Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.

Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure. – Thomas Edison

Looks like this guy has figured out how to make a light-bulb with no wires. Perhaps he is working on it with Tesla?

Looks like this guy has figured out how to make a light-bulb with no wires. Perhaps he is working on it with Tesla? But seriously, are you satisfied with yourself and where you are?

What does that mean?
This is another Twitter friendly quote, taken from a longer passage in his diary. “Restlessness is discontent — and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man — and I will show you a failure.”

Now that sounds just a little harsh, doesn’t it? A failure? But if you think about it, someone who is thoroughly satisfied is in need or want of nothing. What will motivate them to do anything? As a consequence, they will do very little, if anything.

Conversely, a restless person, or one who is discontented, will have a motivation and a desire to do something, as they have a want or a need. This action is what defines success and the lack thereof what defines failure in the eyes of one of the worlds greatest inventors.

His measure of worth had to do with industry, or the action which a person would take to acquire what they wanted or to finish a task. Those who were motivated did good work, those who were satisfied did not.

Why is being industrious important?  
How would you like to work for a boss with standards like that? One thing is certain, you’d be as productive as you had ever been in your life, right? There wouldn’t be any slacking off, or much goofing off. But there would be a lot of work done, and a lot of tasks accomplished.

You’d go home knowing you gave your best, and accomplished something, even if it was simply finding another way to not make a light-bulb. Yeah, it might not be all that thrilling, but we all have to make a living doing something, so why not give it your best?

That is what this quote is about, about being restless and discontented. It’s about wanting something, and working towards it. Whether it’s at work or in your personal life, having a desire to be more, to have more, to do more, to help more, that is the essence of having a sense of worth.

Where can I apply this in my life?
I would hope that you would already be applying this in your personal development. Hopefully you don’t think you know everything you could know, that you aren’t completely satisfied.

I also hope that you aren’t completely satisfied with your physical condition and health, and that you are working to improve that aspect of your life as well.

You might be tempted to exclude professional athletes or those very serious about their physical condition (perhaps Olympic athletes or Tri-athletes), but they are probably far more motivated to improve themselves than the average person.

Not that we all need to be at that level of industriousness, but it certainly would get us up and moving a little more often if we had a little more discontent about our physical shape, right?

I have been nursing a couple minor injuries and telling myself that I’m in great shape for my age. What a bunch of lousy excuses those are, right? One toe and one shoulder, and I do basically nothing? That is the very definition of failure, isn’t it?

Where in your life have you become complacent or satisfied? Even your romantic life? It may be great, but are you sure there is absolutely no way to make it better?

It is my belief that none of us are perfect. By that definition, we all can improve, with some level of effort. The better we are, the harder it might be to move up any significant amount, but I believe it is a worthy effort.

What have you come up with? Grab some paper and write down a few areas where you could stand to put forth some industriousness and improve. I definitely need to work on my physical health and my relationships within my family.

Do you see any patterns in the aspects of your life where you are complacent? For me, it was areas where I was comparing myself to others and determined I was doing so much better than they were. That lead me to believe I didn’t need to improve. I can be pretty stupid sometimes.

Take a moment and determine which of these you want to start with, and come up with some ideas about what you think would be a good first step. Write those ideas down, along with where you want to get to, and what some of the steps along that path might be.

Now all you need to do is take that first step. Don’t be satisfied that you have a plan, you need to take action. Even if it’s finding out what the hours are for the local gym, or where the nearest flower shop is, get busy!

Satisfaction and complacency lead to decay and failure. Don’t be completely satisfied, except for a brief moment when you celebrate your latest success. Then it’s time to move to the next task, and improve your life in some other way.

From: Twitter, @quotedojo
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomasaed109005.html
Photo by RLHyde

Happy Birthday to Thomas “The Wizard of Menlo Park” Edison, born 11 February, 1847.

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3 Responses to Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.

  1. Mary 11 February 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I think this is one of my favorite quotes/passages, along with ‘either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about’ (March 13, 2011). Your elaborating article is well done, and sits on my heart in a manner that brings me to a place I had neglected to remember to draw my thinking from. Just this morning I was making decisions that flow in the direction of ‘giving up the fight.’ Yielding towards the ‘that’s just the way it is.’ Wonderful how we gain from each other, a thought hatched, to continue a worthwhile rise to our very best.

    • philosiblog 12 February 2013 at 3:55 am #

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad they were of some use to you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Prickly City: Does he know the cure for discontentment? | Scott Stantis - 31 December 2015

    […] motivate us to accomplish more, to look for ways to improve our lives. Thomas Edison said that “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”  When people are not content with the status quo, they work to change […]

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