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March 22nd, 2019
When a shot in the dark doesn’t pan out with a bulls‘eye, it’s easy to say “I have no luck.” Or even worse statements that degrade our sense of ability or possibility to improve in some way.
Every action that we take is at most an estimated guess of execution. There are factors of randomness that we cannot even label that intercede in all sorts of ways. A problem that can help be a solution if highlighted is that we do not recognize the smaller slips of ability to be in the same category as big misses. For example: typos. We all make typos, whether texting or typing with all ten fingers, our ability to get the right letter down every time is remarkably low. But it’s of little matter. We think almost nothing of it and hit the delete key and rectify the situation with the correct key. It’s only when we make a similar mistake several times in quick succession when we actually notice what’s going on and perhaps sigh with aggravation and double down our concentration in order to keep from wasting so much time doing the wrong thing.
Few of us really remember learning to type, or better yet, learning to read. The first few stabs at this process were bound to be pathetic at best – more of an endurance test with regards to frustration rather than a test of actual or desired ability. But we are so quick to forget such perpetual challenge and quicker still to forget the fact that we are near-constantly making mistakes with the abilities that we have the most practice in.
Mere walking is another example: how few days pass us by with out a trip, a stumble, a quickly-saved fall?
We all have these missteps – both literal and figurative – to inform us with a gentler, less ruthless view of our chances of success, and yet when we try something new and fail at first, how quickly we throw the whole endeavor out the window, claiming no luck and no ability.
Rectifying this cognitive dissonance can go a long way to aiding our chances and our efforts when it comes to new frontiers.
Imagine, for a moment, starting some new venture and getting slapped with some brand of failure. Imagine reacting to such development in the same way we react to making a typo. Without second thought, taking a few steps back and then retaking those new steps forward with clearer intention. With no big emotional upheaval, no depression-delay, only a sort of mechanical retry.
We can close our eyes for a moment and fast-forward to the end of our life and sum up its different parts, like some kind of tally at the end of a game and ask: how much time was spent being aggravated, frustrated and dejected over some first or second effort? Hours and days and weeks and perhaps months and even years sum up before our eyes.
Was the time well spent?
We can imagine another tally just below, recording how much time and effort it took for our very next attempt to result in some breakthrough.
How embarrassing would it be to see that number amount to far less and realize just how much time was wasted agonizing over nearly nothing. It was agonizing for frustration’s sake.
We can Pause to think about emotions – especially the negative ones – as Divas: always wanting to get back in the lime light, always hogging the time once they have the light.
Instead we can refocus on the present and take thoughtful heed of the ubiquitous and relatively harmless nature of failure and gladly welcome such phenomenon when it appears again during our next endeavor.
At the very least, failure signals that we have started.
The trick is only to continue. Lessons abound in failure if we do not let ourselves get wrapped up in the emotional minutiae of our own heads. By listening closely to those details of reality that signal some failure, we can be a little more thoughtful with the next chance we take.
In fact, if we act with more information, than our effort becomes less of a chance and more of a thoughtful action. Naturally there is always some large slice of chance when we try anything, as we can see when we simply try to type a word and fail to do so, but the mere fact that we can slowly shift the balance and have more thoughtful actions land effectively over time rather than not is a powerful fact that can be tread, axel and engine for our motivation. If this weren’t true than none of us would be anywhere. This post would have amounted to little less than a pile of incoherence and no one would be equipped with the ability to understand what actually did come about here.
Each letter of each word, like each thing we say and each action we take in life, was an instant of taking a thoughtful stab at chance and seeing it work out. As a matter of fact there turned out to be dozens of typos during the writing of this post, but such failure never warrants giving up. We need only take a few steps back, pivot a little and continue on.