In 1878, Thomas Edison had a ridiculous idea–to create a safe, cost-effective lamp that ran on… now get this…electricity!

Everyone knew that electricity was dangerous. Early attempts to use electricity to create light—in the form of arc lamps--had resulted in fires, explosions and meltdowns. Electricity obviously could never be used to safely light anything.

Edison, however, believed that it was possible to use electricity to create a practical, economical lamp. So, he invited reporters from New York to his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory, where he announced, as was his custom, that he would produce his new invention, along with a way to link it to power stations via underground cables, in six weeks.

The newspapers that published the announcement were not kind to him. His idea was too preposterous.

Edison was aware that he would probably have to enclose his lamp in glass, so he had glassblowers on staff. He knew he would probably need some experts–electrical engineers and mathematicians–so he had them available. His own formal education had stopped in the fourth grade. The only thing he had no clue about was what he would put in the lamp to make it work.

Three ideas drove Edison’s work:
1. He had a burning desire to create something—an electric powered lamp.

2. He believed that what he proposed was possible, even though just about everyone else—including experts of the time—told him it was not.

3. He was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen.

Edison instinctively knew that he needed a system for the work. A simple system--or even a stupid one—was, as he saw it, far more likely to get him results than having no system. And the system he devised was painfully simple:

1. Announce your goal
2. Develop a plan to reach the goal
3. Take immediate action on the plan, and
4. Persist until you succeed

Even the plan itself was simple: Randomly test any material or combination of materials until you find what works.

Edison initially believed that to find the materials he might need to make his lamp work in the time he promised he would probably have to experiment with a few hundred different materials. But after six weeks and thousands of experiments, he was no closer to finding something that would make his lamp glow than he was on the day he announced his goal.

Most people would have given up at this point, but Edison persisted for fourteen months and, according to legend, more than 10,000 experiments. In 1879, using low current electricity, a small carbonized thread, and after creating a vacuum inside a sealed glass globe, he was able to produce a reliable, long-lasting source of light that ran on electricity.

Years later, as another legend has it, young Napoleon Hill (author, Think and Grow Rich) asked Edison how he had the wherewithal to keep going, day after day, failing over and over again.

Edison is said to have remarked, “Young man, I never failed. I simply found 10,000 things that didn’t work and eliminated them.”

What do you want to create? Anyone can follow this simple formula and, with the help of a coach or someone to hold him or her accountable, make it happen.

Author's Bio: 

After nearly losing his first of three successful battles with cancer, Sandy Schussel went from being a successful but unhappy attorney to being one of the top leadership and performance coaches...and loving his work.

He has published two books, THE HIGH DIVING BOARD: How to Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams and BECOME A CLIENT MAGNET: 27 Strategies to Boost Your Client-Attraction Factor and has contributed articles to several online publications, including CEO Magazine and SelfGrowth.

While Sandy is a strong believer in self improvement, he is also a strong believer in the power of coaching.