By David DiSalvo

Editor’s Note: We often grab articles we think can help new fathers — or any father for that matter — from other sources. We always give attribution when we do. This is an oldie but a goodie. Failure has a lot to do with how we think. The most popular book in the world says in Proverbs, 23:7, “As a man thinks, so is he.” If you think you can be a good father, you can do it, but if you think you cannot, you will fail. That’s why we need “renewal in the spirit of our mind” (Ephesians 4:23). But I will let David DiSalvo explain, and you can make up your own mind.

Luke: I can’t believe it.

Yoda: That is why you fail.


My research into the traits of influencers and achievers continues, and as I turn more pieces of this puzzle around to fit the whole, more ideas appear to me as a fit for this space. In this edition, reflections on falling short — more precisely, why we fail despite ourselves.

1. Like Yoda said, you just don’t believe it

The crucial part of Yoda’s dialogue with Luke is “believe.” The human brain is a powerful problem-solving and prediction-making machine, and it operates via a multitude of feedback loops. What matters most in the feedback loop dynamic is input — what goes into the loop that begins the analysis-evaluation-action process, which ultimately results in an outcome.

Here’s the kicker: if your input shuttle for achieving a goal lacks the critical, emotionally relevant component of belief, then the feedback loop is drained of octane from the start. Another way to say that is — why would you expect a convincingly successful outcome when you haven’t convinced yourself that it’s possible?

2. Other people have convinced you of your “station”

I’ve always thought the “know your station in life” idea to be among the most pernicious we humans have ever come up with.  The only version of it I like is Tennessee Williams’:

“A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

Love that Tennessee Williams.

What’s more pernicious than the idea itself is that it’s often heaved upon us by other people, and they convince us that we are what we are and we’d better just live with it because, well, that’s what we’ll always be.

Really? Says who? Show me the chapter on predetermined stations in the cosmic rule book, please. This also gets back to the feedback loop dynamic, because if this external “station” scripting is part of your input, you can expect sub-par outcomes all the time.

3. You don’t want to be a disrupter

The word “disrupter” has taken on such a heavy, mixed bag of meanings in the last few years. Reading both popular psychology and business books, I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing to be.

One thing seems certain — the notion of disrupting anything, of being the water that breaks the rock — is scary to most of us. The reason is, disruption is perceived as a threat to our threat-sensitive brains.

Disruption means that consistency, stability and certainty might get jettisoned for a time, and that puts our hard-wired internal defence system on high alert. Sometimes, though, you have to override the alarms and move ahead anyway. If you never do, you’ll never know what could happen.

4. You think, “What if I die tomorrow?”

We all think this from time to time. And you know what, sure, any of us might die tomorrow — all the more reason not to waste time thinking about it and hamstringing yourself from going after what you want to achieve. Would you rather die as a monument to mediocrity or as someone who never quit striving? Which leads to the next one…

5. You wonder how you will be remembered

The rub here is simply that, if you “die tomorrow,” will people remember you as someone who clung to stability like an existential life preserver—and is that what you really want? I know for a fact that many people do want exactly that, because it’s a comfortable niche to occupy on the obituary page. “She/he was a good person, good friend, good….”

Good is fine, but it ain’t great. You can’t strive for great achievements by dropping anchor in Goodville. My take on this is: it’s OK to wonder how you’ll be remembered, but don’t let thoughts of “good and nice and stable” affect that all-important feedback loop, because if you do, your brain will be happy to oblige with lots of good and little else.

To read the other Five Reasons, click here.

About the Author: Guest Writer

Dads4Kids is a harm prevention charity committed to excellence in fathering. Our vision is to transform the nation by inspiring fathers to help their children be the best they can be.There’s a crisis in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 870,000 children, more than 1 in 6, live without their biological father at home.

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