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May 12, 2022

I can ('t) do it


Thomas Edison is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time, being the man who developed the electric light bulb. Every time we turn a light bulb on or off we see the imprint of his innovation. Today we all recognise his contribution to society, as the world would not be as we know it without him. However, for the people around him back in the 1860s, Edison may had been one of those inventors who struggled in vain to create something innovative. In his endless attempts to "make a light bulb turn on" he was asked if he felt like a failure and to that he replied, "None of my previous efforts have been failures. I now know more than 2000 ways that a light bulb does not light." But I wonder what it was that made Edison perceive his failures in this way, not to give up and finally succeed?

Purely by association, the first thing one would probably think of as the main factor that contributes to people not giving up at the first failure is confidence. The realistic expectation that we can in fact achieve something, the belief in ourselves and our abilities. Indeed, there is a widespread ideology that we do what we believe we can do and that we have the potential to succeed in anything, only if we believe that we actually have the power to do it. In fact, it is even scientifically proven that there is a positive correlation between self-confidence and performance in various areas of life. Undeniably, it is important to clarify that self-confidence is not related to the perception (or illusion if you wish) that we can do anything. As an asterisk in its definition, it includes a prudent assessment of our limits and capabilities and, at the same time, the idea that we can perform to the best of our abilities at all times regardless of circumstances.

But apart from the faith Edison had in himself and his abilities (and the donkey-like patience he surely had since he didn't even stop at the 1999th time he didn't turn on the light bulb),he probably did something else that led him to success and to "posterity". He did not hesitate to go beyond the trivial and seek to create something that no one until then perhaps thought was reasonable that it could happen. He did not give in to the opinions and ideas of those around him, but decided to push the boundaries and not to be afraid to innovate. Fear is certainly something that often makes us stop, give up or worse, never get started in the first place. However, let's think about how different our lives would be if we too let the fear of failure overwhelm us and break out of our "safety zone" by pursuing a change.

So, trying to push our limits and daring to go beyond our limits without fear of the new, combined with confidence is what is probably ultimately the one-way street to success. Edison said before the end of his life that "the genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration", which in simple Greek means that the important thing is not only to be inspired by something new but to "sweat it out" to achieve it. Because any light bulb can be lit, as long as we don't lose our courage.


Author
Lydia Karavasili

Born in the small but heroic Mesologgi. She studies Psychology in Aristotle University, but outside of it she tries to combine it with dancing. She loves travelling, even though she’s far from her goal to travel the entire world. Her favourite word is “try.”


Translators
Anastasia Tolmaidou (she/her)

Born in Thessaloniki in the middle of summer. She is supposedly studying law but mostly she is spending her time planning trips that will probably never happen and searching for the cheapest plane tickets options. She loves keeping up with series that last multiple seasons and is watching The Office any chance she gets. The only reason for her to wake up early in the morning is to attend a horse-riding class or to catch a flight.

Panagiota Ioannidou (she/her)

A vegetarian from Thessaloniki that fell in love at first sight with the English language. She has a mind full of poems trapped in a ballerina’s body. Torn between chaos and peace. In times of darkness, she keeps searching for inspiration, warm hugs, long journeys and the kiss of her dog. Books, chocolate, wine, love - this is what she is made of.

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