What is Greater than Genius?

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed
in overalls and looks like work.”
~Thomas Edison~


This week the scientific world is celebrating the discovery of a sub-atomic particle that may be the key to the formation of stars, planets and eventually life after the Big Bang. Called the Higgs Boson, or god particle, many questions remain about the exact nature of this particle. When the news was announced in Switzerland, the audience of scientists applauded wildly.

Their excitement may be explained in part by the fact that it has taken the cooperation of thousands of scientists working over four decades to find the particle that is essential to seeing that there’s an invisible field that permeates the universe and gives mass to everything in it including stars and of course the atoms inside our bodies. This is a very big deal.

Now what I know about quantum physics you could put inside the eye and a gnat and it could still see.  But the thing that snagged my attention was the obvious joy and excitement expressed by what is usually a pretty staid and stoic group of human beings.  Scientists are cautious in their pronouncements about important discoveries.  Generally not prone to drama.

The other thing that struck me is that they have been looking for this sub-atomic particle for so long and that it has taken a huge army of people working steadily on the problems involved in finding it.  40 years!

It reminded me of Thomas Edison who worked doggedly on his invention of the electric light bulb. He and his associates worked on at least three thousand different theories to develop an efficient incandescent lamp. We admire his genius, but often overlook the years of work, trial and error that he required to finally succeed.  Most of his contemporaries had long since given up by that time.  He was quoted as saying, “”Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Does it sometimes seem to you that what you need to succeed is a unique and amazing idea?  Surely that would be the key to success, whether you want to invent something, meet a challenging goal, make a career change or start a new business.  It really is amazing when that figurative light bulb goes off in your mind.  But I think Edison and the quantum physicists would tell us that that is just a nanosecond of the story.

After the great idea, then it’s time to put on your overalls and get to work. And to expect to persevere in that work for a long time, if need be. Keeping focused on the target and then persevering despite setbacks and errors will get you to your goal eventually.  Those mistakes are essential to the process and must not deter you.

Can you imagine how many trials and errors Edison and the quantum physicists must have encountered?  And all of it provided feedback that enabled them to make the eventual changes that led to success possible.  Whatever achievement you are working on, find the support and inspiration you need to keep on your path. You can persevere and succeed.