The events of December 9, 1914, exemplify Thomas Alva Edison's undefeatable spirit. On that evening, the well-known Edison Industries was destroyed by fire. The total loss in that disaster exceeded $2 million, along with Edison's life's work. He was insured for only $238 because the buildings were constructed of concrete, at that time thought to be fireproof. At sixty-seven years old, Edison watched his life go up in flames.
Edison stood in the winter wind as firefighters tried to control the fiery blaze. The thoughts that permeated his mind that evening must have been confused and ringing with disappointment.
The next morning, Edison surveyed his charred dreams and crushed hopes. As he stood amid the disaster, Edison was quoted as saying, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew."
Edison sincerely believed that. Three weeks after the fire, Edison Industries delivered the first phonograph. That is the result of a leader who had incredible vision, was capable of sustaining enthusiasm, and undoubtedly possessed a great deal of flexibility.
Edison's positive, consistent example inspired others.