Just try

As an educator, I am forever encouraging math-challenged students to try problems – both to see if they can find answers and to identify alternative methods for solution. Most of the time they comply, scratching their heads and chewing on their erasers for inspiration.

How many of our children (and grandchildren) have heard this at some time:

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

If they have heard it, how many question its source? Was it Benjamin Franklin, Old Farmer’s Almanac, or Judge Judy? In fact, the source was an otherwise obscure British educator, William Edward Hickson. But who better to coin a useful phase such as this than an educator!

Outside the worlds of professional sports, how much sincere trying do we observe? It often appears to me that we devise simple solutions to avoid trying. We have calculators to do math, electronic devices to handle communications (very often with spell-checking and usage monitoring) and enough news sources to eliminate decision making on numerous levels and issues.

When I encounter someone who asks how I’ve written books, he or she often responds that it is a life’s desire to write a book but – “I could never do that.” Inevitably, I respond by saying that all that’s necessary is to try. Edison tried 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb. And our shelves (e-shelves?) are filled with books from authors who tried hundreds of publishers before finding one who would accept their manuscripts.

Never stop trying. Keep hitting golf balls until you get the loft and distance desired. Keep walking, a bit farther each time, until you begin to feel the effects. Write whatever is in your heart and it will be good.

Einstein said it best:

You never fail until you stop trying.

Shalom.

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