Updated: Feb 11, 2022
It’s no secret that I covet perfection and struggle to remind myself that such a thing does not exist.
So I look back over my life for the signs and messages that may have pushed me along the path of pursuing the unattainable prize of perfection.
I find encouragement in sayings like, “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.”
This acknowledges that I will fall along the way. Multiple times.
But what about this one: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
I’ve heard it all my life but never really studied the messaging or impact.
“If at first you don’t succeed.”
Who succeeds on their first try?
The implication is that IF you don’t nail it the first time, then give it another go. But of course, you’re not going to nail it the first time. You can’t know what you don’t know until you actually engage in a task. Then you find the holes in your logic and can do better next time.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do a decent job “at first”. It doesn’t mean you are doomed to fail every first attempt. But there is always a learning curve.
I think I have been misled by the wording of this quote.
The saying should go:
If at first you don’t succeed … Duh. People rarely do.
If at first you don’t succeed, welcome to being human.
If at first you don’t succeed, what fool told you that you should?
If at first you don’t succeed, you have not failed anyone’s expectations.
I’d even go for: When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
What it REALLY should be is: If at first you DO succeed, don’t trust it. Try again.