August 27 ~  Practice Shots Inventors: Library of Congress Book

"An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots." ~ Charles F. Kettering

Charles Kettering

Someone who treated failure as merely practice shots, Charles Franklin Kettering (1876-1958) invented the first electrical ignition system, self-starter for automobile engines, and practical engine-driven generator.

"A man must have a certain amount of intelligent ignorance to get anywhere with progressive things," he once said.

Born in an Ohio farmhouse, Kettering graduated from Ohio State University in 1904 with an Engineering degree. He joined the National Cash Register Company, where he developed the electrically-operated cash register, an invention that would lead to the revolutionary self-starter which was small enough to fit under the hood of a car.

Henry Leland, head of Cadillac Motors, called Kettering "an absolutely unknown electrical genius."

"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail," Kettering advised.

With over 200 patents, which included the spark plug, refrigerator freon, safety glasses, and leaded gasoline, Kettering said about new ideas, "There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier."

Along with General Motors President Alfred Sloan, Kettering also established the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, dedicated to understanding of the biology and management of cancer. "A problem well stated is a problem half solved," Kettering said.

More Kettering Quotations

Technical InnovationThere is no failure, just practice shots.