Quality Blog

Jim's Gems: Make Good from Bad

December 9, 2013

Have you ever asked yourself why some people never seem to be having a bad day and you’re struggling to just survive the day as you go from one bad situation to another? It is likely the other person has learned to make good from bad because no one is immune from negative events.


Making good from bad isn’t something that most people find automatically but it can be learned.  It is a great gift to be able to find the good in bad situations, and it is a gift you can give yourself, if you choose.


A lot of people, when encountering a stumbling block or an obstacle, become discouraged and quit. However, highly successful people know how to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.


As an example, Thomas A. Edison's laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey were almost entirely destroyed by fire. This particular evening in December 1914 spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames.   


With damages exceeding two million dollars, all of Edison’s assets were destroyed. The buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were thought made of concrete and to be fireproof. Most of his life’s work was destroyed but his spirit was not. 


The next morning, as he walked around the charred embers of so many of his hopes and dreams, the sixty-seven year old Edison said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew."  Three weeks later he was still able to deliver the phonograph to the world!


The ability to see the benefits in bad situations will stand you in good stead in every type of endeavor, personal or professional. Sometimes, this is a difficult thing to do. Sometimes, it can take quite a while to manage - but it is manageable.


We are not saying you should pretend things are wonderful when, in fact, they are bad.  However, if you can accept pain and disappointment as a part of life, if you can see it for what it is and then move past it, if you can look disaster in the face and call it what it is - and then find a blessing in it - you'll be making the best of bad times.


The answer is to say and do something positive.  Edison didn’t let the fire destroy him but saw the devastating fire as an opportunity to start anew.  Certainly we can do the same even though it might be on a different scale.


Think about it.

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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