Do or Do Not. There is No Try
By not trying, you might be failing yourself. 12/25/2020 | Steve Woodburn, The Only Constant is Change
Here’s a challenge: Try to pick a pen up off your table. How’d you do? If you’re like most of us, you either picked the pen up or you didn’t. What if on your wedding day you had said, “I’ll try” instead of “I do”? So what does it even mean to “try”?
The dictionary definition of try is: to attempt to do something. In reality though, the word implies a risk of failure and since most of us want to avoid failure at all costs, we simply say, “I’ll try”. The irony is that by not trying, you might be failing yourself.
All of us have ideas on a regular basis we believe could make for a great product or business. And yet how many of us actually follow through on even one of those ideas? How often do we say to ourselves, “Maybe I’ll try that when I have some extra time.” Or perhaps you make a few attempts at doing something, but then give up because it’s too hard or you didn’t get the instant results you wanted.
It’s said that Thomas Edison made between 3,000 and 6,000 attempts before he finally found the right combination that created the incandescent lightbulb. While technically he was “trying” to create something, the fact is he was doing. He accepted the fact he would fail, but he also accepted the fact those failures would eventually lead to success.
None of us chooses to be fearful and certainly no one wants to fail. But both fear and failure are what innovation is built on. It’s so much easier to never push ourselves, to always color inside the lines and never want more than we have. But think where our world would be had these five people been content with their lot in life:
1. Dr. Seuss - Most everyone has read or had at least one of the good “Dr.’s” books read to them. More than 600 million of his children’s books have been sold; yet his first book was rejected by 27 different publishers. How easy would it have been for him to just give up and go back to working in advertising? But Seuss kept doing and the rest is history.
2. J.K. Rowling - How did a woman who was depressed, divorced and the mother of a one-year old end up writing the amazingly successful Harry Potter series? She had an idea and while she put it on hold for a few years during these trying times, she stuck with it and continued to write. In 1995, after rejection by a dozen publishing houses, a small publisher agreed to print 1,000 copies as a test. It took a few more years, but the awards began to roll in and as of 2020, Rowling has written 13 books, seven in the Harry Potter series, and is a billionaire. And all because she kept doing and not simply trying.
3. Walt Disney - The man who created Mickey Mouse failed multiple times before finding fame in Hollywood. And even after success, Disney was always pushing the limits of his company by doing, not simply trying. At the time of his death in 1966, his company had made more than 100 feature films and built the theme park named after him, Disneyland. He didn’t just try to make his dreams come true, he put forth the effort and endured by doing.
4. Sir James Dyson - Sometimes life sucks, but for Dyson, it sucked over 5,000 times before finding success. The story goes he made 5,127 prototypes of vacuums and accrued a pile of debt before hitting a home run with #5,128. The bagless, creative design interrupted the $4 billion vacuum industry and led his brand to own huge market shares on multiple continents. He kept doing and not trying, something success depends on.
5. Oprah Winfrey - The future media mogul was born into a life of poverty in rural Mississippi, suffering physical and mental abuse from several family members in her early years. She says it was her faith that saved her from the abuse and depression she endured through her teen years. In 1971 a radio station in Nashville hired her after seeing her presentation as a contender for Miss Fire Prevention. From there she made her way into television and became a household name hosting a national talk show for 27 years. Now worth over $3 billion, Oprah understands doing beats trying every time.
My wife and I had a dream two years ago. We came up with the crazy idea to create a plush moose with blue hooves, write a children’s book about his backstory, and use our brand to teach kids and adults alike that unique is marvelous. We could have spent the last two years trying to see if our idea was any good and avoiding failure. Instead we launched Marvelous Moosey Adventures in August of this year and look forward to the adventure of where Moosey will take us. Success isn’t guaranteed, but without doing, failure certainly is.
We can’t change the world overnight, but we can change our world each and every day. Will 2021 be the year you continue to “try” to achieve your dreams, or will it be the year you finally do it?
“Courage is a muscle and we strengthen it through use.” - Tony Robbins
“Do not fear failure, but rather fear not trying.” - Roy T. Bennett
Or as Yoda, the Jedi Master in 1980s “The Empire Strikes Back” tells Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not. There is no try.” While none of us may be Jedi Warriors, we can choose in the New Year to “Do” rather than “try”. And when you do, may the force lead you to unbridled success.
After several decades on-the-radio as a DJ and traffic reporter, Steve Woodburn MAS, stumbled, as most do, into the world of promotional products. He spent 27 years on the distributor side and the last three as a supplier, which gives him a unique perspective on this crazy business and life in general.
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