Failure is often the best option

Without him, your car wouldn’t start electronically, solar technology would be very different from what it is today, and diesel engines might not exist. Who am I referring to? World-famous inventor, Charles Kettering.

Kettering was not only an inventor of many things that impacted the world we live in today, he was also one of the most creative geniuses of the early 1900s.

When asked about what makes a creative inventor, Kettering stated:

“An inventor is simply a person who doesn’t take his education too seriously. You see, from the time a person is six years old until he graduates from college he has to take three or four examinations a year. If he flunks once, he is out. But an inventor is almost always failing. He tries and fails maybe a thousand times. It he succeeds once then he’s in. These two things are diametrically opposite. We often say that the biggest job we have is to teach a newly hired employee how to fail intelligently. We have to train him to experiment over and over and to keep on trying and failing until he learns what will work.” 

While in school, we are often educated into believing that we must succeed, we are taught that mistakes should be avoided. Kettering, on the other hand, understood that - in order to be truly successful and creative, we need to accept failure and not fear it.

Looking back through history, Kettering had 300 patents to his name, most of which never impacted anyone. Thomas Edison had attempted to create a sustainable and affordable lightbulb thousands of times before he finally had a breakthrough. Albert Einstein wrote thousands of research papers that were considered average - and sometimes even awful - before he was recognized as a genius.

There has never been an inventor in the history of mankind who has solved a problem, changed the world, or been recognized as a genius, before failing several times.

Without failure, success is impossible.