Science and its history has always fascinated me since I can recall. And in that history of Science and invention, two names stands out, largely because of their well documented and popular "current" wars... Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla(a lot of people will disagree with me, heck! I even disagree with myself but ya, let's just put Thomas there, he fits the bill).
It is often said that there are three types of people in the world. The Edison people, the Tesla People and those who are just existing on earth. It all depends on whose side you are on (I am every inch a Tesla guy by the way) both men are geniuses in their own right, with Tesla being the mad scientist who didn't understand the cut throat world of business and Edison being the shrewd entrepreneur and inventor (I can’t help but shed a few tears while typing this). Tesla had an eidetic memory, Thomas had to teach himself how to remember things. Tesla's grand scheme failed when his financial backer, J.P. Morgan, became fed up with years of failure. Edison had ways to raise money and for those who didn't know, he founded the General Electric Company. Tesla used to work for Edison, but left because Edison didn't honor his promise of paying him $50,000 for fixing one of Edison's ideas. Edison was the DC current guy who patented and is credited as the inventor of the light bulb, phonograph and motion picture camera, Tesla was the AC current guy, who started the wireless communication revolution. I digress, that's not the reason we're here.
I recently came across an article about a young Thomas Edison who came home one day from school with a paper for his mother.
He told his mother, “My teacher told me to give this paper you.”
According to the story, Thomas’ mother read the note and her eyes filled with tears. Thomas asked his mother what the note said, and she read aloud, “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself.”
This ended Edison's three months of official schooling. And he earnestly began schooling at home.
Many years later, after Thomas Edison’s mother passed on, and he was now one of the world’s greatest inventors (sighs) he found a folded paper amongst other family items.
He opened the very same paper that had been handed to him to give to his mother and read the following message: “Your son is mentally ill. We won’t let him come to school anymore.”
At that moment, Edison realized what his mother had done for him so many years ago and he wrote in his diary: “ Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century. My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint."
Now I know some people will be stuck on the ethical side of things whether it was right for Edison's mother to lie to him and other murky ethical issues surrounding Mr. T. E Edison. I may even have my own personal reservations about him but I have never ceased to wonder, how did he do it?
You see, Science is all about problem solving, which involves a lot of observations and coming up hypothesis and theories to explain the observed problems and here's a guy whose teachers completely discounted as no good after 3 months of basic school.. Becoming the world's foremost businessman and inventor.. How?!
Some would say it was his mother, who never gave up on her son, who was gentle, patient and understanding with him. Others will call him a cheat, a manipulator or someone who stole other people's ideas. Whatever you call him, this guy was a genius. He taught himself a lot of things that helped him achieve the impossible and put him in the history books forever to be known by generations and generations to come.
Thomas Edison and his mother didn't allow other people's opinions to define them and what they could achieve. Thomas Edison's mother knew that the teacher's opinion is just what it was, an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. She understood that in other to disprove that opinion, she had to put the "extra" in the ordinary in other to secure her son's future and prove the teachers wrong.. She never gave up on him because of what "they" said.
Most times, we let the opinions of others define what we can be. School grades, examination reports, advice from parents and friends. We limit ourselves because one "important" person told us that this is our limit and we can't go any further. We end up with a fixed mindset or fixation in thinking like the psychologist will call it.
The opinions of others can only limit you if you believe it and live it out. It may seem impractical and impossible, but history is full of people who has overcome these limits placed on them by others to achieve greatness beyond measure.
What did they say you can't do? Are you ready and willing to pay the price of proving them wrong?