If At First You Don’t Succeed… Surprise. Part III


Last week while traveling, I spent some time doing what I suppose many do these days while driving…

and NO, I don’t mean TEXTING friends or READING MY KINDLE like I saw someone doing at 70 MPH recently!!!

On the contrary, I was scanning the AM radio dial for anything talk-related… well, “anything talk” that was also interesting.

So it was that I happened upon a “Success Principles” program that, in a span of several minutes, would lead callers down the path to personal power and significance…

…or at the very least, in the case, down the road to the local Cliche’ Festival.

“Get a plan, and get to work…”
“If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again…”
“Winners never quit, and quitters never win…”

When someone is struggling, when their plans are not succeeding, when their life and dreams and relationships are seriously spinning out of control, a pithy one-liner or a two-minute pep-talk is usually not the answer. No, usually there are deeper reasons for these conditions, conditions which have often been going on for a very long time.

And any good plan begins with an evaluation of the current situation. We can’t know where to start, if we don’t know where we are. And as for the “quitters never win” line, interestingly enough, quitting is often one of the first things we need to do!

“Wait… wait…. wait!!!” you say. “Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times to create the light bulb and he never quit!!!”

Uhh, yeah… let’s talk about Thomas Edison for a minute… and another smart guy named Albert Einstein.


Thomas Edison is reported to have said something along the lines that he believed that he DID NOT FAIL 10,000 times, but merely succeeded in finding that many ways NOT to do it.

In other words, he didn’t just try the same thing over and over and over again. He succeeded precisely because he quit doing what wasn’t working.

Albert Einstein who knew a thing or two about processes made similar statements about how we can’t expect to get out of a problem by using the same thinking that got us into the problem in the first place… and who can forget the classic definition of insanity which is attributed to him about ‘doing the same things, but expecting different results.”

You see, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein understood that when things aren’t working, you don’t merely plow ahead, put the pedal to the metal, and work ever harder at the same plan.

We figure out what’s working, and we innovate and improve. Likewise, we evaluate what’s not working, and we discard those ideas and activities… yes, we quit doing them.

Winners quit things that don’t work all the time… it’s a leadership quality.

And the greater the struggle, the more overwhelming the challenge, the loftier the goal… the higher the likelihood that there will be much to quit along the way… ideas and thoughts, patterns and processes, behaviors and habits… even great and wonderful activities and hobbies may need to be sidelined if we are to have the time, resources and energy to nail our primary vision.

So here’s a question or two: If you just stay the course, what are the chances of YOUR light bulb working? Would Edison and Einstein agree with your plan?


I look forward to hearing from you!


For Consideration:

Are you pursuing a long-term vision that seems evermore elusive?
If so, is it possible the vision is not as important as it once was?
Is it possible that the strategies and tactics are no longer valid?
Have you broken the vision down into quarterly, weekly and daily micro-goals?
What resources are needed to help you significantly move the dial?
What ideas or activities are getting in the way of measurable success right now?
Are you willing to quit doing them this week? Why or why not?


Photo Credit:

Marcin Wichary