Nikola Tesla created some of the worlds most amazing projects. Bathed in defeat, victory, and competition he managed to create the alternating current (AC) electrical system and the Tesla Coil. The AC provided electrical power to homes, offices, factories, etc. While the tesla coil was a high frequency transformer, creating high voltage at a low current. Despite his many inventions, these two provided the world with the most benefit. A normal man with a dream to light the world did so, but did not receive the Nobel Prize; instead, he obtained the Edison Medal of 1917.
His leadership is proved in the actions he took to transform the world we live in, providing everyone with a source of inspiration and knowledge to build their own legacy.
The analysis of Nikola Tesla’s life, pursuits, accomplishments, and failures in a nutshell. Nikola Tesla, inventor and engineer, discovered and patented the rotating magnetic field, the foundation of alternating current, the tesla coil, and several groundbreaking achievements.
However, despite being overshadowed by Thomas Edison (Designer of the lightbulb), continued to lead and inspire engineers throughout the 1880s, 90s, and 1900s. Leaders are not born, they are made.
Nikola Tesla was born July 10th, 1856, in a village located in a mountainous region of Western Lika in Croatia. Tesla originated from a family of Serbians consisting of an Orthodox priest father, and an uneducated mother. His parents witnessed an adolescent with imagination, creativity, and intelligence, grow into an engineer with a following from innovative geniuses to college students.
His eidetic memory provided him the ability to excel in his field; Tesla could visualize three dimensional objects and recall precise images gifting him an innovative imagination few could replicate.
Attending the Technical University at Graz Austria and the University of Prague he pursued an engineering career that would allow him to later create a way to use alternating current. This path persuaded the invention of the polyphase alternating system in generators and motors, allowing for the nationwide use of electricity to spark. He then transferred to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, where he formulated the idea of the rotating magnetic field and induction motor. “In February 1882, Tesla was walking with a friend through a city park in Budapest, Hungry – Suddenly the solution of the rotating magnetic field, he had been seeking for a long time, flashed through his mind. At this very moment he saw clearly in his mind an iron rotor spinning rapidly in a rotating magnetic field produced by the interaction of two alternating currents out of step with each other. One of the ten greatest discoveries of all times was born at this glorious moment. (Tesla Society New York)”
Visualizing his goals, he later worked in Paris, France for the Continental Edison Company in 1882 designing his first accomplishment, the induction motor. This was a low cost, reliable, and simplistic design to produce torque, which is obtained by electromagnetic induction. He worked there for around a year for Edison’s French branch of his Electric Light Corporation. Tesla’s dream was to persuade industry professionals towards his rotating magnetic field and motor, therefore he would make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to The United States of America.
New York, New York was introduced to Nikola Tesla in 1884 with the first impression of a poor and poetic gentleman. The city bonded two brilliant inventors with various backgrounds and methods; this was the first time Tesla and Thomas Edison would converse and begin the great story of a “War of Currents”. Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC) and Tesla’s alternating current (AC) are “different types of voltage or current used for the conduction and transmission of electrical energy (Earley 2013).” Electrical current, or charged particles, correlated with the flow and direction of electrons. Direct Current travels on a consistent and flat path, while powering flashlights, remotes, and cellphones. Alternating current makes a wave like pattern and gives electricity to lamps, homes, and anything connected to an outlet. DC was efficient, but overall could not reach near the population that AC could in the 1880s, establishing AC as the most dominant power source.
“The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention. (Quotes by Nikola Tesla)”
The alternating current system, created by Tesla, patented by George Westinghouse, American inventor and industrialist, was used to light the world’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. “This was the first all-electric fair in history, nicknamed the Columbian Exposition in celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Columbus discovering America.” (Tesla Life and Legacy) The press and public were impressed despite the previous demonstration of the dangers of AC (Alternating Current,) involving the first use of the electric chair in New York’s Auburn State Prison. The success during the Columbian Exposition allowed Tesla and Westinghouse to win a contract to install the first power machinery at Niagara Falls.
In 1900 Tesla started a wireless broadcasting tower on Long Island to “provide worldwide communication and to furnish facilities for sending pictures, messages, weather warning, and stock reports.” (Ghose, 2014) This project was soon abandoned due to labor and financial issues, providing Tesla with his greatest downfall. Although the disappointment of Tesla and his followers consumed the press, he obtained the Edison Medal of 1917, “the highest honor that the American Institute of Electrical Engineers could bestow.” (Ghose, 2014)
Tesla’s greatest accomplishment in the public eyes is the alternating current (AC) electric system. This is currently used and is the most predominant electrical system in use worldwide. Tesla also influenced the technology in radio, the tesla coil, an electric resonant transformer circuit. He established himself as an inspiration to inventors through his multiple accomplishments.
“Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs. (Quotes by Nikola Tesla)”
Nikola Tesla was a lonely visionary, providing the world with inspiration through his actions and intentions focused on electrical engineering. He possessed a position of power to produce effects on others, like Thomas Edison, and influence to persuade attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors. Tesla produced a large following with his impressive leaps in electrical technology and displayed an openness to experience and traits that were appreciated across the world. He obtained leadership behavior, skill, and concern for production during his impressive approach to solve alternating current and other great inventions. (Hughes, Gennett, Curphy, 2015) Tesla never stepped down when faced with opposition and rushed into the new technological era with inspired scientists to witness a man so bright, he lit up the world.
“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine. (Quotes by Nikola Tesla)”
Whilst performing what he learned from attending the Technical University at Graz Austria and the University of Prague he created a followership, “The capacity or willingness to follow a leader. An effective leader creates vision, sets direction and enables a culture in which others can thrive and work together to deliver the goals. Good followership is based on good communication and upward influencing (Hughes, Gennett, Curphy, 2015).” He communicated to the world through his inventions and steadfast approach in innovation, technological engineering, and life itself.
Some of his most impressive followers in the 21st Century are Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard, and Marc Tarpenning, the creators of Tesla Motors, who stated “Without Tesla’s vision and brilliance, our car wouldn’t be possible. We’re confident that if he were alive today, Nikola Tesla would look over our 100 percent electric car and nod his head with both understanding and approval (Davies, 2013)”. Tesla’s following is so broad it is difficult to pinpoint certain industries or persons. He influenced the approach and all knowledge of technology and electricity with several projects and inventions (Some not covered in Nikola Tesla – An Electrifying Current of Innovated Leadership): The Tesla Coil, The Magnifying Transmitter, The Tesla Turbine, The Radio, The Niagara Falls Transformer House, The Induction Motor, The Alternating Current, etc. Tesla never had any direct protege or wife to interrupt his works, only allowing followers from a distant with no direct family in the same industry.
“Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born. (Quotes by Nikola Tesla)”
Tesla was not born a leader, he was molded by his failures, accomplishments, and dreams. Dedication to his pursuits brought forth a self-fulfilling prophecy, bringing his dreams into reality. The young inventor and engineer perfected the rotating magnetic field, the alternating current, tesla coil, and many more electrical and mechanical leaps for his day and age. He portrayed expert power through the idea that his high level of knowledge in the technological industry was not to be matched by any other engineer in the 1800s. The understanding of knowledge, an ideal few and far between possessed in that era; as well as analytic intelligence, the triarchic component concerned with general problem-solving ability (Hughes, Gennett, Curphy, 2015). Tesla’s ability to distribute and formulate impossible ideals put him on a pedestal compared to those who did not possess this innovative ability, creative intelligence.
Nikola Tesla died poor and alone on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86 while residing in New York, New York. He only allowed a few people into his life, consisting of these writers: Robert Underwood Johnson, Mark Twain, and Francis Marion Crawford (Hunt, I. W. 2018). His last years on this earth were not very noble as he suffered from nervous breakdowns following the crisis and shutdown of his free energy project. His ideas become more absurd, consisting of a death beam to aid in World War II. Although his defeats and doubts hindered his final days, his inventions provide a stepping stone to all creators after him. (Nikola Tesla 2018) Tesla believed that after death there was some force of afterlife but had no distinct religion.
“Religion is simply an ideal. It is an ideal force that tends to free the human being from material bonds. I do not believe that matter and energy are interchangeable, any more than are the body and soul. There is just so much matter in the universe and it cannot be destroyed. As I see life on this planet, there is no individuality. It may sound ridiculous to say so, but I believe each person is but a wave passing through space, ever-changing from minute to minute as it travels along, finally, someday, just becoming dissolved. (Lubardić, B. 2013)”
A legacy of Tesla remains, having three movies highlighting his life and famous works, The Secret of Nikola Tesla, Nikola Tesla, The Genius Who Lit the World, and The Prestige (Nikola, 2018). In 2008 the Tesla Science Center was instituted with the intention of acquiring the Wardencllyffe property to create a museum in honor of Nikola Tesla’s works. By May of 2013 TSC (Tesla Science Center) obtained the property and are working to display Tesla’s electrical accomplishments in society. He never married or had any children in society to continue his family name, but that is the job of our forever grateful world. He truly was the purest representation of “An Electrifying Current of Innovated Leadership.”