I was working at our local high school a few weeks ago. I was on Cafeteria duty when I saw a note handwritten on a blackboard in the corner of the room. The note was scrawled in chalk and the first line said,
“I never fail”
I thought that was a curious statement. How was that possible? so I read the second line:
“I either. . .”
I either what?
The third line had the answer:
“Win or Learn“
That statement opened a whole new paradigm for me. I don’t ever have to look at anything I do ever again as a fail. I never again have to see myself as a failure. If I win and get what I want, of course, I win. However, if the results are not exactly what I was looking for, I still win if I learned something in the process.
As I look back in history, I learned that this idea of never failing didn’t originate from that chalk written note on that blackboard. I had heard it all before. It just hadn’t yet resonated with me.
It’s a Lesson from Edison
Back when Thomas A Edison was trying to perfect the incandescent lightbulb. He said, “Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.”
He later wrote of the incandescent light bulb. “The electric light has caused me the greatest amount of study and has required the most elaborate experiments. I was never myself discouraged or inclined to be hopeless of success. I cannot say the same for all my associates.”
Edison was considered a genius partly because he didn’t quit. It wasn’t that he didn’t make mistakes or that things worked out every time he tried it, it was that he learned from what he had done in the past.
Applying the Principle Using My Own Example
I can apply this principle to book sales by saying this: “I have not failed at selling 1000 books per month. I have simply learned that the ways that I am trying to sell books is insufficient to get the results that I want. “
Another example is I have been selling my books on Amazon and at Farmer’s Market and have had limited success because I don’t have much of an audience. Therefore, I need to reach out to other areas. Maybe more and better-planned tweets. More and better Facebook posts, maybe get more reliable on Instagram, and maybe open a TicToc account and utilize those sites more. Maybe I need a YouTube channel. Maybe I need to get my books in more live locations. Maybe I need to connect with more influencers. As you can see, I have not experimented with every way possible to promote my books therefore, I really can’t say that I have failed. I simply have not found the right avenue(s) to sell my books yet. If I spend an hour or so every day working on book promotion and experimentation with different modalities, I will find a way to sell that many books per month.
The same goes for any goal that I want to achieve. I will never fail.
You’re not Failing if You Decide You Don’t Want to Do What It Takes
I have had times when I decided that what I was doing was not worth it to me and I don’t feel as though I failed. I just learned that what I was doing was not what I wanted to do.
I can’t tell you how many times I have started doing something that I later decided was not what I wanted to do. Probably the biggest example I can use occurred after I was trained as a nurse. I did well in school. I was in the top 10% of my class, but when it came to doing the job of nursing. I hated it and I never was a very good nurse. I went to work every day scared that I would cause someone’s death. My health suffered. My heart rate was continuously above 100 beats per minute. Not to go into details, but one day I self-sabotaged and got fired. I was relieved. I had learned that I needed to do something else so I changed course and went to college and got my bachelor’s degree and am now teaching and writing books which I love to do.
Sometimes winning is learning to quit something you hate.
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