Getty Images/Hulton Archive
Inventor Thomas Edison on Sticking to It

Thomas Edison’s 10 Most Inspiring Quotes

Sept. 22, 2014

Next month will mark the 135th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s first successful test of an incandescent lightbulb. As one of the greatest inventors of all time and a founder of the modern electrical industry, Edison was by any definition a true genius. Part showman, part engineer and a 100% practical inventor, Edison accumulated 1,093 patents in his lifetime. He is generally credited with inventing or developing the first practical electric lightbulb, phonograph, motion picture camera and electric generating station, along with a staggering number of lesser-known inventions.

Below are 10 quotations attributed to Thomas Edison that offer some insight into how he accomplished as much as he did in his lifetime. It should be no surprise that hard work is a common thread running through most of them.

1. “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work,” he said of his method of experimentation. “When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

2. “What you are will show in what you do.”

3. “Negative results are just what I want. They're just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”

4. "There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something." — Edison to engineers in his lab

5. “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and invent it.”

6. “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

7. “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

8. “The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.”

9. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

10. “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, ‘stick-to-itiveness,’ and common sense.”