One of the most enjoyable things my family has done during quarantine is watch videos by a Scottish fellow named Mike Boyd.

While struggling to write his Master’s thesis in engineering, Boyd got frustrated. The harder he worked at it, the more the thesis befuddled him, so he decided to take a little break and learn how to do a kickflip on a skateboard. This would be a particular challenge because he didn’t know how to skateboard.

Boyd set up a camera and recorded every second of his efforts to learn this basic skateboarding skill. Over a number of days, it took him a total of five hours and 47 minutes of actual practice time to achieve success.

This inspired us, not because any of us (with the exception of my eight-year-old granddaughter) want to skateboard, but because it was thrilling to watch someone pick a goal and stick to it. Boyd edited the six hours of footage down to six minutes and posted it on YouTube. We saw his struggles, his frustration, his many failures, and his eventual success.

About 12 minutes into his learning, Boyd cracked himself in the shim with the edge of the board. We see him moaning in pain and limping away. He comes back with newly purchased shin pads and continues his quest.

His joy when at last he managed a kickflip was contagious. We all applauded. And we weren’t the only ones. His kickflip video became a sensation. So he chose another skill to learn: riding a unicycle.

That video was also a success, so he documented learning to juggle. From there he learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube, spin a basketball on one finger, throw playing cards and stick them in an apple, ski, and around 30 other skills.

From all this, Boyd not only became a YouTube star, he learned something about success. When you start out attempting something new, your enthusiasm is on an upward slant. He calls this the honeymoon period, because you are filled with hope and excitement.

Then you fail. And you fail, again. And you fail. And you fail and fail and fail and fail. These failures can be represented by a downward sloping line. Before long you are discouraged, frustrated, and angry. The line has now dipped well below where it was when you started.

Boyd says that this is the point where most people quit. But if at this low point you don’t quit, you will soon experience a tiny bit of success. And then a bit more. And a bit more. And soon the line of enthusiasm and renewed effort swings upward toward eventual accomplishment of your goal.

People fail, Boyd says, because they give up too easily.

My granddaughter and I are both learning to throw playing cards and stick them in a target. My daughter is learning to juggle. Right now all three of us are in failure mode, but none of us are going to quit. Thank you, Mike Boyd.

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