Two Per Cent Of Genius - Ninety Eight Of Hard Work
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
MR. EDISON was once asked to give a definition of genius, and answered, " Two per cent is genius and ninety-eight per cent is hard work." When some one remarked to him that genius was inspiration; he said, " The inspiration of genius is perspiration." The answer was not a correct definition of genius, for he evidently placed too low an estimate upon the value of native endowment, and yet it emphasized his estimate of the necessity of application for success in any life-work. He had more than two per cent of genius himself, but is was unquestionably his enormous amount of labor which made his genius fruitful. On being asked his age, he said he was over a hundred ; that, while there were supposed to be but eight working hours each day, he had worked nineteen hours out of the twenty-four, for twenty-five years in succession. He has an idea that sleep is largely a matter of habit, and that people could get along with one-half the number of hours the average person devotes to sleep. In this opinion he is mistaken. One reason why he has this idea is that the tides of life in him run very strong, some of his ancestors, not very far remote, having lived to be over a hundred years of age. There is perhaps, no public man of our time who has been so intense and constant a toiler as Mr. Edison has been. Hereditary traits have much to do in determining the height to which a person can arise in this world. Wings are important things, as well as ladders in getting above the herd, but it takes an immense amount of energy to work the wings. Many of the gaps that indicate life's inequalities can be closed up by hard work. Men of ordinary ability, by working hard enough on the ladders have climbed to the top of very tail spires.
There is no place where hard work tells to greater advantage than in the divine life, where every person is supposed to have a reasonable amount of ability and grace for working purposes and where happiness and usefulness depend so much upon spiritual industry .