This year … I resolve … to TRY!

I used to describe myself as a DOER. I got stuff done. And I liked getting stuff done.

I used to be suspicious of TRY. To me, TRY was what you said when you were being nice but didn’t really intend to make it happen. For all intents and purposes, TRYing was synonymous with LYing!

When a project in my past went off the rails — overtime, over-budget — and the leaders told me quite sincerely that they were going to try again — I lost it.

I ranted. I preached. I talked loudly. I sent emails. I fumed.

I didn’t want those leaders to TRY … I wanted them to DO! Money was on the line. Jobs were on the line. I wanted them to channel Nike and “Just DO It!”

It wasn’t until a long time later when I read an article about Jadav “Molai” Payeng that I began to see my error.

In 1979, there was a barren sandbar created by flooding near his home in Assam, India. The forest department told him that nothing would grow there, except maybe bamboo.

He wanted a forest, so he took on the challenge, and tried. Every morning he would stop and stick a bamboo shoot in the ground, and drop a few red ants that he had gathered from home.

He found the work painful, but he did it. There was nobody to help. Nobody was interested.

Fast forward 30+ years and Payeng has singlehandedly planted a 1,360-acre forest containing variety of flora and fauna, now including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal tiger.

This story showed me that my problem wasn’t the word TRY. After all, Payeng succeeded by TRYing.

It was the attitude. When those leaders in my past said they would TRY, they really meant they would just go through the motions again, ticking boxes, dotting I’s, crossing T’s. But they didn’t really believe.

Anyone with that attitude, regardless of the word, is indeed LYing.

I now believe that it is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result that is LYing (some say this is also the definition of insanity).

On the other hand, trying, and being willing to try harder, and being willing to try differently, and being willing to persevere, is never lying in my book.

I now see myself as a trier because I realize that was an essential part of my past focus. It is only because I tried hard and tried often and tried everything I could think of and everything anyone I could find to ask thought of is the real reason I got stuff done.

As I now see it, DO is canned and bounded. In order to do, I must already know how. I just need to put my blinders on and drive forward to the end.

On the other hand, TRY is open ended. It is liquid and adaptable. It doesn’t assume anything.

The key to TRYing is to get into the arena and get on with it.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Theodore Roosevelt

The credit belongs to the ones in the ring trying.

This year … I resolve … to TRY!

I am Douglas Fast, Founder and Principal of Dark Water Tek, a consultancy through which I provide guidance to clients on how to successfully commercialize their product ideas. My primary focus is in working with teams to develop clear goals and realistic plans, and helping them with (most importantly) relentless execution. I have particular expertise in the IoT | Mobile | Data-driven | Networked | Video markets. Check out more posts on my blog at Dark Water Tek.

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