Day #220:What Albert Einstein Can Teach Us About Handling Setbacks

Genius, Albert Einstein

After Einstein graduated from college, he spent two frustrating years looking for and failing to get a job as a teaching assistant. During this time, he had a child out-of-wedlock and a girlfriend his family disapproved of greatly. For all his efforts during this time, he was only able to secure the lowest position at the patent office, which was really attained by help from his friend’s father.

I’m sure Einstein wasn’t too thrilled about his life during that period but this setback is one of the main reasons why Einstein’s image has become synonymous with genius. His job as an assistant patent examiner gave Einstein real world training on visualizing the ideas in the patent proposals he examined and at the same time nurtured his skepticism which is inherent to deciding the feasibility of the patents being proposed and a skill necessary to challenge the accepted scientific theories of his day. Both these skills and the free time Einstein had due to the easy work load at the patent office allowed Einstein to conduct thought experiments that led to his four groundbreaking papers which included his theory of relativity and E = mc2. If Einstein had been successful in landing a teaching assistant’s position right out of college, he would not have had the time or mindset to create the foundation to modern physics that he is famous for today.

“Every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”.

-Napoleon Hill

Setbacks create opportunities … (if you don’t believe me, just look into the lives of most successful people)

… but not if you overwhelm yourself with self-pity.

The key is to focus on the positive and to be aware of opportunities created by the situation.

It really doesn’t help to ask yourself: Why me? What If I had? Why didn’t I? 

Instead it is better to ask yourself: What did I learn? What’s next? What can I do now?

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