The Paradox of Success
“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” We’ve all
been on the giving and receiving end of this hackneyed and
flawed piece of advice. Trying doesn’t breed success so
consider the Jedi alternative.
Yoda famously says to Luke Skywalker, “Try not. Do. Or do
not. There is no try.“ Trying’s just an attempt, a stab, a Hail
Mary-with little expectation of success.
When we say we are trying we don’t really have to do
anything. “I’m trying to get organized. I’m trying to tame my
calendar. I’m trying to control my shopping habit.” So what?
Saying you’re trying means you don’t have to actually do a
thing. It also provides a built in excuse for the failure that is
almost ensured by trying rather than doing. And trying
really, really hard is no more fruitful than plain old trying.
You either do something or you don’t do it. “I got organized.
I didn’t get organized. I tamed my calendar. I didn’t tame
my calendar. I controlled my shopping habit. I didn’t
control my shopping habit.” Trying is effectively the same as
not doing these things.
Trying is a verbal crutch that we employ to ease the pain of
failure. This may sound like linguistic gymnastics, but it’s
much more. Whether you’re trying or doing sets the stage
for success or failure. Language is the vehicle of our
intention. The way we talk informs the way we believe and
the way we believe changes the way we behave.
Maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it.
Here are three suggestions:
1. Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. It is a
worthless word that accomplishes nothing other than making
you feel better when you fail.
2. Decide either to do or not do. If you don’t want to do
something, fine. Don’t do it. But don’t pretend that trying is
the same as doing. They are two completely different stances.
With a shift in self-perception from “I try” to “I do”, we
enhance our chances for success in whatever arena we’re
3. Commit completely to the outcome you want. Go for the
win. Don’t settle for merely trying. Rather than striving for
change, just change. In the words of the footwear giant,
“Just do it.”