There comes a point in our life when we are tied into a routine and things just keep going around in circles. This particular message is dedicated to those that are stuck, the ones who feel they can’t do anything, the ones who feel they are just doing the same things over and over again.
With this, I’m sharing some great advice I got from Francis Kong’s Business Matters, a program I listen to every weekday. I usually get inspiration from him every morning.
Let me test you if you still remember this popular saying. Complete the phrase: “If at first you don’t succeed………..” Most people get it. They will say “Try and try again.”
This phrase and its source is different.
As far back as the 18th century, William Edward Hickson or commonly known as W.E. Hickson was the editor and proprietor of “The Westminster Review.” In it Mr. Hickson popularized the proverb:
‘Tis a lesson you should heed; Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed; Try, try, try again.
This proverb that most people either heard from their parents or their teachers speak about perseverance, tenacity, the refusal to quit or surrender. And it teaches a good lesson parents need to impart to their children.
It has been said however that the young generation today (the millenials) are swamped with so many options and opportunities. Their chant today is: “If at first you don’t succeed, try something else.” Now I belong to the older generation and that is years apart from the millenials. “Try and try until you succeed “ is considered a virtue.
You have a dream. You have aspirations. You work hard, you go through the discipline of process and you try and try again and learn from every failure or error you experience. Now this is a virtue.
But I would like to take a different course as far as doing work is concerned.
Here I am working on something and it does not work. I’ve tried it again and it still does not work. My suggestion is the next time before I try and try again I might as well stop for a while a figure out why things do not work.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says it beautifully. “If you keep on doing what you’re doing then you will keep on getting what you are getting….” Another quote credited to Albert Einstein is “There is a word for doing the same thing over and over and then expecting a different result and that word is called “Insanity.” Computers have taught me this lesson. When I press on a key and it does not work no matter how hard or how frequent I press on the key I still could not make it work.
This applies to creative ideas. I sit down on my desk and want to bang on the keyboards because I need to do my column and the ideas do not come. Trying harder will not squeeze ideas from my brains.
Nothing flows out and there is the temptation to try harder. But now that I am on my 18th book trust me. Every time I try harder, it only gets worse.
Your thoughts speak out to you. “Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Outliers?’ He says that people who reached the level of mastery Like Yoyo Ma for Cello and Yittzak Perlman for violin are those who have had at least 10,000 hours of work and practice. And so the urge is to try harder.
Here is what I have discovered. Rather than working harder I purposely break away from the situation at hand and engage myself into something mindless. Take a shower. Do some exercise. Fire up those endorphin or play a PlayStation game. And then I add variety to these activities. Other times I take a walk, do some doodling, take deep breadths and after a while of disengaging from my work, I re-engage it and the ideas began to flow.
This is why sufficient sleep and rest is essential for doing creative and excellent work. And while achievers and leaders persevere and understand the urgency of time but there are moments when just play trying harder and working harder would not get the job done.
Creative ideas usually appear when we are at a relaxed state. And meanwhile we read books, attend seminars ask questions and become curators of ideas and file them in a good place because someday they might come in handy.
If at first you do not succeed, figure out first why and then do something different. You just might surprise yourself.
An excerpt directly lifted from Francis Kong’s Business Matters.
If you are reading this Francis Kong, thank you!
To those who are stuck, ask yourself, if you want change in your life, what exactly are you doing differently to make those changes? If you want a new career, why not actually apply? If you want to earn more money, why not actually search for other opportunities? If you want something, you have to actually do something. If you won’t, no one will. You have to do it now. If not now, when?
Break away from your routine. Step back. Assess what’s happening and where you are. Learn. Read. Travel. Pray. Reflect. Draw. Do something different. Do something that excites you. Do what makes you great. Do things that you are good at. Do something that brings you closer to what you really want to do.
One day, you will be surprised. These small changes you have done actually create a greater impact in and for the future. Maybe, that small dent and digression in your routine just actually changes everything.