I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.

I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false.

The hundredth time I am right.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, as we all know, was a giant in science and philosophical insight. The vocational success that he achieved over his lifetime has been matched by few and admired by millions. 

I think for months or years

Science is a great example of the importance of making mistakes in order to move forward. All scientific breakthroughs come about from hundreds of experiments, thousands of working hours, lots of mistakes, failures and unknown territory. And so it is with nearly every other aspect of our lives – you have to suck for a while before a breakthrough of success happens. The important thing, as the quote suggests, is to stay focused on what you want and never give up.

Did you notice in the above quote that Einstein says, “I think and think for months and years”? What do you think he is thinking about? Is he thinking about how dumb he is because he can’t find the answer? Do you think he thinks about what other scientists are doing? Is he thinking about how he had better hurry up and figure it out before someone else does? Is he thinking about all the other things he could be doing with his time? My guess, is that he is 100% focused on finding the answer irrespective of how he feels, how tired he gets, how frustrating it is, how many times he stuffs it up and how far he is from the solution. He is fully engaged in the process and has a crystal clear vision of where he is going to end up and it doesn’t matter if he makes errors along the way.

The hundredth time I’m right

I don’t consider myself to be overtly successfully or even very talented. But any success or talent that I have achieved (even if only small) has come about from never giving up until I get it right. In the martial arts world there are techniques that I have done over hundreds of thousands of times and still haven’t mastered but I will keep at it until I do. And when I do “get it right” my job is then to maintain that skill. Just like in life - you know what you want, you do the work to get it and then you reap the benefits of the achievement. But it isn’t just handed to you, you have to go out there, put in the hours, fail a bunch of times, be told you can’t do it, struggle with it, suck at it, etc.. then one day you will make it just like the quote suggests. 

I leave you to ponder this quote by James Whitcomb:

“The most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.”