When I was in high school band (yes, I was just that cool), the director of the brass line would sometimes lead practices, and one of his favorite things to say was this:
He said it in a Yoda voice and I didn’t really get it at the time, other than it was a Yoda thing. I can only assume he said it in response to a student telling him they would try something.
“I’ll try,” they’d say.
“Do or do not. There is no try,” he’d reply.
*student rolls eyes*
I’ve become more aware of the meaning of the word “try” as I’ve grown older and wiser. It struck me this morning when my husband said something innocuous about the garbage. See, the can in the kitchen was full and today is trash day, so we needed to get the bag out before the truck came by.
“I’ll try to get that out in time,” he said.
Try? I thought. That won’t help if we miss it.
And once again, my Yoda-inspired band teacher’s words came rushing back. Either we get the trash out or we don’t. No one cares if we tried. There is no A for effort here.
For the record, he got the bag out in plenty of time, regardless of trying.
I see try in the same way I see aspiring. It’s a hedge. It’s non-committal. It takes responsibility for doing the thing off the shoulders of the try-er. If we had missed the garbage truck, we could potentially blame the truck for getting here earlier than normal. We tried to get it out. It didn’t work. But in reality, we just needed to get our butts in gear.
It didn’t work. Oh well. At least I tried.
Let’s try to get together.
I’ll try to find a better job.
I’m trying to get published.
Let’s get together.
I’ll find a better job.
I’m going to get published.
In either case failure is possible, but the “oh well” attitude isn’t present in the second set of scenarios. In fact, I see an extra element of drive in the second set. If we fail, we go on to the next thing until something works.
This is my attitude when it comes to marketing – I’ve “tried” way more strategies than what has worked, but observers only see what works. I may have struck oil with my first book, but that was after quite a lot of pecking away at less successful endeavors. In my mind, I wasn’t trying. I did something and it didn’t work. So I did another thing and another until something worked.
Trying provides an out. It gives permission to quit. I tried. I failed. The end.
Did you notice “try” isn’t in that Edison quote up there?
I guess I should thank my band leader for drilling those words into my head twenty years ago, in Yoda-ese, no less. I get it now.