If trying harder doesn’t work…

  • By B. Lynn Goodwin.

    “You don’t lose until you quit trying,” my boyfriend, Richard, keeps telling me. It sounds too easy. It seems too simple. The more I see him put it into action, though, the more his words make sense.

    The first time I heard his claim, I said, “You’d better check with Hillary Clinton. Remember how badly she’d wanted the Democratic nomination in 2008?”

    “She didn’t quit trying,” he said. “Instead, she became Secretary of State.”

    I hadn’t thought of it that way, but he gave me a new perspective. I figured that Hillary Clinton’s defeat was a prime example of giving a cause your all and losing despite it. I’d never thought about what she gained or how she might have a more far-reaching influence as Secretary of State than she would have as President. Richard’s glass is always half full.

    Photo by razorfrog (flickr)

    He reminds me of Kathie, an educator I worked with in an adult literacy program ten years ago. She was doing an intake with a dyslexic woman named Marty who’d sat in the back of every class and hid behind a book or retied her shoelaces whenever the teacher looked at her. Over and over, Marty said, “This time I’ll try harder.”

    Kathie knew that trying harder wouldn’t solve anything. Marty processed print differently from most people. She needed different tools for decoding words, and they hadn’t existed when she was in school. Once she learned some new tools, her efforts began paying off.

    “Why don’t you try differently?” Kathie suggested during her intake.

    Marty’s face lit up. “Can you teach me how to do that?”

    Have you ever let go of a job, a relationship, or a promise? Why? If it’s because you weren’t getting the results you wanted, consider adopting both Richard’s and Kathie’s approach to life:

    • You don’t lose until you quit trying.  ~~Richard
    • Don’t try harder. Try differently.  ~~Kathie

    Richard often helps people who need food, a job, or a place to live. Rather than telling them, “You don’t lose until you quit trying,” he shows them. Like Kathie, he demonstrates that rewards come from “trying differently.” If the first, second, or third solution he suggests doesn’t work, he doesn’t stop.

    He firmly believes you don’t lose until you quit trying. Since he doesn’t quit trying, he’s a winner, and since I’m his girlfriend, I’m a winner too. He’s taught me to laugh and love and we are reframing each other’s worlds.

    How do you feel about losing, trying, and trying differently? I’d love to hear your responses. 

    Photo Credit: Max Elman

    B. Lynn Goodwin

    B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care; Thickjam.com, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun. A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network and InspireMeToday. She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir. She’s the owner and editor of Writer Advice. Writer Advice recently celebrated its 16th year and runs contests for aspiring and published writers as well as sharing useful tips from experienced writers.

    For more information, please visit writeradvice.com.

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    1. Kathy Harkins
      Kathy Harkins says:

      Lynn – I love your article! Your openess and appreciation to different perspectives was written with a sense of discovery.

      Richard offers such a great way to look at things. Often change doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us. Silver linings can be found in most disappointments. For Kathie’s words: •Don’t try harder. Try differently. I have used the example of the Chinese Finger Trap toy, to illustrate her example. The harder you try to pull apart your fingers -the more trapped they become. It is when you stop pulling and push in (a new way) that you become free.

      Thank you for your delightful article!

      Reply
    2. B. Lynn Goodwin
      B. Lynn Goodwin says:

      Thank you, Kathy. I love your illustration–the Chinese Finger Trap toy. I’m often reminded that the harder we try, the more improbable something becomes. I’m lucky life treats me so well.

      BTW, I agree about Richard. His glass is always half full. =)

      Lynn

      Reply
    3. Ann
      Ann says:

      Hi Lynn, I love your post, especially this two quotes that you have – You don’t lose until you quit trying by Richard and Don’t try harder. Try differently by Katie – This indicates we need to be optimistic at all times. Don’t lose hope, never quit, keep on trying!

      Reply

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