I want ideas about success, which as the opposite of failure.DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE FAMOUS SAYING "IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, TRY TRY AGAIN" ?

11 Answers | Add Yours

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

As I recall, F. Scott Fitzgerald had accumulated about 110 letters of rejection from publishers before he sold his first short story. He certainly tried and tried again--and again and again and again . . . until he succeeded in getting his career underway. Another story comes to mind, also, which I will paraphrase. As I recall, Thomas Edison had produced one light bulb after another after another with no success, until one day he succeeded. When someone asked him if all of his early efforts had been of no value, he said they had been very valuable because they taught him all the ways NOT to make a light bulb! Trial and error--a definite way to learn and reach a goal. What a sad thing if one would stop trying on what would have been the final attempt before breaking through. If Fitzgerald and Edison had both quit, we no doubt would still be able to turn on a lamp because somebody else would have figured that one out, but we wouldn't ever have gotten to read The Great Gatsby!

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I certainly agree with "If at first you do not succeed, try again" primarily because, after studying the brain and its power for so long, there is no doubt in my mind that we are ALL born equipped to "try again" and to accept failure in order to appreciate success even more.

I believe we are both cognitively and behaviorally inclined to instant gratification and satisfaction, but I can tell that even babies won't tend to remain sitting down the first time they fall when taking their baby steps. Immediately, you can see a baby trying to at least lift one part of the body, because that is just not our nature to lay down and take self-pity.

In fact- I think self-pity is more of a socially- learned behavior modeled by movies and drama than a normal human reaction. I believe, in sight of failure, we are more prone to be angry than sad, and such anger could serve as some form of energy.

drmonica's profile pic

drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Contemporary schooling (9-12) contributes greatly to the concept of success versus failure, particularly with the idea of assigning grades for student work. In every public high school I have worked in, there is a pervasive teacher preference for students who succeed by the teacher's definition, which is to do all the homework and earn high grades, while not giving the teacher any lip. We are losing about 1/3 to 1/2 of our students in our schools that are most at risk because of this judgmental mentality. Teachers write off students who don't fit the "good student" mold and deem them failures, regardless of the potential and native intelligence and skills the students might possess that aren't elicited via traditional classroom teaching. Kids have learned this well before they ever get to 9th grade.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

My grandmother used to tell me that little adage--"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  I do agree.  What she and the adage meant is that failure is only failure if you stop trying.  Bruce Wayne's butler asks him, "Why do we fall, Master Wayne?  To learn to get back up again." 

I guess the main thing to remember is that when you "try again," you must try differently.  That brings me to another of my grandmother's sayings, "if you always do what you've always done, you will always have what you've always had."  So, you'll have to change things up a little if you expect a different outcome.

Take Abraham Lincoln, for example.  He had many failures before he ever celebrated a big success.  Good luck, and keep trying!!

A common list of the failures of Abraham Lincoln (along with a few successes) is:

  • 1831 - Lost his job
  • 1832 - Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
  • 1833 - Failed in business
  • 1834 - Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
  • 1835 - Sweetheart died
  • 1836 - Had nervous breakdown
  • 1838 - Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
  • 1843 - Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
  • 1846 - Elected to Congress (success)
  • 1848 - Lost re-nomination
  • 1849 - Rejected for land officer position
  • 1854 - Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1856 - Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
  • 1858 - Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1860 - Elected President (success)
drmonica's profile pic

drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

I think of failure as an often necessary step toward success. Those who fear failure will never succeed if they don't risk it; those who mock failure are masking their own fear and insecurity. There is a lot of truth in the adage when one door closes, another one may be opening. Sometimes failure helps us to see that other door.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In concurrence with the adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again," one needs only to review the history of some important people in history.  For instance, Donald Trump has lost fortunes at least three times, but today he is an extremely rich and influential man.  Richard Nixon, who was defeated as Governor of California, made the statement that the public would not have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore.  However, he returned to politics to nearly win against John F. Kennedy--he was ahead by 11 points in the polls until the famous TV debates--and, later to become President of the United States for two terms. Although he was disgraced in his last term, Nixon replied to the question "What would you like your epitaph to be?"  by saying that one should not judge a man by his successes, but rather by his response to failure, for this response is the true indication of one's character.

In the world of science, Jonas Salk did not immediately find the cure for polio, nor did others who have made discovers that have improved the quality of life.  Such examples of trying again and again abound in history. 

So, do some searching for examples that can support your thesis should be easy.  You should have no trouble proving this adage true.  

Good luck! 

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Contemporary schooling (9-12) contributes greatly to the concept of success versus failure, particularly with the idea of assigning grades for student work. In every public high school I have worked in, there is a pervasive teacher preference for students who succeed by the teacher's definition, which is to do all the homework and earn high grades, while not giving the teacher any lip. We are losing about 1/3 to 1/2 of our students in our schools that are most at risk because of this judgmental mentality. Teachers write off students who don't fit the "good student" mold and deem them failures, regardless of the potential and native intelligence and skills the students might possess that aren't elicited via traditional classroom teaching. Kids have learned this well before they ever get to 9th grade.

That's not necessarily the case, but no teacher wants students to give them "lip," and, doing all the homework is a form of character.  I have had student after student who did all the work, and even many of them who did not even take the AP exam at the end with their classmates, nor get the highest grade in the class, go on to Ivy League schools.

kc4u's profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

'Nothing succeeds like success' and, on the contrary, 'Nothing fails like failure'. 'Success' and 'Failure' are like the two sides of a coin. Just as success gives confidence and a lot of satisfaction, failure may give a sense of grit and a spirit to fight back in life. The great literary master of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett, offered us a whole philosophy of failure when he said, 'Fail again, fail better'. We can also recall Shakespeare's famous saying, 'Sweet are the uses of adversities'.

askandanswer's profile pic

askandanswer | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

There is a Korean saying that says "There isn't a tree that won't come down after 10 chops." This gives the meaning that you shouldn't give up and keep on trying because there will be success just around the corner.

Although well know story, we always hear examples of failures leading to success. Where would all the inventions be if Edison had not kept on trying? Would Abraham Lincoln have becomepresident if he had gave up after failing so many times in becoming a lawyer.

I believe in trying again after what history and current events have taught us so far. "If we don't succeed the first time" it will be our persistence that will eventually be credited.

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I believe in the phrase, "if at first you don't succeed...," but I wouldn't necessarily say that failure is a step to success, if failure causes someone to lose their job or worse. Failure is not necessarily a learning tool either, it just suggests another way of doing something.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Many good things in life don't come to you easily. We often need to work hard to get what we want, and still we may fail. Failing once does not mean that we can never succeed. By trying again and again we can succeed. For some of the things this is the only way. When a person is learning to ride a bicycle, the chances that he or she will learn to balance the bicycle in fist attempt are rare.

However I would like to sound a note of caution. Anything when carried to extreme, even the good things, can be harmful. Therefore even in trying again again we need to follow some guidelines. The amount of efforts you put in must have some relationship of the benefit you expect to receive from success. I suggest the following guidelines to decide when to continue to try and when to give up.

  • Evert new trial must be taken up wisely and not blindly. Just keeping on trying the same old approach in spite of its demonstrated ineffectiveness may not be very wise. So, one must give up trying when there there is no alternate way of trying.
  • Also one must give up when the cost of trying is more than the expected benefit of succeeding.

We’ve answered 318,957 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question