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If at first you don't succeed

Sunday, April 11, 2010

For those of us who started this project filled with enthusiasm and determination, and then somehow lost our way, here is a collection of just about everything I can find about "If at first you don't succeed... try try again."


From Dictionary Reference we have this explanation of the concept:

Don't let a first-time failure stop further attempts. For example, I know it's hard at first to shift gears without stalling but if at first you don't succeed . . . This seemingly ancient adage was first recorded only in 1840 but has become so well known that it is often shortened.
The original source has been traced back to 'Teacher's Manual' (1840) by American educator Thomas H. Palmer. Originally a maxim used to encourage American schoolchildren to do their homework. Palmer wrote in his 'Teacher's Manual': 'Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.'

Here's the full version:


'Tis a lesson you should heed,
Try, try, try again;
'If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.

Once or twice though you should fail,
Try again;
If you would at last prevail,
Try again.
If we strive, 'tis no disgrace
Though we may not win the race;
What should you do in that case?
Try again.

If you find your task is hard,
Try again;
Time will bring you your reward,
Try again.
All that other folks can do,
With your patience should not you?
Only keep this rule in view--
Try again.

And of course, over the years, the quote has changed, and changed, and changed again. Here is a comprehensive list of all the quotes I could find that start with "If at first you don't succeed...":

  1. If at first you don't succeed,
    find out if the loser gets anything.
    — Bill Lyon

  2. If at first you don't succeed,
    then cheat. Repeat until caught.
    — Internet humor

  3. If at first you don't succeed,
    try, try again. Then give up.
    There's no use in being a damn fool about it.
    ~W.C. Fields

  4. If at first you don't succeed
    Change the rules.
    — Unknown

  5. If at first you don’t succeed,
    keep on sucking till you do succeed.
    — Curly Howard of the Three Stooges

  6. If at first you don't succeed,
    you get back up and you try ...
    and you try ... and you try it again ...
    except ice skating,
    I hate this crap, I quit!
    — Little Richard, rock singer

  7. If at first you don't succeed,
    call in an air strike.
    — Murphy’s Laws of Combat

  8. If at first you don't succeed
    Blame central management.
    — Anonymous

  9. If at first you don't succeed
    Do it the way your wife told you to.
    — An anonymous wife

  10. If at first you don't succeed
    Delegate and make it someone else's problem.
    — Anonymous

  11. If at first you don't succeed,
    destroy all evidence that you tried.
    — Susan Ohanian

  12. If at first you don't succeed,
    failure may be your style.
    — Quentin Crisp.

  13. If at first you don't succeed,
    call it version 1.0.
    — Internet humor

  14. If at first you kind of stink,
    then by all means, Hollywood, try, try
    those failed film conceits again.
    But this time, get it right.
    — Mike D’Angelo

  15. If at first you don't succeed
    Go postal and shoot the crap outta everything.
    — Anonymous

  16. If at first you don't succeed
    click 'undo'.
    — Anonymous

  17. If at first you don't succeed,
    blame your server.
    — Computer Truism

  18. If at first you don't succeed
    Have a scapegoat handy.
    — Anonymous

  19. If at first you don't succeed
    It must be someone else's fault. Find them.
    Blame them. Make them pay.
    — Anonymous

  20. If at first you don't succeed
    Keep a separate ledger.
    — Anonymous

  21. If at first you don't succeed
    Lower your standards.
    — Anonymous

  22. If at first you don't succeed
    You will never succeed.
    — Anonymous

  23. If at first you don't succeed
    You are probably not related to the manager.
    — Anonymous

  24. If at first you don't succeed,
    you're running about average.
    — Marion Hamilton Alderson

  25. If at first you don't succeed,
    try a new line of business.
    — Mary Ellen Egan

  26. If at first you don't succeed,
    get new batteries.
    — 4th grade proverb

  27. If at first you don't succeed,
    dust yourself off and try again.
    — Aaliyah Haughton

  28. If at first you don't succeed,
    become a weather forecaster.
    — Internet humor

  29. If at first you don’t succeed,
    take the tax loss.
    — Kirk Kirkpatrick

  30. If at first you don’t succeed,
    skydiving is not for you.
    — Wendy Northcutt

  31. If at first you don't succeed,
    take a nap!
    — Vicki Sue

  32. If at first you don't succeed,
    do it like your mother told you.
    — An Anonymous Mother!

    Oh, and here's a really good one:

    If at first you do succeed,
    try to hide your astonishment.
    — Harry F. Banks

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