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I Failed Again. It’s Not Worth It To Keep Trying. Or, Is It?

  Steve Scanlon     May 13, 2014

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If you haven’t felt it, you’ve likely heard it: “I tried and I failed. It’s just not worth it to keep trying!”  Whether we apply this to giving up an old bad habit, starting a new good one or going after that next relationship or sales success that could change our careers, the reality is that failure is quite certain in our lives at some point.  The question is not whether we will or won’t fail, but rather, whether we continue to go back for more.  Guess what?  Our brains don’t want us to go back for another round and we have to rewire them to approach things differently.


Two of my favorite quotes that have accompanied me on my life journey through varied trials:

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.  Don’t be a damn fool about it.  W.C. Fields
  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.  Thomas A. Edison

Most of us are familiar with the first half of Fields’ quote.  But the second half has often been the part that kicked me into gear.  And it would start this monologue in my head that went something like,

 

"Seriously Carrie, how is sitting behind your email and busying yourself with planning going to bring you your next client?  It’s not!  Don’t be a fool.  So your ego got bruised.  You lost.  Yep, I know you hate to hear that, but you lost.  Oh well.  You aren’t going to win again if you don’t get back out there and take another swing at it. “

 

People tend to believe that those who succeed are simply immune to those challenging, absolutely cruddy days or those negative thoughts.  We assume that they either don’t fail or failure just doesn’t bother them.  100% untrue.  However, I will tell you that they have trained their minds to approach it differently and to not hang out with the negativity that can accompany failure for too long.  And so I'd like to offer a couple insights into how the mind approaches failure that can help us to try again - but without just repeating the same old patterns.

 

Firstly, understand that we’re all wired to avoid the pain of failure.  Our brains would love for us to just continue on with what is familiar and not step out and risk our safety.   Others will call it comfort zone; I’m going to call it your familiarity zone.  Your mind would love for you to stay there.

 

Secondly, we’re all wired for that which is habitual.  If your habit isn’t to pick up the phone and call new prospects daily or meet new people face-to-face twice a week, your brain will fight against this until a new habit is created and worn.   Whether you are familiar with making those calls or meeting new people is irrelevant if it’s not yet an established habit.

 

You see, it’s not that successful people don’t fail or are immune to the feelings associated with failing; it’s that they’ve trained their brains differently.  Mindset coaches are often called in to help look at failing differently. Their familiar patterns and habits are different and to them, not trying again would run contrary to what their brain desires them to do.

 

What’s next for you?  Start establishing a new pattern!  If you need to give up an old bad habit, start a new good one today.   Trip up your brain’s need for familiarity and just one more time – get up, dust yourself off, and focus on establishing a new approach to failing!  After all, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. “ - Thomas A. Edison

 

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Steve Scanlon

Written by Steve Scanlon

Steve Scanlon is the Founder and CEO of Rewire. He loves to see people change the way they think and enter new seasons of growth for their work. If you have a couple of hours, ask him about his new golf swing.

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