posted on Thursday, November 21, 2019
When attempting a new task, how many times do we fail before deciding to give up? What is an appropriate number of trials before we accept failure?
In these times of quick fixes, instant success, and the pursuit of perfection, are we making it difficult to maintain values like stick-to-ative-ness or perseverance?
When working with young people, it is sometimes frustrating to see how some will try a new skill 1 or 2 times and decide that they’re no good at it. They say things like “I can’t do it,” or “This is boring.” It’s not so much a matter of not being able to deal with failure, it’s a resistance to keep on trying. Sure, there will be things that do not interest us. There will be some skills that we will never master. In order to discover what we are really capable of, we must give it a fair shot.
This is why I ask young people to remember when you were little. Think about the following. How many times did we fall on our diaper before we could stand? One study revealed that 12 to 19-month-olds learning to walk fell an average of 17 times per hour. We surely must have failed thousands of times before we mastered these skills. We have all observed toddlers fall, only to get right back up without any frustration and continue to improve. As we mature, what happens to that type of perseverance we all had when we were little? If we gave up so easily, then we would never learn to stand or walk. It seems drill, practice, and perseverance were provided by nature when were little.
I like to believe we all still have that inside of us somewhere. We just need to continue to embrace the positive attitude we had when we were little. Think about how many times we have fallen while mastering skills like standing and walking. Now we can automatically go from place to place with little thought or effort.
"The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand."
Psalm 37: 23-24
Try not to be too quick to concede failure when attempting new skills. What could we accomplish today if we apply the positive attitude and persistence we displayed when we were little?