What 10,000 Light Bulbs Can Teach Us About Motivation, Failure and Success
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time” – Thomas Edison
According to a report I read today women will start 16 diets in their lifetime, showing that they have been on twice as many diets as they have been on lovers. Another report I came across suggested it is closer to 130 diets with 17-31 years of their lives being spent “dieting”.
The shocking detail within these numbers were how long on average diets last before the person quits or “falls off the wagon”. It suggests 26% of women give up after a week, 72% give up after a month and only 7% of the 1500 women surveyed stay on the diet for more than 6 months.
The reasons for them quitting were interesting and something we can all relate to, 35% quit due to a lack of willpower, 31% quit after a lapse after a night out with friends and 19% due to boredom. Only 15% quit the diet because they had succeeded in reaching their goal.
My takeaway point from this is very simple…people give up too easily, more people are likely to quit and walk away from something instead of trying to find a way of making it a success. As the initial quote states, our weakness is in the fact we let ourselves give up, you are guaranteed to be successful at failing if you quit..
There are many reasons why someone may quit as stated above however a lack of willpower boils down to one thing…DESIRE. Those who quit because they lose the willpower simply do not want to change enough to make it happen.
When we become motivated to change it comes from 2 directions. The desire to move towards pleasure or the need to move away from pain. If the diet you are following is more painful in terms of what you have to sacrifice than the reward the end result will get you you won’t have the willpower to change. If your current situation e.g. your health is not painful or bad enough for you to want to improve it then again, you will struggle to motivate yourself.
This is why the first question you should ask yourself before deciding to change something, be it your diet, exercise regime, hair colour or partner is WHY? Why do you want to change it? What benefits to your life will it bring? Will it move you towards pleasure or away from pain? If you cannot answer this question comprehensively then that’s good, you have no need to try and change it and inevitably build yourself up for a motivational fall further down the line.
“I haven’t failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work” – Thomas Edison
Back to Thomas again, can you imagine if he just quit? If after the 2nd attempt he just gave up or even the 8,743rd attempt he packed it all in….we’d all be sat hear reading this under candle light.
Too often I have seen or heard clients, gym members, friends and family all say “I give up, it doesn’t work, I have tried EVERYTHING (my personal favourite) and I am a failure” all I must add are not true, they may just be on the 4,686th attempt at inventing the light bulb that is all.
The one thing I love about Thomas Edison and any other innovator who got knocked back time after time and eventually succeed is their attitude. The reason Thomas Edison didn’t give up is because he had 100% confidence in his own ability, he knew for sure he would eventually crack the light bulb…well not literally. Something he did that I practice myself in everyday life is simple…every time he attempted something and it did not work instead of personally writing himself off as a failure, he accepted it was the method that was not quite right and would therefore look at the positives and look at what he could improve on and changed his approach accordingly.
I can honestly say I have never been a failure, somethings I have tried in life have not worked out exactly how I had hoped but I have never failed. I have never “fallen off a wagon” because I don’t jump on one to begin with, I have never beaten myself up or felt guilty for food or drink I have eaten. Eating and drinking is just an action, it does not define me and I can always rectify it.
One piece of advice I wish I could install in to everyone who has ever set foot on a new challenge, be it a new career or a new lifestyle is to approach it knowing full well you will succeed, that the route along the way may be bumpy perhaps even blocked and you have to find a new route but you will always get to where you want to go as long as you persevere and keep driving forwards, because no one has ever reached their goal destination by quitting and heading back home.
So next time you feel like packing it in ask yourself 2 questions…
WHY am I doing this?
HOW can I adapt things to ensure I succeed?
And remember, the most certain way to succeed is to try one more time.