Tag Archives: Fail Cycle

Repetition

You want to be good at something?

Okay, okay. I know. That answer is easy. Everybody wants to be good at something.

But what does it take to get good at something?

You have to do whatever that something is over and over and over and over and over and over. Get the picture?

If you want to be good at something, you have to practice that something well. You have to repeat it.

Repetition is the key. Repetition with purpose.

If I want to be a good hitter, I need to repeat my swing over and over again. I need to repeat my over and over again while attempting to get a little closer to a perfect swing with each subsequent repeat.

If I want to be a good writer, I have to write. Over and over and over again. I need to work at crafting the words better with each idea and each sentence. Repetition.

Very few, if any, kids walk into first grade, kick up their feet, and tell the teacher they’re ready to read War and Peace. The first graders have to learn the sounds the letters make, learn the combinations and then the meanings. Thousands of repetitions are required before your average first grader is going to where the wild things are or even seeing Spot run. Thousands of repetitions, hundreds of mistakes and failures. Being good at something is all about the Fail Cycle.

  1. Try
  2. Fail
  3. Regroup
  4. Learn
  5. Try again
  6. Succeed
  7. Level up
  8. Back to #1

Practice with a purpose. Repeat with the purpose in mind. Get better.

  • Hit the ball harder.
  • Write better stories.
  • Teach kids to read.
  • Construct a house.
  • Repair a car.
  • Operate a farm and/or a ranch.
  • Design a bridge.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Anything worth doing is worth doing the best you can.

Over and over and over and over and over again…

Why all this nonsense on repetition with purpose?

Because I think we are in a place where we want the “Easy Button”. If it ain’t easy, I ain’t doing it. Failure means “quit trying”. Failure means packing up the tent and crawling home. We want to be good, we want to pound our chest about how awesome we want to be, but we forget the “anything worth doing” bit.

We forget the satisfaction is in the journey and the trials and the tribulations. We forget that if we do the work and do the practice and do the repetition, good things usually happen. The “Oh yeah, that thing is really hard, but I just kicked its ass” feeling is a feeling like no other.

Speaking of repetition. This is post #399 on The Coach Hays Blog. Who would have ever guessed when I started this thing back in 2009 as an energy outlet after my football coaching career went belly up it would still be in existence?

I guess the better question is, how can one guy be so damn stupid?

Thanks for hanging around and putting up with my rants and raves and idiocy.

Who knows what the next 100 posts will bring?

More repetition on the theme of STUPIDITY without a doubt!

 

 

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Fail Cycle #2

In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I believe in the Fail Cycle. The older I get, when I want to relax and put life into cruise control, I know I need to force myself to keep working to improve through challenge and failure.

What is the fail cycle? In short, you have to push yourself to get better. If you are pushing your limits far enough, you will fail.  But, when you stay after it with perseverance and hard work, improvement is inevitable.  If you are not working to move forward, you are moving backward.  And yes, neutral is backward.

Coaching and training are filled with the experiences of the fail cycle, so is being a writer.  But the experiences are much different.  Coaching is a group exercise, we push a collective of people, personalities and philosophies toward a common goal of success.  The failures and the improvement are shared within the group. Training can be a group exercise and it can be very personal.  The individual or team is pushed to failure, but the failure is mostly internal to the individual or group.  Writing is a whole new animal. It is personal and it is individual.  Failure from the necessary exposure to outside editing and critique bites sharp at the marrow of the writer. It is a frightening experience.

Recently, I read a open blog invitation from an agent, Mary Kole, on her excellent writing blog site (www.kidlit.com). She read a book called HOOKED by Les Edgerton on book beginnings and offered the opportunity for her readers to submit the first 500 words of one of their manuscripts for her professional critique. She would select five and do critical workshops on them on the blog. I knew from her blog posts and information she provides on her site that she is a no B.S. professional. She knows her stuff and stands true for what she knows is the right way to write.

Basically, I knew sending in a beginning to one of my stories was putting myself out to the battlefield without armor or weapon.  I knew Mary Kole would pull no punches on the five beginnings she selected for the workshop.  With this looming in back, front and both sides of my mind, I took the chance anyway and sent in the first 500 words to a story I am working on.  The story, an upper middle grade fiction story called WONDERLAND GARDENS, is about a 14 year-old boy who must use the resources of the elderly citizens of the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Village to save his classmate nemesis, a girl,  from the evil clutches of a possessed dance instructor.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) out of the 100+ submission and dodging the bullet through four of the five workshops, guess who gets a cheery email on Friday July 1 from Mary Kole informing me I was Number 5?  Great, I submitted such a great examples of how NOT to start a story that I get to be the finale to the workshops!  Then, when one reads in her introduction, “This workshop will be a little more nitpicky”, one wants to crawl away and hide.  But, as I read Mary’s criticisms, I knew straight away she was spot on with her comments.  Everything she pointed out, when fixed, will make for a exponentially better beginning to the story. If you wish to witness the train wreck and Mary Kole’s exceptional and helpful critique, here is the link to the Beginning Workshop #5

Failure…is…necessary.  If I want to get better at anything I do, parent, husband, writer, scientist, coach and trainer, it takes hard work.  It takes pushing the envelope, failing, then working to get better.  I’m rewriting the beginning to WONDERLAND GARDENS following Mary Kole’s suggestions.  The first draft I did last night was miraculously so much better than the original version I previously submitted.  I might have to do a future post comparing the two versions when I complete the newest version.

A special thanks to Mary Kole, associate agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, for sharing her time and resources to help fledgling authors like myself.  This trip into the literary fail cycle has been quite an experience.  Hopefully, my story and my skill development will also reap great benefits because of it.

Finally, here is an applicable quote from Neil Gaiman’s 10 Tips to Writing.

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

Have a great Fourth of July holiday!

Addendum: I forgot to put this in the original post.  When the failure robs the fun and enjoyment out of whatever you choose to do, it is time to back off a bit, take a short or a long break to recharge the motor, then take a running start at the next attempt.  The fail cycle should be an exercise of improvement, not an exercise in complete misery.

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Summer Conditioning: Fail Cycle

Rest Day Read (SR-22)
Failure by Mark Twight of Gym Jones
“The gifted athlete who sails from one success to the next with little effort or training knows nothing of himself or how he might behave when truly pressured.”
Whenever I think I know what it is all about, whenever I think I have reached an acceptable, comfortable level and the good I am doing is good enough, I always seem to find a way back to Mark Twight’s essays on the Gym Jones web site. He always slaps me back into reality, back into challenging myself and pushing forward. Gym Jones always reminds me just how behind the game I am.
Back when I was training athletes, I lived by the philosophy of the Fail Cycle. I give you a task, first you would cuss me out and complain, then you would try and fail, beaten and broken. Then you would go home and it would eat at you all night that you failed. Then you would come back and work your ass off until you complete the task. Then a new, more difficult task would be handed out and the cycle starts again.
I admit, I used to worry about some of the stuff I would ask the athletes to do. But I also knew that we weren’t big, fast, or terribly athletically gifted as a group, so we had to prepare with maximum effort mentally and physically to turn our bodies into weapons. Their jelly-legged, exhausted, dead-ass tired bodies would drag themselves off the floor or dusty ground, give me that “you SOB” glare then go home. But the next day, they would come back fresh and ready to go.
It may sound weird to most, but seeing kids fight through those demons and push their mental and physical barriers, seeing them get up after being beat down and move forward a better man, is the one thing I miss the most about not coaching anymore. I do miss Friday nights, but I REALLY miss summer mornings at 6:30 AM.
No wonder the mothers worried so much…

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