It is not enough today to “do your best” or to “try” or to “make a go of it” because all those phrases indicate you did not set out what you intended to accomplish. In America, “trying” has unfortunately replaced “getting it done” for many of our young people and that is a frightening watershed event in the marking moments of our history as a nation.
I am uncertain when the bright line was crossed between verifiable accomplishment and the “I tried my best” failing effort, but “trying” now incredibly not only equals, but trumps, “finished” for many young people and that is a terrible future sign of international indignation and an impending failure to thrive in the marketplace. There’s no getting around this simple fact: When you set out to do something you either get it done or you do not. There is no in-between. We cannot continue to grade effort on an “A” scale.
Too many parents and teachers teach children under their care that “trying” counts just as much as getting it done and if you “tried your best” that is the same thing as if you actually did what you set out to do. People who “try their best” and succeed don’t ever say, “I tried my best” they say, “I finished.”
Few students learn the difference of that important lesson early enough in their young lives. In the Real World you must produce verifiable results and “trying” to get those results instead of actually getting them gets you nothing other than fired and that is where a great disconnect occurs between the hunger of the employer and the appetite of the employee. Too often that hunger goes unfed because of an untrained appetite. I teach my students the only thing that counts in my class is “getting it done.” They always fight me because they have rarely experienced the black and white demand. They always prefer the fogginess of the grey. Did you finish you paper? “No, but I tried.”
That isn’t good enough.
“But I tried!” Give me your paper. “I didn’t finish it, but I tried!” I quickly extrapolate that attitude into a larger lesson for the entire class. I bluntly ask them all: “What kind of life do you want to have? One where you fill your pattern of behavior with ‘tries’ and ‘almost got theres’ or do you want to be known as the ‘go-to’ person when someone needs something done?” I ask them to leap into their future with me: Did you pay your rent? “No, but I tried.” Did you get the job? “No, but I tried.” Did you graduate from college? “No, but I tried.” People who get it done never have to say “they tried.” They get to say “I did it” instead.
The different is glaring and important to learn. Students quickly see the difference they have never been taught: “Trying” and “Doing Your Best” gets you nothing but a condescending virtual pat on the head and a meaningless “A” for Effort. If you hear those expressions your work ethic has been insulted and you should be offended by your own behavior because you didn’t get the job done. It’s easier to pat you on the head and send you away feeling good about your “effort” than confronting you with the fact you failed.
The next time someone says to you, “Well, you tried your best” you will know you are being mollified and spoon-fed and you are on your way out the door to never having that opportunity again. If you want to find success and have respect in your life, I tell my students, make yourself the “I did it and I’ll do it again and again and again” person and you will never again want for false praise or a pat on the shoulder for trying but failing.
To get beyond “trying” don’t even start with the idea or utter the word. If you are asked to do something, replace “I’ll try” with “I will” and you will be on your way to marking more successes in your life that can be used to create credibility and a stable life built on deeds and not wishes.