trying Ask Dr G
Written by Doctor G

different kinds of “trying”


If you’ve been hanging out in these posts with me for a while, you might remember last year when we talked about perseverance and the dreadful ways we have of (not really) teaching it to people.

Quick recap: We don’t really teach perseverance at all. We tell people who are struggling about other people who DID persevere and accomplished something great after lots of failures. Kind of like taking a kid who wants to ice skate and just showing them posters (not even videos) of famous ice skaters. Inspirational? Maybe. Effective? Nope. Put a pair of skates on that kid and they’re still going to end up flat on the ice.

Examples aren’t really enough. We need structure. I dive into it deeper in my book, but the sum up is this: Perseverance means trying again and changing something from last time. 

As I was working through this with some clients, we discussed the two very different situations in which we need perseverance.

Situation 1 (and the one that gets all the inspirational posters): Keep going until you finally succeed for the first time! Push through failure after failure, and that first time you sell the product or make the basket or finish your first book or have a baby or… you’ll see why all the failure was worth it. Spoiler alert – that is usually true. Especially if the goal you’re working so hard to reach still aligns with your own purpose and goals (resilience, right?).

Situation 2 (and this one is way more common and often ignored): Do something you know how to do but want to improve.

That’s right, the “you’ve had that first rush of success but you need to get better at it” perseverance is, for most people, much harder than trying again until we get something the first time.

Improving your sales ratio or making more free throws or writing the second (or seventh) book takes repetition. Drills. Boredom. How do you keep your focus and your motivation to do this? Two steps:

  • Check your Why. Make sure your goal – what you’re working towards – still aligns with your purpose
  • Find a way to make it fun: Challenge or reward yourself, partner with someone, tie the repetition to something you really enjoy doing

Repetition-type perseverance is worthwhile, but it can be a real drag. No point in having a bad time!

Which type of perseverance are you using right now? Or wish you were? Comment and tell me!

All my best,

Dr. G 

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