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Mark C. Miller

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Expert Recommends: If At First You Don't Succeed -- Quit!

Posted: 07/25/2012 2:40 pm

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Photo: Getty Images/Seth Joel
Courtesy of: Seth Joel


HINDMAN, Ky. -- Growing up, Victor Breitling would sometimes fail at things and his mother would tell him, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." And he would make every effort to do so. "But it rarely worked out," admitted Breitling. "The worst was learning to ride my bike. I fell off and hurt my elbow the first time. I tried again and banged up my knees. I got right back on again and was hit by a car backing out of its driveway. That put me in a cast for three months."

When Breitling became a research specialist with Amalgamated Research Associates, he decided to scientifically test the folk wisdom. "Over a three-year period, my team interviewed twelve hundred people from all over the world about their trying again after failing at something. In 87 percent of the cases, not only did the subject not succeed at their intended goal when they tried again -- but they invariably incurred some kind of physical, mental, or emotional damage which often scarred them to this day. They said that if they had it to do all over again, they would never have tried again. So I would strongly urge the powers that be to rewrite the expression to read, "If at first you don't succeed, just quit; try something else; why make things worse?"

Breitling's next project is an investigation of the accuracy of the saying, "He who hesitates is lost." "I have my doubts about this one," admitted Breitling. "In fact, the only times in my life I have gotten lost is when I haven't hesitated and marched full speed ahead with something without considering all angles."

 

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