IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED ...
Dee Chadwick
23 May 2021
Try, try, try again. This piece follows on from last week’s blog about target setting in order to track progress and provide motivation to continue as you are, or to maybe to go up a gear or two in order to succeed. If the task is proving to be more than anticipated, boring, whatever, you may need some self-talk to persuade you to keep on track.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

There will be times that you reach the point of having to make some decisions. Decisions  about those gear changes, or possibly about whether to continue on the same pathway heading to the same goal or to call it a day. A time for weighing up the pros and cons of those decisions and the implications of continuation or cessation of the task. You may decide that, on reflection, you have expended more than enough time, energy, money on a task which really is going nowhere, proving beyond your current skill set, wasting your time – whatever. However, just as some issues are worth standing up and fighting for, and no matter how tempted you may feel you may instead decide to throw some more punches in the direction of the task that is currently proving difficult. You may not have succeeded so far, you may feel stretched and unsure about your abilities, but have come down on the side of keeping on keeping on with the try, try, try again mindset.

The saying is said to have originated in an 1840’s book - “Teacher’s Manual” written by Thomas H. Palmer, with its original point being to encourage children to do their homework. The full quote is “Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”. Its use has, over the years, gone far beyond this homework scenario!

JACK

Apart from the occupants of the nesting boxes and the nests in the shrubs, trees and under my eaves, I have another feathered resident in my garden at present. A jackdaw, rather unimaginatively christened Jack.  I saw him initially a couple of months ago, trailing a wing with the leading edge feathers, and probably the associated bone structure damaged. I initially made attempts to capture him to take him I am not sure where. This obviously upset him and was also fruitless task as, even though injured he could build up quite a good ground speed.  So, I set about feeding him. Those feathers dropped off, making movement around more easy though flying is not a possibility. When I come down in the morning, he takes up his post awaiting breakfast service, as in the photograph.

 Yesterday morning, I watched him from my bedroom window negotiating his descent from one of the trees he adeptly if rather ungainly navigates his way through. He reached a four tiered shelving unit that I had moved to its new location last night, so possibly his first attempt at navigating this. Not easy as the shelves are directly above one another. He went to one end and managed to use a branch to help his descent to the next level down. Then he was stuck. He looked around, went back up via the branch and moved along the top layer. He repeated similar steps, including back tracking as he tried, tried and tried again to reach the ground and take up his place at the breakfast queue. This injured bird taught me a lesson, or rather reminded me of the importance of tenacity; of perseverance no matter who or what you are; no matter what your abilities; no matter how far removed you are from your ‘normal’ way of being.

WHAT OF THOSE TRIES?

Certainly it was a saying I too used in education, but aimed at me rather than at my pupils. If a child was having difficulty grasping something, then I would try to develop their understanding by using different approaches until I found one that met their individual requirements. Yes, there were a few occasions when I asked them to try again with a piece of work if it was below the standard of their usual work, but only after a chat about why I was asking them to do this.

I went on to work with children who had special educational needs. I remember working with one young lady who had been diagnosed with EDA – Extreme Demand Avoidance. She did just what it said on her particular ‘label’. If you asked her to do something, she would do anything within her power to NOT do it. She refused to eat a meal put down at the table, so food was left prepared in the fridge and she would happily steal it from there. Care had to be taken that any raw meats or unsuitable foods were kept in a separate, locked fridge. She was away from school for a few days. It turned out that she had been ill as she had eaten a dead, mouldy mole she had found in the garden – she saw it as being acceptable to eat, though I cannot imagine what it had tasted like!

As for learning or tasks in school, she would either turn the task back on to me, fill the time with endless why’s and assorted other unrelated questions or simply say ‘no’. I tried and tried with different approaches, and eventually I did manage to succeed. I took a couple of hand puppets in with me and she actually responded positively to my instructions, questions, tasks if given via my puppet. Her response being given by her, very much too large for her small hand, puppet.

WHAT OF THOSE WHO DIDN’T GIVE UP AT THEIR FIRST ATTEMPT

For many seeking employment the phrase will probably ring so very true. Those actors attending untold numbers of auditions; those seeking employment filling in endless application forms and attending numerous job interviews before actually getting the role, the job that was right for them.

Then there are those whose persistence sets shining examples of turning initial failure into success, when they could have easily thrown in the towel. Lifehack.org tells of fifteen such success stories. These include:-

Sir James Dyson who certainly didn’t give up after the failure of his first attempt to develop a bagless vacuum cleaner. As for that first attempt ‘Multiple that by 5,126 because that’s the number of failed prototypes Sir James Dyson went through over the course of 15 years before creating the eponymous best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner that led to a net worth of $4.5billion.’

Steven Spielberg whose ‘cinematic output has grossed more than $9 billion and brought him three Academy Awards, but the master of the blockbuster was rejected TWICE by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. As their way of saying “Oops, I guess we were wrong about you” the school built a building in honor of Spielberg.’

I cannot give such a list without including Albert Einstein whose ‘name is synonymous with intelligence yet it wasn’t always that way for Albert Einstein. As a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped. He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics. I guess he was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years…’

WHAT PERSONAL QUALITIES MAY THEY POSSESS?

Along with those of us who have also not fallen at one of the first fences, they must have a great deal of determination. A determination to keep going with their mission, assuring themselves that it certainly isn’t mission impossible! A determination not to allow their knock backs make them feel that they are not worthy of succeeding. For many others, picking themselves up, dusting themselves off can only be repeated a limited number of times before their self-confidence and self-esteem become dented, but in order to achieve that success, you really can’t have a fear of failure. Rather, a positive spin is put on the perceived failure. A spin turning it to an understanding of a need to find a different route, one more tick of things tried, not to be repeated. They learn from mistakes and certainly don’t have the inflexibility to keep trying and trying the same thing. As, if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same result. Instead they rely on their self-belief that they will win through, that they can (and will) do it.

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