When I write a blog my intent is not to offer quick fixes or easy solutions. I’m here to help you keep things in perspective and continue to work toward your goals. In fact, in most cases I don’t believe there is an easy way. Beverly Sills said, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going,” and I agree with her. I would even go a step further and say that anyone looking for a shortcut [the easy way] isn’t going to make it anyway. But you can still try.
With that in mind, I would like to discuss the quote from Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” I think Yoda was wrong. In a big way. I think try is 90% of it. Of everything. Even after you have achieved success; reached your goal, try remains a huge reason why your success will or will not continue. Consider this: You finally have your business up and running, what do you do next? You try to get more customers, you try to keep up with the changing marketplace, you try to understand your customer’s wants and needs. And so it goes – you try and you try and you try. No try? Psshhhhh! Sorry Yoda, but back to the drawing board for you it is.
The thing with trying something is that you have to try it long enough to know if what you are doing works. I mean really try it. So many times I have heard people say, “I’ve tried everything.” Maybe so, but how long did you try it? Did you stick to that exercise program for longer than a few weeks? Did you stay on your diet for more than a day or two? How many blogs did you write before you decided it was pointless? Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
To illustrate, Stephen King, who needs no introduction because he tried something long enough to know if it would work, was tired of trying to get published. Carrie was actually his fourth novel but became the first to be published. He had pretty much given up on it [Carrie] and his wife found crumpled pages of the story in the trash. She removed them, read them, and told the now famous King that she thought he had an idea that would sell. Thirty publishers disagreed and rejected the manuscript. The 31st publisher, DoubleDay, accepted the book and the rest, as they say, is history. You can read the full story here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/53235/how-stephen-kings-wife-saved-carrie-and-launched-his-career
Thirty publishers. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Give it some thought, though. Thirty letters that said, “Dear Wannabe, We regret to inform you blah blah blah don’t like your book blah blah blah you don’t have what it takes blah blah blah give up now and save yourself the embarrassment.” Okay, none of the rejection letters were probably that harsh, but after 10 or 20 or 30 it probably felt pretty harsh. The point is, King gave it enough time to know whether the story would work. Thirty rejections, but only one acceptance letter changed everything. Who knows, maybe when you decide to try long enough to know whether something works, you’ll hit your “one” on your first try.
A book dug out of the trash launched the career of the man famous for reviving the horror story. Think what the world would have lost if he had given up on Carrie, stopped trying to get it published, and turned away from writing. Think of how many stories you have heard that are similar to this one – people on the verge of giving up who hung in there and kept trying long enough to know whether they had what it took.
Are you trying to improve yourself? Are you trying to start a business? Are you trying to figure out what life is telling you? Whatever you are trying, I recommend trying it at least 30 publisher’s worth. I’m not sure if that’s a real form of measurement but maybe it ought to be.
So then, what does it mean to try? According to Webster try means to make an attempt or effort to do something. This solidifies my earlier statement that Yoda was wrong. According to Yoda, making an effort is pointless. You either do a thing or you do not. Again I say no! The effort is the doing! It is when you stand up and make another attempt, and another and another… it is when you try through 30 letters of rejection, that is the doing!
Now then, the attempt or effort has to mean something. There has to be something to it. You cannot simply throw a story together overnight – to use the King example – submit it to 30 publishers and then say that you tried to be a writer. If you want to be a published writer you have to make a genuine attempt, put some good solid effort into the story you submit. King did not fall into success with a thrown-together-no-effort novel and neither will you.
Perhaps you want to lose weight. You cannot simply cut calories for 2 days, step on the scale and throw your hands in the air helplessly and say that you have tried to lose weight and it just doesn’t work. A two-day diet is nowhere near 30 publisher’s worth of trying. Six solid months of consistent healthy eating along with a workout regimen is a good, solid try.
Let’s look at your own effort. If you can honestly say that you are giving your best effort, trying with everything you’ve got, and nothing is happening then it is time to look at what your try consists of. Here are some things to keep in mind:
~ When it comes to trying, consistency matters and it matters big. You might be amazing at what you do, but if people cannot count on you to be there when they need you or when you have said you will be, they will likely lose interest. Be consistent. If you are blogging post at least once a week, especially if you are just starting out. If you own a coffee shop have consistently high quality food and drinks. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Stop for a minute and think about how many times you visit a café or coffee shop and sometimes their stuff is great and sometimes not so much. Be consistent.
~ Make sure your effort matches your desired outcome. If you are an accountant and you are building your client list, it does not make sense to take time off during tax season. Your desired outcome is more clients so you need to make yourself available during the time when you are most needed. If you put all your effort in during the summer months but take off during those early months of the year, you will likely not meet your goals.
~ Steer clear of patterns of behavior. Be cautious of trying, experiencing some success, backsliding, failing and starting again; trying, experiencing some success, backsliding, failing… trying, experiencing some success… If you notice a pattern like this you have to change something in order to break the pattern. Doing the same thing you have done before – or a million times before – is not going to make it work this time.
~ How big is your try? If you are trying to lose weight and you cut 100 calories a day, you probably should not count that as a try. If you talk about starting your own business or going back to school but do not follow-up with any sort of action, that is not trying, that is talking. Put your heart into it. If you fail walk away knowing that you could not have done more than you did and you would not do anything different.
~ Keep some sort of records. A little while can seem like a long time when you are trying something. This is due, in part, to the amount of mental energy it takes to try. You can feel exhausted from trying even though your effort has not been near what you think it has. That is why it can help to write things down. Keep track of when you started, when you plan to reach your first goal and remind yourself along the way that while results are important, the effort you put in is important, too. Remember both the effort and the outcome but do not expect too much too soon.
~ Give yourself credit. And a day off! Remember to reward yourself for all your hard work. You might not get the result you want or it might take longer than you had hoped, but patting yourself on the back as you go along can fuel the trip. And there is nothing wrong with having a day off. If you expect too much of yourself you can set yourself up for failure. Be sure your expectations of yourself are reasonable.
Trying is vital to success. If you do not try, you will never find success. “Do or do not, there is not try.” Nope, I like “try, try again” much better.