Edison’s lesson

On December 10, 1914, a massive explosion occurred at Thomas Edison’s film plant. Burning down more than half of the buildings. The results were catastrophic. It was estimated that Edison lost about $1 million. (Which would equate to about $23 million today.)

During the fire, Edison calming told his son to, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.”

The flames were too big and the water pressure was too low to subdue. Recognizing that there was nothing else Edison could do. He made his peace and watched the spectacle.

When Edison’s son tried to reason with his father, Edison simply replied, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”

That rubbish was some of his life work and patents.

Edison later that night proclaimed, “I am 67, but I’m not too old to make a fresh start.”

The next morning with the flames barely under control. He called his team of workers together and announced, “We’re rebuilding.”

They got to work. Edison asked one man to lease all the machines shops in the area. And another he asked to get a wrecking crane. As an afterthought, Edison asked his crew if, “Anybody knew where we can get some money?”

(Edison would later get a sizable loan from his good friend Henry Ford.)

And just like that. Three weeks later, the plant was producing more than ever. Edison and his team went on to make almost $10 million in revenue the following year.

Edison didn’t waste any time complaining what he couldn’t control. He instead took control of his circumstances and went to work. A lesson we can all learn when we have a devastating event or explosion occur in our lives: it’s never too late to try again.

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Josh Allred

Professional blogger. Impresario. Helping others to leap.