If at first you don’t succeed…Quit!

by Brad Isaac on June 10, 2006

Here’s a joke I wrote for all you network administrators out there:

If at first your 100-page printing job doesn’t succeed, send it thirty more times…

When we shoot for success there can be many stumbling blocks along the way. We will have setbacks that make us want to give up. However, giving up on a goal will not lead to the success we want. But is persisting in the same way the best way succeed? Unfortunately, no..

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” W.C. Fields

The problem with W.C. Fields advice and my joke about the printer jobs is both leave out what is needed to succeed after setbacks and failures. What I am talking about is a simple but important habit you need to develop. It will save you time. It will save you energy. And it will make you look really smart.

So what’s the secret? Simple! Measure your results and alter your approach the next time you try.

In essence, if at first you don’t succeed, quit the original approach! Then, try a different way.

The example that comes to mind is the single man who tries to meet women with pickup lines. He thinks he’s heard a great “line” and uses it with terrible results. One woman, calls him a “jerk” and walks away. Another tells a bouncer he is harassing her and the bouncer asks him to leave. He may use the same line a dozen times, each time expecting a different result. It then becomes a search for the “perfect” pick up line. The one when unleashed will lead to all the women at the bar to sit up and pay attention. He may or may not learn that pick up lines don’t work, so his approach never changes and his goal of meeting a woman he is compatible with doesn’t happen.

Mixing bleach and ammonia will always produce chlorine gas, which is deadly. Attempting to devise a “super cleaner” by trying to mix bleach and ammonia 30 times does not bring you closer to success. However, it might bring you closer to death.

And sending a failed printer job to a network printer 30 times not only prevents you from printing, it can take down printing for an entire network.

It’s one thing to make a mistake, it’s another to keep repeating the same mistake. To be successful, you must see failures as measurements. Failing at something is a result. It is a result that if measured can educate you the next time you try. Like a scientist, we can keep careful records of what does and doesn’t work. If we stop doing stuff that doesn’t work, it makes room for us to find tasks that might work. But first we have to know what doesn’t work and then pledge to stop doing it.

Quitting tasks that do not produce the result you want saves you time and energy. That is how “quitting” brings you closer to success. We only have a limited time on this earth – a limited time to succeed. Spinning our wheels with stuff that doesn’t work wastes that valuable time. It also depletes the energy we need to pursue activities that would work.

Technorati Tags: quitting, hope, success, measurable outcomes

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Gerald Rogers June 10, 2006 at 9:47 pm

Great Perspective! Thanks for helping me see things differently. I wont be so intimidated by failure now.

B. Riley June 11, 2006 at 10:30 am

The only problem is that persistance is one of my company’s core values. So make that 60 times instead of 30.

Good food for thought. . .

June 11, 2006 at 3:16 pm

depleats? Isn’t that Ironing?

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