One Three-Letter Word You May Want To Rethink, or “There’s No Trying In Life”

by | Change to Goal Achievement & Implementation, Positive Thinking, Self-Leadership Mindset

In honor of the New Year and new intentions, let’s talk about a word we probably all use frequently—it’s a very powerful word, but not in the way you might think.   It’s the word TRY. How often do we use that word in the context of something we are doing, a goal we are setting, an objective we are reaching for?  It’s hard to even write that last sentence without using “try,” as in “something we are trying to do, an objective we are trying to achieve.”

“Try” has become part of our vocabulary, but it limits our abilities to focus on a goal and commit completely to achieving something. As a way to illustrate this, let’s do a quick activity.  If you are sitting down, stand up.  Are you standing?  Now … try to sit back down.  No, don’t sit down, TRY to sit down.  How did that work?  What do you notice?   The bottom line:  You can’t try to sit down – you either sit down or you don’t.

Is that same principle not also true of goals or something we set our minds to – that we either do them or we don’t? We either accomplish or don’t accomplish what we set out to do.  In a take-off from what Tom Hanks said in the movie League of Our Own, “there’s no trying in life.”  (Well, he actually said, “there’s no crying in baseball,” but you get the point!)

The point is that you can’t try to achieve whatever you set out to achieve – ultimately, you either achieve it or you don’t.  Consider how often we either hear others say “try” or we say “try” ourselves.   How much more powerful and accomplished might we be if we took that pesky three-letter word out of our vocabulary?  Here are some examples across a wide spectrum of areas:

  • Your kids: from “Yes, Mom, I’ll try to get my homework done before dinner,” … to … “Yes, Mom, I’ll get my homework done before dinner.”
  • In a meeting at your workplace: from “I’ll try to talk with them about the project,” … to … “I’ll talk with them about the project.”
  • With your wife/husband/significant other: from “Let’s try to spend more time together on the weekends,” … to … “Let’s spend more time together on the weekends.”
  • In your life: from “I’m trying to exercise three times a week,” … to … “I am exercising three times a week.”

Do you notice the difference in how the statements above sound when the word try is in them or not in them?

So, here is your challenge: For the next week, don’t just try to do whatever you are focused on – do it without the “try” in your sentence.  Catch others in the act too – have them try to sit down to illustrate your point.  And as always, let me know how it goes!

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


She can be reached at:

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