If at First You Don’t Succeed…

“Try, try again.”

Mobius strip
Try, try again

This is one of the earliest of the homilies I learned as a child. Even then I didn’t like it very much because I prefer to succeed on the first try.

Fast-forward to today: I still do.

Try, try again, get back up on the horse, give it another shot—no matter how sweetly you say it, I’m still inclined to judge the endeavor in question to be a failure.

Lately, however, I’ve been trying to reframe this attitude of mine into something a little more positive—perhaps judging myself by a different set of rules. For example, I might decide to give myself credit for starting a task or for prioritizing it instead of allowing it to jump automatically to the top of my To Do list. Or maybe I’ll give myself extra credit bonus points when I work—even just a little bit—on a task that’s been too long on that To Do list.

All of these are ways to encourage better results, and all of them feel better to me than simply “try, try again.”

When I worked managing writers and projects many years ago, I was always very careful to ensure that the folks I managed had a clear path to where I needed them to be. If they had trouble finding that path, then it was part of my job to help. It was a WIN-WIN-WIN situation for the employee, for the company, and for me. I think I need to remember that—even when (or maybe especially when) the person I’m managing is me.

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