Learn To Think Like Thomas Edison 1

“Genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration.”

-Thomas Edison

While inspiration cannot replace persistence and determination, it is nonetheless a crucial catalyst in every great accomplishment.

Just pulling your mower’s rip cord might not cut your grass very quickly, but neither will only filling the gas tank.  Combined, however, pulling the rip cord with a full gas tank will get you far.

So it is with inspiration and perspiration.

Finding good inspiration can be very difficult.  Even in our information-glutted world, true inspiration can be hard to come by… unless you look in the right places.


Wise quotes from the great leaders and thinkers of the past can be one of the best sources of inspiration.  In fact, this is one reason that I start all articles on Practical Manliness with a quote.

Unfortunately, sorting out the great quotes from the average or even wrong musings can be rather difficult.  Some of my favorite sources for quotes include Practical Quotations (a sister site to Practical Manliness), Brainy Quote, and Quote Garden.

If you would rather browse than search, you might enjoy parts of the 300 Inspiring Quotes of All Time ebook and, of course, the Founders Speak ebook I published last year.


Reading about the lives of great men in different time periods can be greatly inspiring.  After studying the amazing lives others have already led, our own plans and visions no longer seem so impossible.

While any accurate history or biography can provide this inspiration, I have found manly autobiographies to be particularly powerful.  Whether you are reading Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington or The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, autobiographies of great Christians can provide important encouragement to stand strong and be men.

Just remember to choose your reading wisely, thought.  An incorrect history or a wicked autobiography can be the reverse of inspiration.


The friends you associate with will also have a major influence on your life.  Godly friends can provide a level of personal inspiration that cannot be found in any autobiography.  As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Choose your friends well, and they will be one of your best sources of inspiration.


When chosen wisely, music can inspire us to greatness.

Not only is the beauty of the composer’s writing and the performer’s execution an encouragement to go and do likewise, but certain types of music have an innately positive influence caused by the rhythm and music structure.  Classical and Baroque pieces are frequently good examples of this type.

On the other hand, other types of music lend themselves to dark and sensual thoughts.  As with most sources of inspiration, music is a double-sided sword which must be handled with care.

God’s Creation

One of the most majestic sources of inspiration can be utilized with little or no extra time cost.  We are constantly surrounded by God’s creation on our way to work and school, but we rarely give it much attention.  Simply looking out our windows at stop lights and absorbing the beauty of the the swaying trees, vibrant grass, and drifting clouds provides a vast amount of inspiration.  Just remember to pay attention to the road when you are actually driving!

To go a step further, take the time to enjoy a sunset, go for a hike, or take a bicycle tour.  You will come back refreshed and creative.

Unrealistic planning

As Niccolo Machiavelli advised in The Prince, “Make no small plans, for they have no power to stir the soul.”  Though Machiavelli is certainly not a personification of manliness, this particular quote is very true.  “Impossible” goals have the power to inspire the planner and unite a group of excited, enthusiastic people.

On the other hand, we must also keep in mind the reverse.  Large, slow goals can be demotivational and are often best broken down into smaller actions.

Find the balance that works best for you.


Reading and studying the Bible provides the greatest inspiration and encouragement.  Where else can we learn from the very word of God?

As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Because the Bible is so important to the spiritual well-being of a Christian, regular reading is imperative.  Personally, I have found The One Year Bible (KJV) to be an excellent way to keep in the Word.

Your Turn

Where do you find inspiration?  Or are you trying to succeed with 100% perspiration?

One comment on “Learn To Think Like Thomas Edison

  1. Reply Ben May 11,2011 6:25 AM

    Good article. The King James Bible has shaped our society more than anything else. It’s what made America great and inspired thousands of manly men to greatness.

    It’s a shame it’s going by the wayside in this increasingly liberal and heathen society.

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