Doing the Same Thing Again

As others have said: “Doing the same thing again and again and each time expecting results if the first sign of insanity,” and that is unfortunately so. A great many older people were brought up with the maxim: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” What the maxim didn’t say was: “If at first you don’t succeed, step back, study the problem, and learn what you need to have or to do to make things different.” Yes, you are always “allowed” at at least three mistakes when we are just beginning to learn something. After all, no one is born automatically knowing everything.

Our body knows how to breathe by itself; it knows how to sleep without us; it knows how to see and to taste and feel. This is because your body has all the memories of all of your ancestors, both the human ancestors and the animal ancestors: they all made many, many mistakes before they learned the best way too. But the most intelligent animals worked things out: they stood back, studied the problem, and then did things a different way.

When an elephant calf falls down in a ditch and you see a movie of that, you can see that the mother and the other members of the family rush to help the little elephant, but they also stand back when they see the matriarch, the elephant queen, come closet to help: they know she is more experienced, and can see another way, a different way. Sometimes we all get used to doing things the hard way because that is the way our family, our friends, orĀ  people on TV do it: we think that their way is our way. But we can always look and look again.

When we’re having trouble with something again, it helps a lot to look, really look, at what we are doing, and how, and why. Only then can we move away from what we or someone else did before, and see if something works better.

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