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The Fallacy of "Trying"

Written by David Davis on March 30, 2014

“Do or do not; there is no try.” Yoda from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Can the word "try" be a bad word? What in the world can be wrong with the word "try"?!?

The definition of "try" is to make an effort, but so often "try" is used as an excuse not to make an effort. "Try" has become a "get out of jail free" card.

  • Sure, I will try to come to your party. (Now you are free to blow it off, since you “tried” to get there.)
  • I promise I will try to get the work done by tomorrow. (Now there is no accountability or predictability about that work—or the worker! The promise was only to try.)
  • I will try harder next time to be better. (This is neither an apology for failing nor a commitment not to fail in the future.)

As leaders we must be dependable. We must be men and women of our word. When we give our word, we must mean it and fulfill it. If we cannot commit to something without using the word try, we should not commit to it! Live by the words “Under promise and over deliver.”

Let's not just make an effort. Let's get things done.

Or as that great philosopher Yoda said, “Do or do not; there is no try.

Rev. David Davis writes a weekly leadership series for new ministers to help them transition from the academic environment to the realities of work. We recently talked about what we learned in school versus what we need to know to do our jobs. We may be subject matter experts, but that does not make use effective.

Here's another one of Pastor Davis' popular post on priority setting, Selective Neglect.

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