How Many Attempts Until Success?

How many times are YOU willing to try?

Many of us might respond that it “depends on what we are trying to do.”  It is human nature to get frustrated when our plan does not go well.  It is normal to feel disappointed when our efforts don’t appear to pay off.  It is understandable when all of our hard work seems to get us… nowhere.  If you have ever felt like you are running circles, it is fatiguing and the goal in the distance doesn’t get any closer, right?

Benjamin Franklin, inventor, statesman, author, scientist, and not to mention, Founding Father, knew something about perseverance.  Franklin and his team tested thousands of materials to create an incandescent light bulb that would be efficient and economical.  While the exact number of experiments is unclear, many historical articles claim that he tried anywhere from 3,000-6,000 types of materials in the light bulb before he found the one that not only worked but created a solution to the problem.  

This brilliant inventor had some foundational knowledge that then helped him formulate a theory and an abundance of passion, perseverance, and relentlessness.  Think about it.  How many times did he or one of his employees come to him having to once again acknowledge, “It didn’t work.” or “It’s too expensive and impractical.”?  More than 3,000 times!!!  How many times did he walk into his home at night knowing he hadn’t found the solution.  How many times did someone give him a hard time because his experiments had failed, yet again?  How many times was he the laughingstock at the party, maybe even unbeknownst to him, because he was the “mad inventor”?

How many times??

Before Franklin began work on the light bulb, he had to figure out more about electricity.  There were about 20 scientists and inventors before him who had devoted experiments, philosophical discussions and research to the area of electricity and creation of the light bulb, but everything invented to date was unreliable, cost a fortune and didn’t provide long lasting light.  He was out to make a better, practical and affordable solution that everyone could use and enjoy.

His years of researching electricity and harnessing it were not in vain.  Maybe crazy, but not for nothing.  Years before, wise ole’ Franklin decided to build a kite, wet the string and then put a key on the end to see what would happen when he flew it on a violently, stormy day.  Logical right?  But what he learned from this daring risk propelled him into a series of questions and experiments about how to create, harness and beam light into darkness.

And yet one day… he found it.  

According to the Edison Invention Foundation, “By creating a vacuum inside the bulb, finding the right filament to use, and running lower voltage through the bulb, Edison was able to achieve a light bulb that lasted for many hours.”

Truly, his perseverance and mental courage, shined light into dark, unknown areas of science.  

What if he had given up after 150 tries? 738 tries?  What if after 1000 tries he told his team, we will try just one more time? This unstoppable inventor has more than1000 patents with the U.S. Patent Office.  Franklin could have just moved on to another experiment, another invention, another idea. He could have called it quits.  No one would have faulted him for not trying.

What are you trying to accomplish?  

What have you been working towards in your health, parenting, marriage, career?  Have you mentally given up, throwing in the towel?  Do you join in the jokes on yourself, believing that you won’t get where you want to go?  Do you ever feel like you have run through all your options and nothing has produced the results you want? Do you speak words of defeat, feeling hopeless?

These are a few takeaways from good ole’ Franklin.  He was an imperfect man but he knew a thing or 2 about unwavering tenacity.  He had some good old fashioned grit.

A failure is a step.  When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Stop talking.  Start doing.  “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”— Benjamin Franklin

Busy does not get you where you want to go. Be intentional.  “Never confuse motion with action.”— Benjamin Franklin

Learn- daily, by the hour, every minute.  Don’t stop learning.  It will direct you where you want to go.  ‘Results!  Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!'”— Benjamin Franklin

You aren’t spinning wheels.

You are learning.  You are growing, developing, assessing, and evaluating. Take time to ponder your next steps.  Keep a supportive team around you willing to work with you and cheer you on.  Scream out some frustration if you must.  But don’t let a defeat conquer your passion.  Go give it another try.


TRUTH: We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy.

Colossians 1:11 (MSG)