June 6

I Tried

June 6, 2011

Personal Growth

I once organized an event that involved dozens of people. I delegated to Bob the task of contacting Charlene to bring tables. He said he would take care of it.

When the day of the event arrived, there were no tables. When I asked Bob what had happened, he said that he couldn't get hold of Charlene. "But I tried," he said.

"How exactly did you try?" I asked.

"I emailed her three times."

"Did you call her?"

"No, I don't know her phone number."

"Do you know any other people who know Charlene?"

"Yeah."

"Did you call any of them to get her number?"

"No."

"When Charlene didn't return your emails, did you find someone else to get the tables?"

"No, but—"

"Did you get the tables yourself?"

"No."

"Then you didn't really try, did you? You just created the illusion in your mind that you tried."

(Let me say that I wouldn't have such a discussion with everyone. I had known Bob for years and served as a wise man for him.)

In "Stars Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back" Yoda gave Luke Skywalker a difficult task to accomplish, and Luke responded, "All right, I'll give it a try."

Yoda said, "No. Try not. Do . . . or do not. There is no try."

In baseball, after hitting the ball, you run as fast as you can to first base. If the infielder throws the ball to the first baseman before you reach the base, you're out. If you say, "But I tried really hard," the umpire doesn't change his call and allow you to stay in play. In soccer, if you kick the ball wide of the goal, they never credit you with a goal because you tried.

I'm not suggesting that if you try hard enough, you'll always succeed. I'm not saying that if you fail, you didn't try hard enough. No accusation or guilt is implied. I AM saying that when we reach a level of effort that is the least bit inconvenient or uncomfortable, we tend to quit and justify ourselves by saying that "we tried."

So what can we do about this? We can recognize that although we don't have to push ourselves to succeed at everything, rarely do we exert ourselves past the point of familiarity, convenience, and comfort. We make excuses too easily, so we stop right at the edge of accomplishment and growth. Growth requires stretching, which unavoidably involves discomfort--pain. I'm not advocating that we live in pain all the time, but if we avoid pain, we cannot learn and grow.

"Try not. Do . . . or do not. There is no try." Make commitments to take the steps that are guaranteed to fill your life with Real Love--both receiving and giving. If you fail at a step, keep at it until you reach that step. Keep doing, and you will fill your life with confidence, love, and peace. Even the doing is only a path to becoming happier.

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