“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”
This was one of the many famous quotes by William Claude Dukenfield, better known as W.C. Fields. He was an actor, comedian, writer, and even a juggler (It wasn’t just words he was throwing around).
I came across this quote in my early twenties and couldn’t help but laugh every time I read it thereafter. He sounded like he was so disgruntled with life and his failed attempts (almost like Oliver Hardy from the ‘Laurel & Hardy’ comic series. What’s more, he even looked like Hardy without a mustache) that he wanted the whole world to follow suit, should they have similar experiences. It wasn’t until much later that I finally realized that I was actually laughing at myself for a major part of a decade. I had completely missed the point of this statement. But then again I’m not new to missing things, having missed buses, trains, questions in examinations, the wife’s perspective (the consequences are very dangerous), and even a couple of gunshots I took at my former bosses (Okay, that’s an exaggeration. They were slingshots).
How many of us go about doing things in our personal and professional lives that add absolutely no value but on the contrary lead to frustration and a lack of fulfillment? We begin to doubt ourselves, fear begins to grip our souls, and our mind becomes a playhouse for the devil. And yet, we try the same study techniques that have come up short, the same marketing and sales practice that has yielded unsatisfactory results, the same diet and exercise routines that send the weighing scale readings in the undesired direction, the same exasperating approach to getting our kids to listen, and even taking selfies, with that same pout, from the very same angle, of that same mug, a million unimpressive times (How many selfies does it take to satisfy a human being? I’m really curious to know the answer to this question just in case I decide to feature in some of them).
In my opinion, our friend, Mr. Fields, by no means meant that we should give up at the first few signs of failure. But in fact, we must prioritize our goals that are truly aligned with our hearts, our passions, and our skills, to give us the best chance at succeeding and being happy. This would make us more adaptable. The fact that we don’t succeed at something after a few tries should either tell us that either our approach needs to change, or the activity needs to change.
What would happen if you kept hitting your head against a brick wall? Yup, you got it, the owner of the wall will indeed have you arrested. On a serious note, you could counter sue since the damage is likely to occur to your head and not the wall.
How often do we keep doing something because our parents or boss say it’s the right way to do it? How often do we try to convince ourselves that we will succeed one day without changing our method or mindset? How often do we blame our circumstances for our failures because we are too proud to admit that our approach is faulty, or are too scared of the unknown to try something different? Most times we are just involved in personal and professional activities that bring no joy to us and seem to be the only options out there because we haven’t cared to give our hearts the opportunity to express our true passions.
A lot of reputed coaches and mentors say that ‘we can do anything, but we can’t do everything’. Our juggling expert, Mr. Fields would have likely said that if we must juggle a few things in life, they may as well be things that we really care about, bring us joy, and offer a sense of contentment, while still addressing our responsibilities. There isn’t a point in taking on too much if we are unlikely to do justice to any of it.
A few points to consider are:
- Sit down (or bounce around if you fancy) and write down the things that truly make you happy, and how you would start incorporating them in your life.
- Prioritize everything in your life in the order of importance (Then compose a song about it and sing it yourself in the shower every day)
- Don’t let your ego prevent you from reaching your potential (See what happened to him in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2). Be humble. Humility leads to an open mind. An open mind attracts knowledge. Knowledge leads to excellence. Excellence leads to fulfillment.
- Respect the opinions and positions of people in your life, but remember you’re one of those people, and the most important one at that (This doesn’t apply to married people, and those with kids. For you the most important person is the bartender). Respect your own thoughts, believe in your passions, and learn to say ‘no’ when you must.
- Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Doing something that scares you brings you closer to a defining change in your life (Stand a bit closer to your neighbor’s Rottweiler, and perhaps even pull its tail to spice things up).
- Befriend your fear – fear of failure, fear of pain, and fear of loss. These are inevitable. No matter who you are, life will find you in a dark alley at some point and knock you down. It’s up to you to get up, look life in the eye, and say “I’ll see you again around the block, and I’ll be stronger”. Will Smith talks about his sky diving experience in which he says “The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear”. This quote really resonates with me (However, if the parachute doesn’t open, then the point of maximum danger is the point of impact).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG-F_rRVdLc (Will Smith speaks)
So let’s stop being damn fools about wasting our lives away in oblivion. Let’s find our true calling, our home field advantage where life roots for us. A setting that will earn us the joy of living.
What are you still doing here, fooling around, reading rubbish? Don’t you have some newly defined matters to work on? Get out of here!!