You Only Fail When You Stop Trying to Succeed
By Liberty Forrest
Is there something you want to do? Some particular goal you have? Maybe it’s those pesky New Year’s Resolutions, a habit you want to break, for example stopping smoking. Or maybe something you want to learn to do, like learn to play the piano.
Have you tried to achieve that goal, but stumbled? Stopped smoking only to start again? And again and again and again? Then stopped stopping, gave up trying, resigned to the fact that you’re a failure?
Have you tried some sort of new business venture that didn’t go according to plan (i.e. didn’t work out at all) despite your having been absolutely certain it would be a great success?
Perhaps you haven’t even bothered to start. I love it when adults say things like, “I always wanted to play the piano” and I tell them, “So learn.” They say they’re too old. And I say, “You still have a pulse.” And then they insist that no, they just couldn’t learn anything new at this stage in their lives.
Well, I guess if they decide they can’t, then they can’t. It’s really more about “they won’t,” because they’ve decided not to even bother trying.
My mother used to shoot me down before I had even begun to try new things. Right up until she got dementia, she was still telling me, “You can’t do that!” when I’d mention something new I wanted to do or learn. Thankfully, I’d stopped believing her by then and would attempt all kinds of new things, usually succeeding. And it seemed the more I succeeded, the less happy she was about it – but that’s another article for another day…
When my children were little, it drove my mother nuts that I had confidence in them. My eldest daughter sings beautifully, and when she was 9, she was going to sing at a wedding. I wanted her to stand front and centre in the church so she could be seen and heard properly.
My daughter was quite happy with this, knew the lyrics inside out, backwards, and upside down. She was a very outgoing child, not at all nervous being in such a position. In fact, since she could speak she has always adored being the centre of attention so she was thrilled to be performing in front of an audience.
My mother insisted that she should be way over to one side, standing (virtually hiding) behind the piano where she “wouldn’t be scared” and with the lyrics there for her, just in case. There was a lot of heated discussion about this, and much of it was in front of my daughter so at least she heard that I had faith in her.
Unfortunately, I ended up caving because that was a long time ago before I knew how to stand up for myself.
As it turned out, people on one side of the church couldn’t hear or see my daughter very well – and she never did look down at the lyrics. She sang so perfectly and with such confidence; it was a beautiful thing to witness.
However, the poor girl was disappointed that she hadn’t got the opportunity to prove that she could do it – not just to my mother but to herself. She hadn’t been allowed the chance to succeed.
My mother was teaching insecurity and self-doubt, which really bothered me, but it was years before I understood that she was teaching what she knew. In her own way, she was trying to protect my daughter from failing and ending up lacking confidence, which was a major problem in my mother.
As the years passed, I could see that throughout her life, she’d felt like a failure in many ways. She projected a lot of her pain and disappointment onto the people she loved, fearing that they would end up in the same state. She wanted to do and learn and try things but because she lacked confidence, she gave up, often without even having tried.
The bottom line is that you only fail when you stop trying to succeed. So you’ve stopped smoking 286 times, only to begin again. Is that a good reason to say you’ve failed? Absolutely not. It just means you haven’t been successful at reaching your goal of becoming a non-smoker. Yet.
Whatever your goal is, as long as you keep trying to reach it, there is the chance you will succeed. If you want to be successful, stop thinking of yourself as a failure. You will only fail when you give up and refuse to try again.
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