’s greatest inventor. He developed many devices in the fields, such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures.

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Welcome to A-classes Motivational Monday, a video series where we learn from the brightest minds who can inspire us through their actions. Our main focus throughout this month is Finding Your Life Purpose and the bright mind we are going to learn from today is Thomas Edison.

He worked as an inventor of major technology, including the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb. And he is credited today for helping to build America’s economy during the industrial revolution. But who really was this historic icon and what can we learn from him today?

Childhood Background Of Thomas Alva Edison

Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He was the youngest of seven children of Samuel and Nancy Edison. His father was a political activist who was exiled from Canada, while his mother was a school teacher from whom Edison is said to have gotten much of his early life influence.

It needs to be pointed out that as a child Edison didn’t have any particular advantage, compared to any other children of his time. In fact, he was worse off in most of the cases. As a child, he was affected with scarlet fever, a disease whose symptoms include a sore throat, fever, headaches and more. Edison equally had some hearing difficulties in both ears as a child and nearly as deaf even as an adult.

When in 1854, Edison’s family moved to Port Huron in Michigan, Edison only attended public school for a total of 12 weeks. He was a hyperactive child, prone to distraction and he was described by his teacher as a difficult child.

Why I Share That Part Of The Story With You

What I am trying to tell you here is that you should not look at the picture already composed and write yourself off that you are not as smart or intelligent like the other people out there. You are well able to do what you want. The only question is whether you are willing to fail and fail again, with people looking at you like you don’t know what you are doing because they can’t see the result. That is what it takes and if you can endure that, then your success is almost sure and only a question of time to show up.

His Determination To Fulfil His Life Purpose From Early On

Following the lamentations from his school, Edison’s mother quickly pulled him from school and taught him at home. By the age of 11, he showed a strong appetite for knowledge, reading books on a wide range of subjects. When he was 12, he convinced his parents to let him sell newspapers to passengers along the Grand Trunk Railroad line. Exploiting his access to the news bulletins teletype to the station office each day, Edison began publishing his own small newspaper, called the Grand Trunk Herald.

Another thing Edison was very good at was taking advantage of available opportunities as they came. With his access to the railroad, he started to conduct some chemical experiments in a small laboratory he set up in a train baggage car. During one of his experiments, a chemical fire started and the car caught fire. For this reason, Edison was kicked off the train and he continued to sell his newspapers at several stations along the route.

If you have heard of the saying that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, you can better connect here. The opportunity will always come around sometimes, but only the prepared individuals will benefit from the opportunities. It’s when you are not really prepared or do not know what you want that you think that opportunity never passes your way. This will be demonstrated again in Edison’s life.

The year is 1866, Edison was 19 years old this time and he has moved to Louisville, Kentucky, working for The Associated Press. The night shift allowed him to spend most of his time reading and experimenting. Through this, he developed an unrestricted style of thinking and inquiry, proving things to himself with objective examination and experimentation.

Portrait of Edison by Abraham Archibald Anderson (1890), National Portrait Gallery

What about you, are you among those who think opportunity never pass their ways? Which opportunity has remained essential to you? Let me know in the comment section below. I will like to hear from you.

The Success Stories Of His Inventions

Edison’s invention works only started to pay off in 1869 when he was 22 years old. He has now moved to New York City and developed his first invention, an improved stock ticker called the Universal Stock Printer, which synchronized several stock tickers’ transactions.

The Gold and Stock Telegraph Company was so impressed that they paid him $40,000 for the rights. With this success, Edison quit his work as a telegrapher to devote himself full-time to inventing.

By the early 1870s, he had acquired a reputation as a first-rate inventor. In 1870, he set up his first small laboratory and manufacturing facility in Newark, New Jersey, and employed several people to work with him.

In December of 1877, Edison developed a method for recording sound: the phonograph, a tin-coated cylinder with two needles: one for recording sound, and another for playback. Although the invention was not commercially viable for another decade, the phonograph brought him worldwide fame, especially when the device was used by the U.S. Army to bring music to the troops overseas, during World War I.

Another most important invention of Edison is in the light bulb. While Edison was not the inventor of the first light bulb, but he was the one who came up with the technology that helped bring it to mass consumption.

As determined as he was, Edison went on to invent many other things, at least 15 of them that make our lives easier today.

Even with his limitations both from family background and at a personal level, Edison looked around himself and took advantage of the opportunities around him, especially his determination to improve himself and he made an immersed contribution to humanity.

What You Can Take Away From This

You, what can you do with all the opportunities around you today? Perhaps you are not sick and most probably you are not deaf, so what are you determined to do with your time and your personal potentials so that humanity can be better because of you? It’s true… you might be another type of Edison, so find your own light and light up your own life purpose.

Did you find this article valuable to you? Share your thoughts on the comment section below. Check out our YouTube channel and subscribe so you never miss any of our educational videos. Until next week, have a wonderful time.


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Obehi Ewanfoh

Obehi Ewanfoh

He is an author and instructor on self-improvement strategy. He is the founder of A-classes eLearning platform and he is extremely passionate about helping people to improve themselves so they can get more out of their lives. He lives with his family in Verona, Italy.

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