The Other Side of Success: Edison II

To be successful at a given endeavour means that some sort of sacrifices have been made: if success were that easy, everyone would be successful (though what it means to be "successful" is debatable).
But I think that if we look closer at the lives of many "successful" people, we might find behaviour that we would be happier without - even at the cost of being less of a success. It is known that Nietzsche, the inventor of the super man, wrote letters home to mummy dearest (hardly the ruthless warrior ubermensch he posited). Yet, who can deny the genius in his writings, in the sense that there is so much thought in what he wrote. Whether it is healthy thought, or thought that is of the guiding kind, is irrelevant in this respect. Nietzsche was successful - or was he?
Similarly, when I think of Edison, I cannot deny his success in so many respects. I think there are things that I could stand to learn from him: his extreme inclination to the commercial serves as a clear example for me, given my inclination to put my mind out to pasture as often as possible.
But I would never want to emulate all of Edison's ways, in fact, I think that there is as much to learn in a negative as there is in a positive sense from this historical figure:
1. He executed animals including Topsy the elephant (albeit an elephant that killed several men) in his theatricals to prove (wrongly) Tesla's alternate current inferior to his direct current electricity. He filmed these examples of torture as part of his propaganda.
2. He never paid Tesla for work he did.
3. He sacrificed his workers' well-being to make his inventions, never hesitating "to use men up as freely as Napoleon or Grant: seeing only the goal of a complete invention or perfected device, to attain which all else must become subsidiary."
4. He scorned book-learning and college men: "They are filled up with Latin and philosophy, and the rest of that ninny stuff." Tesla remarked: "His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90% of the labour. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense." (Notice his twist on Edison's adage: genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration).
5. He never played, "having absolutely no recreations or hobbies, and not needing them... turning from one field of work to another." Tesla remarked he: "cared for no amusement of any kind..."
6. His efforts were purely commercial, and he sought only to pursue that which would make money, and would never "work for years on an instrument without commercial value." Thus, in many ways, he was more businessman than inventor.
7. He was obsessive in his work.

zeldona at mellowmint; minitoko; pugly pixel.
When I consider "success," there are times I think to myself that I am not asserting myself to the best of my abilities, or that I ought to change my situation to be in a position that would better enable me to develop, but then there are times I think that it is crucial for my progress as a human being to be organic in my growth. When one begins to be recognised for being good at something, it is so easy - we can see from countless examples - to begin to disregard the people around one, or to become exaggerated in one's ways.
To return yet again to my favourite Aristotle maxim, the truth is somewhere in the middle. We must be practical while being generous in our creative play.
Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only standing still, a Chinese proverb advises.

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