Early yesterday afternoon, I was feeling super tired and ugly cranky. My colleague Ed suggested that we have a little lunch before we continued our tasks. Coconut milk curry beef restored my body and positive conversation restored my spirit. At our bistro table, in the warm sunshine, Ed shared with me the Theory of 17.
The basic idea is this: every success comes after 16 failures.
How many times did I try to quit smoking? How many times have I tried to lose weight? control my temper? learn a new skill? develop a new habit? change something about myself that I don’t like? I can’t really count that high: so, I’m just going to say LOTS.
It is just so easy to allow ourselves to be discouraged, to accept that we are never going to succeed, to say “forget it” and grab another doughnut, stay in a job we hate, let our tempers loose, stay on the couch, whatever. We’ve TRIED to change. We just CAN’T. (It works better if you whine when you read that.) One of my least favorite sayings is, “Can’t never could.” I hate that; however, there is real truth there.
Ed also reminded me how often we give up just before the miracle. We give up on the 14th effort, or the 15th or the 16th. We were closer than we thought and we just barely missed it. How tragic to give up on ourelves when we are so close to being what we want to be?
In an address at Harrow in 1941, Winston Churchill said, “(N)ever give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Obviously, he was talking about something more dangerous than a snack cake – he was talking about war. Wasn’t he? Let’s think about this for a minute.
The Nazis exterminated groups of people – artisists, homosexuals, Jews, Romani, etc, over the course of about 12 years. They slaughtered some 11 million people in total, which makes for about 917,000 victims murdered annually. According to the National Insitute of Health and the Center for Disease Control , there are some 743,000 annual deaths in the US that are directly attributable to obesity or tobacco use. Look at that for a second. At least 743,000 of us VOLUNTARILY kill ourselves every year with food and tobacco. If you add in the number of us disabled by weight-related arthritis, smoking-related COPD, obesity and smoking related heart disease, we are doing a better job of committing genocide on ourselves than the most efficient genocidal machine in history. It is a Reflexive Holocaust.
We have the power to change this and we don’t need rifles or grenades to do it! Take a walk break instead of a smoke break. Pick up a banana instead of a candy bar (or even one of those “healthy” protein bars). Create a support system. There’s no need to be in that foxhole by yourself! You’re fighting. I’m fighting. Our friends are fighting. There is NO shame in saying, “I’m feeling a little weak right now, help me through this, would you?” There is no shame in failing. There is shame only in the refusal to try. If WWII ended with VE Day and VJ Day, then we can have VMe Days.
Try! Fail! Celebrate that failure and know that you are one failure closer to celebrating VMe!