Motivation from the Masters

Here are a few of the best lessons I’ve received from the masters.  Although tried and true, their stories and hardships keep me energized, upbeat, and thinking bigger.

1. Don’t give up

Thomas Edison performed 10,000 experiments before he discovered the light bulb. Friends asked him what he would carry on after getting no results.  Edison said, “I got lots of results.  I now know 10,000 ideas that don’t work.”

Beethoven had his share of critics during his time and was in constant conflict with the royalty that hired him to write his works.  His response:  “A few fly bites cannot stop a spirited horse.”

Henry Ford lost money in two companies before he built the Ford company of today.  He also had the idea to mass-produce watches before he applied it to cars, so sometimes the “big idea” takes a few iterations before the winner is shaped.

2. Recover quickly from setbacks

Edison’s lab burned down when he was 67 years old.  He said, “I’ll make a fresh start in the morning.”

Samuel Goldwyn lost bother parents before he was 11.  He escaped Poland, begged across Germany, and made it to England where he got a job.  By age 13, he made it to New York and worked as a glove cutter.

Quite a few famous names lost one or both parents at a young age.  Here’s just a sample:

  • Marie Curie lost her mother at 10.
  • Michelangelo lost his mother at 6.
  • Isaac Newton’s father died before he was born.
  • Thomas Jefferson lost his father at age 14.
  • Leo Tolstoy lost his mother when he was 2 and his father when he was 9.

3. Don’t worry about what other people think

At age 7 Albert Schweitzer joined a group of boys that were hunting birds.  Albert shooed them away before any of the boys could take aim.  The boys beat him up, but Albert took “Thou shall not kill” to heart.

Verdi got kicked by a priest when daydreaming about music.

Pasteur received mediocre grades in chemistry.

Cezannes the impressionist painter was enrolled in law school by his father.  He spent his leisure time putting the French legal code into verse.

Galileo wrote the laws of motion in secret after he was imprisoned.

Albert Einstein’s teachers said he was mentally slow.  He failed his college entrance exams, and he was rejected because he was Jewish.

Churchill was last in his studies and failed his military exam.

4. Think big.

Thomas Jefferson made a point to “see beyond the horizon of his own existence.”

Mother Cabrini said, “Anybody can do the possible.  The real fun is to do the impossible.”  This is one of my favorite quotes.

Da Vinci’s motto was “Good but do better.”

5. Give back.

When Verdi was asked what his best work was, he answered, “A home for destitute musicians that I have endowed at Milan.”

Albert Schweitzer said those who have sought happiness and found it have learned how to serve.

Which history maker do you admire?  Post your favorites below.