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In Part 5, it was described as the driving force, the foundation, the engine of meaningful accomplishment. It really is that central to a life well lived.

With a steady, firm belief in one’s self, one’s capabilities and the purpose(s) being pursued, there is nothing a person with resolute passion cannot do as they focus their prioritized tasks into a life purpose. Without belief, what happens? Plenty, but nothing good.

Thomas Edison’s mother, Nancy Edison. She pulled her son out of school at age 7, only three months after enrolling him, and decided instead to home-school him when his teacher complained that the boy was too stupid to learn anything. With constant reinforcement and support of his inquisitiveness, she convinced the boy that he was extremely intelligent. Many years later, Edison would write about the belief and self-confidence his mother instilled within him, saying that she “was the making of me. She was always so true and so sure of me.”
Information taken from, Thomas A. Edison and the Modernization of America by Martin V. Melosi (Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman/Little, Brown Higher Education, 1990).

A lack of belief means there is no confidence in any one particular thing, let alone one’s ability to attract successful opportunities, outcomes and relationships.

No confidence is uncertainty; uncertainty about one particular direction, one particular passion, one particular purpose. What does that sound like? A lack of focus. Is it possible that a lack of focus is evidence that there is a lack of belief? I believe so!

With no self-confidence and no focus, overwhelm creeps in. Wheels spin. Desperation and depression both find a welcome place to grow like mushrooms on manure. Belief is to such things what dynamite is to seemingly immovable obstacles in the road.

So, belief is the central and most vital ingredient to meaningful accomplishment. It keeps us moving forward, even when there is apparent evidence that suggests moving forward will lead nowhere.

Belief is a form of focus in and of itself. And it is a form of confidence in and of itself.

The story of one particular seven year-old boy named Thomas is a perfect example of the power of belief. After three months in school, Thomas’ teacher told the boy’s mother that Thomas’ brain was too “addled” for him to learn anything.

Fortunately for him, that little boy chose not to believe that assessment. Instead, he chose to believe better things about himself. And those better beliefs fueled and propelled a deep passion for learning.

The boy became a man and this man, Thomas Edison, became the world’s leading innovator, which ultimately led to 2,332 patents worldwide throughout his very productive life. If the inventor of the incandescent light bulb, had not believed that he could – and would! – accomplish great things, we would never have heard of him.

For more meaningful accomplishment in life, belief is a better idea than balance. One need only read a few paragraphs about Thomas Edison’s life to see that it was not one of balance.

There were opportunities he created and opportunities that seemed to come out of the blue. Some that succeeded and many that did not. There were failures, followed by victories, followed by defeats. Seemingly arbitrary? Yes. Balanced? No.

In the area of finances and controversy, there were times when Edison was cheated and lost money owed to investors that had been invested in his ideas, and there were times when he made a lot of money for those who invested in him. Throughout the course of his illustrious career Edison was, at times, the plaintiff and at other times the defendant in various lawsuits. The imbalance represented by financial uncertainty and sometimes legal controversy seems to go with the territory for most successful trailblazers.

Because of the way his mind worked, he often got very little sleep, especially when he was working on an important project, of which he often had several in progress at the same time, or when he was endeavoring to figure out a particularly complex problem. Not much balance there.

In 1914, his factory, encompassing 13 buildings, was destroyed by a fire. But believing this should be viewed as a positive development and not a devastating setback, Edison immediately thought of all the upgrades now possible with a new facility, and he spearheaded the rebuilding undertaking without looking back.

“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.” — Thomas Edison

And so, there was very little about Thomas Edison’s life that was predictable, let alone balanced. For all the balance his life lacked, Thomas Edison possessed a massive amount of belief that his work – whatever he was working on at a given time – was of great value. Unlike so many of us, he rightly believed that even the failed attempts to accomplish a certain outcome contained, in the attempt, information that would prove to be valuable at a future time.

Edison was big on belief. Was he also a big proponent of balance? Not so much.

“He led no armies into battle, he conquered no countries, and he enslaved no peoples… Nonetheless, he exerted a degree of power the magnitude of which no warrior ever dreamed. His name still commands a respect as sweeping in scope and as world-wide as that of any other mortal – a devotion rooted deep in human gratitude and untainted by the bias that is often associated with race, color, politics, and religion.” — from a eulogy by Arthur Palmer’s, longtime friend of Thomas Edison and one of Edison’s employees, after Edison’s death in 1931, that quote is still as true today as it was eighty years ago.

In the next installment, if Balance leads to safety and security while Belief is dangerous, why is Belief still so much better than Balance?


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