“Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.”

Thomas H Palmer, author

Most teachers I know agree that the biggest obstacle to learning is the fear of failure. Somehow you have to get the idea across that it’s okay to make a mistake. If you put history under the microscope, you’ll see that most inventions didn’t work on the first try. And most gold medal winners didn’t become champions without a few setbacks and strikeouts.

I’m an educational aide in the city schools where I live. And I think at least one teacher I work with may have a solution to this problem. On her classroom wall, where every student can see it, is a poster called, The Power of Yet.


I can’t do this YET.

This doesn’t work YET.

I don’t know YET.

It doesn’t make sense YET.

I don’t get it YET.

I’m not good at this YET.

The actor Micky Rooney said, “You always pass failure on your way to success.” And to that let me add, “Why not enjoy the journey.”


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I had a short and sometimes painful career as an amateur boxer.  My interest in the sport waned when George Foreman retired.  But I still enjoy watching the greats of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s on You Tube. For all the punches they took to the head, these guys offer some great insight on The Power of Yet.

Joe Louis was The Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1937 to 1949. He defended his title a record 25 times. He had this to say about the path to success. “There is no such thing as a natural boxer. A natural dancer has to practice hard.  A natural painter has to paint all the time.  Even a natural fool has to work at it.”

In 1952 Floyd Patterson won a gold medal at the Olympics. Four years later he became Heavyweight Champion. After losing it in 1959, the following year he became the first boxer to regain the title.  Floyd observed, “I’ve learned so much, so very much about myself in defeat. I’ve learned very little to nothing in victory.”

At the age of 45 George Foreman won the Heavyweight Championship 20 years after losing it. The man he took it away from was 19 years younger. George said, “The world is full of people who want to play it safe, people who have tremendous potential but never use it. Somewhere deep inside them, they know they could do more in life, be more, and have more – if only they were willing to take a few risks.”


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And let’s not forget about the musician lost in New York City.

He stopped a passerby and asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

The answer he got was, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”


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