Why we should all keep trying

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When you’re faced with a challenging problem or something that’s difficult to write do you give up or do you keep trying?

Rube Goldberg (1883 – 1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor best known for his zany machines that attacked simple tasks in as complicated a fashion as possible. In the American stamp pictured above, for example, you can see his “self-operating napkin.”

I was teaching a workshop this week and one of my colleagues — who was presenting at the same event — showed the crowd a video of a 7-year-old’s efforts to build a Rube Goldberg device. If you have four minutes to spare, watch this delightful youngster’s excitement at getting the device to work.

But if you don’t have time to watch it, reflect on the following: The 7-year-old predicted it would take at least 10 failures before the device succeeded. Yes, 10 failures. And the kid was thrilled to experience only three failures before it worked.

Now, ask yourself this question: How do you feel after a  failure? Depressed? Unmotivated? Exhausted? Sorry for yourself?

In fact, most of us are so afraid of failing that we try to pretend it hasn’t happened (which often creates even more problems), or we work to convince ourselves that the mistake doesn’t matter.

Here’s the secret: success always starts with failure. My favourite example of this is emblazoned in the product’s name: WD-40. The lubricant was inventor Norman Larsen’s 40th formula, and the one that finally worked.

If only we could all be as lighthearted about failure as 7-year-old Audri. Thanks to Suzanne Hoffman for sharing this video with me. Also, kudos to the mom who filmed the video. What a great way to support your child!

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