thomas edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, didn’t just pop a lightbulb out of his ass and become famous. in fact, it took edison a purported 10,000 trials before he came up with the bulb. first, he tried everything he could think of. he even went so far as to try to build one using peanut butter!
now, i’m no engineering genius, but even i could have guessed that peanut butter wasn’t the trick.
but that didn’t faze him. not at all. he just kept plugging along (no pun intended) until the lightbulb popped into his head and voila! the whole world was changed.
i think my favorite quote of all time came out of that grand experiment when old thomas declared, “i have not failed 10,000 times. i have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
now, anyone who follows me on facebook knows that i have a bit of a fetish for peanut butter (or, more specifically, reese’s peanut butter cups), so perhaps that is why this whole process hits so close to home. or perhaps it’s because of the fact that day in and day out i encounter students who try a challenging pose once–or don’t even try it once–before giving up and deciding they can’t do it.
i used to teach one particular class where newbies would routinely sulk on their comfortable yoga mats as i encouraged the group to come to the wall for handstands. it was only after they saw one particular regular–a woman with one hand (!)–kick up into a handstand and whoop her war-whoop (which she did every time she went up) that they would start to take some apprehensive steps towards the wall and maybe even give it a shot.
trying new things and taking risks are the only ways that we can grow in this world. and if the first 10,000 times don’t work, learn from your mistakes and try again…differently. because you will never reach that magical 10,001 unless you first put in the work of the first 10,000 falls.