It doesn’t matter if you succeed, just as long as you try

standard March 27, 2009 4 responses

Know what I hate hearing the most from C? (Well, apart from the fact that every single sentence she ever directs at me has to start with “Hey? Mommy?” I’m sitting right here kid, I haven’t moved in the last 20 minutes. I haven’t stopped listening to you, like, ever. You don’t need to constantly check that I’m there. K? Thanks.)

I hate it when she whines that she can’t do something without even trying. It drives me crazy.

I’m a big believer in the value of failing at something. You try, you fail, you learn, you try again, and sometimes you succeed. So whenever she rushes at me begging me to turn her underwear inside out, open a marker, turn on the light, or do some other little task that I know full well she could do herself if she just tried, I either turn a deaf ear or remind her of our little mantra.

“What does mommy always say?”
“I dunno.”
“I say ‘Getting it right isn’t what’s important.’ right?”
“Right.”
“So, what’s important?”
“Trying!”

She beams as she replies, then, more often than not, she actually tries to do what she’d been whining about. She manages to turn her underwear inside out, she pulls hard and opens the marker, and she finds her step stool and turns the light on all by herself. She’s always excited when she succeeds. They’re small victories, but they’re her victories, and that makes them extra exciting, both for her and for me.

I think I need to take a page from my mommy book and apply it to my freelancer book. I realized today that I spend way too much time thinking “I can’t” when I should really be thinking “All I have to do is try.”

From now on I’m adding “You don’t have to succeed, you just have to try” to my existing list of mantras – “Drafts are supposed to suck” and “We’re doing this bird by bird*” I want to share the pride that C feels when she discovers she can do something on her own.

*Bird by Bird is 100% credited to Anne Lamott, it’s her poetic way of saying one step at a time.

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4 responses

  • Jess, this is the most fantastic reminder to do the *thing* regardless of whether or not you’ll succeed.

    I’m petrified of failure, it’s there with everything and it takes and enormous amount of remembering to just keep on going. But now I can simply remember to try rather than succeed. Takes an enormous amount of pressure off.

    Thank you.

  • I struggle with this sometimes. When I’m tired and the whining is grating on my last nerve, I have to remember that I’m only making the problem worse if I don’t let him handle it on his own. Even when I’m on my game, I want to be “Mommy to the rescue,” and fulfill his every need. I need to remind myself that these little lessons learned now are crucial to him developing into a good man. Let him try. If he fails, he can try again. Eventually, he’ll get it. Great post!

  • Excellent, excellent advice and precisely what I needed to read. Funny how I can encourage my kiddo to keep trying to walk no matter how many times he smacks his head on the way down, yet I drag my feet over something that won’t even cause me an ounce of physical pain if I don’t succeed. Excellent. Thank you.

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