General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Have you ever pursued a significant project, despite your belief it will fail?

Asked by wundayatta (58591points) January 13th, 2009

Sometimes I am amazed at other people’s belief in their own capabilities. Supposedly this belief helps make them successful.

In comparison, I doubt all the time, and yet…. and yet… sometimes I still get involved in the project. Ah, who am I kidding. I always do. I’ve been tilting at windmills since I was 22. I think at the beginning, I believed I could succeed, but for a while now, I’ve known it was hopeless.

These projects include things like passing the equal rights amendment, fighting for clean water, fighting for working folks, and most recently, working to get a universal coverage, tax-financed single-payer health system instituted in the US. God help me. On the personal side, it has included things like trying to write stories or a novel. That’s a bit harder, because, while I don’t believe I have a chance of getting it published, I will not be able to live with myself if I don’t do it.

What about you? What was your windmill, you Sancho Panza’s and Don Quixote’s? How did you fare? What kept you going? Did you succeed? If you failed, was it worth it?

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24 Answers

cage's avatar

I’ve been making a guitar for the last year.
Not world changing but you know…

asmonet's avatar

I’m building a telescope..It’s kind of big. Like, ten feet.
Still working on it. There’s a real chance it will suck, as I’ve never attempted anything like it before. But I think with work and patience it could be wicked cool.

A telescope almost identical to this one!

jfrederick's avatar

does repeatedly trying to lose weight count?

fireside's avatar

I tried to reform a 40 year old company in my first through sixth year there.
Didn’t work, but what a great opportunity to grow in my knowledge and skills.

asmonet's avatar

Nimis, darling, type faster or I’m going to kill hug you.

aprilsimnel's avatar

The bigger goals you cite are still worth fighting for, but because they’re such large, society-changing goals, they may take a lot more time to come to fruition. The only thing I’ve ever agreed with Chris Matthews on is when he said that the future is liberal, and it occurred to me that, in the long-term view, he’s right. People have gained more rights and awareness in the long term since the rise of civilization. Don’t lose hope! Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells fought for freedoms and rights that didn’t come to pass until after they died. Yes, there’s still work to do and we’re the ones here now to do it.

As for writing that novel: Keep your goal very simple. Don’t worry about getting published. Write it for yourself. That’s what I learned from Python. I went to a talk given by my fave Python, Michael Palin. He said that when they wrote sketches, they wrote what they themselves would laugh at, and didn’t worry whether people outside their group would find them funny. That mode of thinking and working may help ease some of the pressure. Writing Down the Bones is a good book that helps with just this sort of issue. And go where other writers go. Being around people who are achieving their goals in the areas you want to achieve helps to change your mindset greatly.

To paraphrase Obama:

Yes, you can!

laureth's avatar

Staying in relationships with most of my ex-boyfriends.

Nimis's avatar

I’ve got to run off to do something just about now.
But I promise to come back to this question though!
[gives a quick hug to Asmonet and runs swims off]

fireside's avatar

lol, nimis

tennesseejac's avatar

I try to know my limits, even though I’d like to think I can do anything. Many times when I am making/ painting something I have an image in my head that I know is not going to be my end result, but it’s something to work toward. Most recently I attempted to make a sound isolation booth that did not turn out so great and before I began I knew it was not going to look like the vision in my head. If I have doubt that I will succeed in something I try to just stay positive and just go for it, but when I know it’s a failure I will give up (unless it’s a competition).

*The other day I was challenged to a one-on-one foot race and I was pretty sure (90%) I was going to lose, but I gave it my best….. that’s all we can do, right?

andrew's avatar

* cough * * cough *
* cough *


fireside's avatar

lol, huge fail, eh Andrew?

shadling21's avatar

I’m the first one to bail when things look bad. Man, that is going to change! I need to create my own destiny for once. Even if it leads to EPIC FAIL.

There is something to be said for having passion and doing things that no one believes will work out. I admire any and all who go against the grain (unless they are complete jackasses whose strive to destroy happiness).

I’ve decided that I can no longer let the world dictate my future so utterly. Time to make things happen. Time to do battle with the opportunities on the horizon.

Rah rah! Go us!

augustlan's avatar

I took on the truly epic task of convincing my Republican, gun-owning, West Virginia mountain man husband to vote for Obama. Many, many times I thought I was wasting my breath. It was so important to me that he vote for the principles he actually believes in (rather than those he had grown accustomed to) that I kept on anyway. I won, and so did Obama :)

asmonet's avatar

You better, Nimis. The ocean is vast, but not infinite, I will find you.

wundayatta's avatar

@Nimis: boy, that sounds like a challenge to me, and not a hopeless one, either. The ocean may not be infinite, but it’s really, really, really big! As far as I know, Asmonet is not a sailor.

I’m just being silly. Don’t I get to be silly every once in a while?

Nimis's avatar

@daloon and @asmonet Decided to PM you guys instead.
@asmonet No need to hunt me down!

asmonet's avatar

Sweet jesus, that’s one hell of a tale.

fireside's avatar

Nimis doesn’t love the rest of us…. : (

asmonet's avatar

Haha, suck it. I’m special. :P

augustlan's avatar

<< Jealous jelly :(

Nimis's avatar

@fireside and @augustlan Yous twos is silly.
I just felt a bit weird throwing out so much information on a thread.
Usually I share personal information with close friends or if people ask.
I’m still trying to find a balance between being open and plunking it all out there.

asmonet's avatar

Plunk it, I do. :)
Though, in this instance, having read it I understand the reticence.

fireside's avatar

Yeah, nothing wrong with plunking. especially since the story has a triumphant ending (basically)
i hold back online too though.

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