My wonderful teammate, Ishha Nagrath, asked me to write a guest article for her blog. I did, and I liked it, so I’m sharing it with you here! (And you should take a look at Ishha’s blog if you like mine.)
Never Give Up. Or Not.
Two inventors, two stories.
The first inventor you probably know. His name is Thomas Alva Edison. Greatest among his many inventions shines the light bulb, if you’ll pardon the pun, which we make at Thomas Alva’s expense because by all accounts he was not a very nice man about it.
Regardless of his social skills, the light bulb is a pretty useful invention. I’m willing to bet you have used one at least once today!
You’ve probably also heard the story of his dogged persistence in inventing the light bulb. Try, fail. Try, fail. Over a thousand times until he hit on the winning solution. As a result, we get a wonderful inspirational tale of Never Giving Up. And the lights, those are a pretty cool outcome too.
Okay, but how about Spencer Silver? You probably haven’t heard of him. He was a scientist who was into glue.
It’s not what you’re thinking, especially if you’re a fan of the movie Airplane. Silver was trying to create a super sticky adhesive. Like Edison, he tried, failed. Tried, failed. And instead of creating the next Super Glue, he created… well, kind of a Wimpy Glue. It was sticky… a little.
Ah ha, now you know the guy I’m talking about, right? He failed at making the Super Sticky Glue, but succeeded in making another product altogether. Which some might argue are a mild success. And as a result, we get a wonderful inspirational tale of Giving Up. And the yellow stickies are a pretty cool outcome too.
So which is it?
Should we Give Up?
Or should we Never Give Up?
The answer is not “it depends.”
The answer is simple.
You never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up on your story.
What’s your story? It’s what your life is all about. It’s your mission, it’s your vision, it’s your goals, it’s your passion. It’s what you want people saying about you at your retirement party.
Don’t ever give up on that.
But as you go about bringing your story to life, some things might not work. You might try something, thinking it’s going to get you closer to your vision, and not get the results. You might find yourself further away from your vision when you’re done.
And if that’s the case, bag it. Immediately. Try something else. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
But keep your eye on your story.
Edison never gave up, because his story was all about bringing light into people’s homes without them having to light gas lamps and stuff. A thousand tries. Try it again.
Silver’s story was a bit different. His story was about bringing useful products to people. And when his method wasn’t working, he shifted it. He learned that people not only wanted super-sticky glue, they wanted little pieces of paper with kind-of sticky glue that they could move around. He kept his eye on his story.
The trick is, of course, to know what your story is. But that’s a whole ‘nother book.