The other night, I had the honor and privilege of watching my youngest child try to figure out an insolvable problem. This is the very same girl who, I learned quite some time ago, must never be told that something is not possible. Such silly pronouncements mean nothing to her. Whenever I’ve been foolish enough to tell her such, she has promptly proven me wrong. I smile big in response, beaming with joy, acknowledging that I’m the only one who’s being silly.
This particular night, I turned her loose (granted permission, really…she turned herself loose) on hooking up a brand new DVD player to a rather dated TV set, given to me a few too many years ago by a dear friend. Several lessons were learned by me that evening, not least of which is the idea that unbridled enthusiasm can be a beautiful thing to witness. My daughter’s relentless effort in trying to make something work that, of the two of us, only I concluded would be impossible, was quite touching (if not a little hard on my heart).
I also learned that, if you don’t believe (or know) that something’s impossible, there’s nothing in your mind to second guess any of your best efforts. My advice, as the evening progressed, was that we were probably not going to enjoy success, neither with the hardware and cabling, nor with the interface. I’m sure I know how her mind processed my assessment. She continued undaunted (mostly because the viewing of Spider-Man was at stake). She didn’t realize, as I already had, that our task was, indeed, impossible.
In fact, her unflagging efforts actually accomplished some things that I was not capable of pulling off. To be blunt, whereas I lost patience and interest somewhat quickly (let’s call this giving up due to known constraints), she sallied forth (let’s call that sheer energy, youthful exuberance, and an unwillingness to yield in the face of adversity). Between the two of us, I’d definitely want Daughter on my team, not Dad.
A mere child with no experience in these electronic incompatibilities, her only methodology was one of tinkering her way through a problem. No know how, no prior knowledge, just a stubborn working out of an intractable challenge. Try try again. Brilliant.
The exertion was truly admirable, concluding in results not too shabby by any stretch of the imagination. Not success, but certainly not failure. I smiled at her, hugged her, told her I loved her, then casually added that her earnest struggle, although ultimately ending in our mutual disappointment (I wanted to watch Spider-Man, too), was something she should be exceedingly proud of. I used simpler language, too.
How can any of what I just relayed possibly be related to the act of writing? Mostly I can sum it up in a single sentence of advice, revolving around a single, simple word:
If you want to continually improve your chances of realizing success, it comes down almost exclusively to just one thing…persistence.
Thank you, Daughter of Mine. You are my best teacher.