“Almost” should encourage one to keep trying

March 10, 2022

Two recent quotes from the Jack’s Winning Words blog this week seem appropriate to use together –

“It’s hard to measure ‘almost’ because ‘almost’ doesn’t matter.” (Rip: Yellowstone/season 1 episode 4)

“You are capable of more than you know.”  (Glinda, the Good Witch)

The word “almost” has got to rank right up there with “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” in life’s list of often used laments.

At least those who “almost” won at whatever they were doing have the satisfaction of having tried, maybe even having tried their best and just fallen short whereas those who coulda, woulda and shoulda didn’t even try.

That effort to attempt something makes “almost” actually matter. Out of most cases of “almost” often comes the resolve to keep trying. The recently concluded Winter Olympics featured television story after story of those who trained for years for the chance to compete yet didn’t win. An oft heard ending to those stories was the phrase, “I’ll be back.” In many cases, even though they did not win, the athletes achieved person bests and proved to themselves that they could compete at that level. In those case, “almost” strengthened their resolve to keep training and keep trying.

That brings us to the second quote from Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. The people who continue the pursuit of their dreams even in the face of “almost” embrace the thought that they are capable of more.

There was a story on the local news last night about a boy from Mumford High School in Detroit finally winning what he has been working toward for four years. He is a wrestler and began wrestling as a freshman because his coaches saw more in him that he saw in himself at the time. He did not make the state wrestling championships that year, but the next the year he went to the State competition and came in 8th. Last year, as a Junior, he went to States again and finished second – he almost won. He kept at it and this year was the State Champion in his weight class – the first wrestler from Mumford to ever win a state wrestling championship. He bought into the faith that his coaches initially had in him.

The lesson today is not to let the disappointment of “almost” drag you down into the morass of “coulda, woulda, shoulda”; but, rather, to use it as motivation and take Glinda’s advice to continue to strive for those things that you didn’t know you are capable of. In life that can mean going for that job that you didn’t think you could get or maybe asking that person out who you didn’t think would accept.

Wayne Gretzky famously said – You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” So, take your shots in life; especially if you almost made it last time. You are capable of more than you know. Keep trying.

Take the first step…

June 23, 2015

“You can’t ever take the next step until you take the first.”  (Deacon Jones). Of course, I saw that first on the Jack’s Winning Words blog and it’s an important piece of advice. Many people spend their lives dreaming about something or hoping to someday accomplish some specific thing, but they never take that first step. Others try to skip over taking the first step, hoping that they can jump into something in the middle somewhere – life doesn’t work like that either.
turtleMany things can keep us from talking the first step, but most of the time it’s usually fears. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt or FUD, as we called it in the business world that I was once a part of, was actually a strategic weapon that many companies used to gain advantage or to overcome a disadvantage. In life FUD often has the effect of stopping us from taking those critical first steps towards some goal. Fear of rejection prevents us from asking the girl of our dreams out. Fear of failure stops us from trying a new way of doing something; a way that may well have been the best path to success. Uncertainty makes us hesitate just long enough for the moment that we had been waiting for to pass. Doubts about our looks or our clothes or our abilities or whatever keep us from even trying. Don’t let FUD rule your life. Take the first step.

Another saying that seems to go along with today’s quote was also recently on Jack’s blog – “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” ― Gena Showalter

I suppose that never taking the first step is a way to sort of “pre-fail” instead of a way to prevail. Some people have theafraid ability to rationalize that avoiding that first step is a good thing, because then they could never fail at whatever it is that they are avoiding. Many of these do nothing people go through life telling themselves that they coulda done it if they wanted to and that they woulda done it had it not been for something that was out of their control. Later in life those same people lament that they shoulda done it when they had the chance. Don’t be a coulda, woulda, shoulda person. Take the first step.

Sometimes that first step can seem very scary; however, as I’ve written here before, I suspect that most of the things that we are afraid of as we step off are things that exist only in our imaginations. The human mind is an amazing fiction writer and, given its head (pun intended) to come up with the worst possible scenarios, it will work overtime to conjure up Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh, my! The good news is that our minds are also a great visualization machines that can show you the path to success. Most great athletes visualizationpractice visualizing their shots or their games. They see themselves being successful. They see the winning putt going in or the three-point shot to win the game hitting nothing but net. Successful business people also use visualization to imagine the perfect presentation or the customer saying yes and signing the contract. You can also use visualization to look ahead and see success in your life. But, before it can make a difference; you must take the first step.

So think about the things that are still on your “to-do” list for life (your bucket-list, if you will); the things that you really wanted or hoped to do someday; the goals that have been floating around in the back of your mind for some time. What’s stopping you? What are you afraid of? Many of the obstacles that you see ahead are real and not imagined; so, you’ll need to visualize yourself overcoming those hurdles. Practice in your mind ten times; a hundred times; as many times as it takes to “see” yourself being successful. Explore the various alternatives and pick the best path to that success for you. Be prepared to deal with setbacks and to capitalize on successes, but most important – take the first step.

Sometimes when you take that first step it will be like the first time you jumped off the high dive at the swimming pool ashigh board a kid. It scared the crap out of you and you were sure that you were going to die or at least feel a lot of pain. But afterwards, when you popped up to the pool surface and realized that you did it and you didn’t hurt yourself, you couldn’t wait to get back up there and do it again. Most things in life that you are afraid of won’t really kill you, even if you fail initially; but, you’ll never feel that exhilaration of having done it and survived until you take the first step.

Look at it this way, yesterday was Monday and you took that first step. That didn’t kill you, so now you can go on to the next step. So, have a great week ahead the journey has just begun because yesterday you took the first step.