If at first you don’t succeed, stop trying

If at first you don’t succeed, stop trying
“A problem can never be solved from the level at which it was created.”
~Albert Einstein

The other day I was stuck in a problem, and I couldn’t seem to find my way out. I had a client for whom I had to design a new program, and try as I might, I couldn’t fit in everything that “needed” to be included in the day’s agenda. There wasn’t enough time to cover the important things, or enough reflection space between topics for the important things to fully sink in.

I sat at my computer for nearly the full day, trying time and again to make everything fit, but I simply couldn’t pull it off. I often coach clients not to work at forcing a solution, but I found that it was all I could do. I had a deadline. I had an anxious client. And I had to get this done. But I couldn’t.

I sat, and sat, and sat…and tried, and tried, and tried. And then I remembered something that often works for me – finding answers and inspiration from my collection of quotes.So I looked through my list and came upon this Albert Einstein quote that someone had recently shared with me. I read it quickly as I rushed through my list, but still it hit me right between the eyes. I was trying to force this solution. I was trying to solve this problem using my brainpower and willpower – and from the level at which it was created…sitting at my desk chair and refusing to leave it alone until I figured it out.

So I pushed against my natural impulses to keep going until I finished, stepped away from the computer and even the office, and went for a walk. And, needless to say, as I did my best to separate my mind from the problem (and evasive solution) at hand, a solution I never would have imagined had I remained in the “force it” mode, appeared. It suddenly became exceedingly apparent to me how I could combine topics to get where I needed to get, and which topics I could leave out, and still have the program achieve the results my client needed.

I love quotes because so often, whenever I remember to actually look at them, there is one that jumps out to remind me of what I need to know. To take a break, to look at things differently, to not try so hard, to try harder…to come at my problem from a different level and see what appears.

Where are you too stuck in your problem and how can you get out? What is a different level from which you can view things? What inspiration can you draw on to get you there? When there seems to be no solution for your problem at hand, step away to get a bigger picture – and then approach your challenge from a different viewpoint and level.

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What People Are Saying

Alan ibbotson   |   04 June 2013

Time. Distance. Perspective. The three things that I give myself when faced with the same problem. Time away- which is essentially what you have described so eloquently here. On a practical note I often use tools like The Creative Whack Pack to force me into a new mode of thinking. Favorites include “what would (Walt Disney/steve jobs/Oprah/Pick a name!) do? Or play the What if? Game. Which forces me to examine the paradigms through which I am trying to solve it- lo and behold, Einstein pretty much always had it right.

Or you can just go with the other version of his quote.
“If at first you don’t succeed, deny you we’re even trying”.

Thanks as always for your great blog posts!

Lisa Kohn   |   04 June 2013

And thanks for your great comment! There is a reason we get along – I agree with everything you said and I love the creative whack pack.

Keep on the Time. Distance. Perspective.