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5,126 Prototypes

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Life is a mountain of solvable problems, and I enjoy that.”

– James Dyson

You’ve probably heard that Thomas Edison created over 1,000 different versions before finally creating the lightbulb. 

But have you heard about Sir James Dyson?

Sir James Dyson, the British inventor behind the Dyson vacuum cleaner, went through 5,126 failed prototypes over five years before arriving at the design that would transform the world of household cleaning. 

But he remained steadfast. He said,

“We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You’re on it, and you can’t get off.”

Think about the “drug” like this: failure → thrill of problem solving → solution → another failure → thrill of problem solving → solution → etc…

Where most of us don’t plug into that process is the “thrill of problem solving” — our ego is too attached to the result. We don’t see failure as an opportunity to learn about the world (exciting), but as an affront to our current perception of reality (not exciting).

If you want to do something that’s amazing and exciting, you need to enjoy problem solving after failures. And to enjoy problem solving after failures, you have to think less about yourself, and more about the puzzle


Let go of attaching your sense of worth to the success of your pursuit — enjoy the process, embrace the failures, and lean into problem solving. The result is the goal. 

This Week’s Image

This Week’s Riddle

I come from a world where there’s no light, yet I die if I’m kept in the dark. What am I?

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Reflect on a recent “failure” that unexpectedly brought a positive outcome. Doodle this event in your journal, capturing the emotions and surprises. Let it serve as a reminder that unforeseen paths can lead to better destinations.

This Week’s Challenge

Take the Dyson spirit with you this week. Dedicate an afternoon to “intentional mistakes.” Try creating a dish without a recipe, take a walk without a destination, or attempt a DIY project using only the materials you have at hand. Enjoy the process, the discoveries, and most importantly, the fun of it all. 

Riddle Answer: seed

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