The Difference Between Trying and Doing

There’s an instructive scene in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda is instructing Luke Skywalker in how to use the Force. He asks Luke to retrieve his disabled spaceship out of a bog where it has sunk, using only his mind.

Luke, of course, thinks this is impossible. Sure, he has been able to move stones around this way. But a spaceship? That’s completely different. Or is it.

Yoda patiently explains that it is only different in his mind. Luke reluctantly agrees to “give it a try.”

Yoda famously says, “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.“

Recently, I watched Tony Robbins [Warning: rough language] give similar advice to a woman who was struggling in her marriage. She stood up in one of his seminars to ask a question. She complained that she had “tried everything” to improve her relationship with her husband but nothing had changed.

Tony went on to make a distinction that I think is vitally important. He asked the woman to try to pick up the chair she was sitting in. She turned around and picked up the chair.

Tony said, “No, you picked it up. I said try to pick it up.”

The woman looked confused. Tony reiterated, “Try to pick it up.” The woman just stood there, not knowing what to do.

Tony continued, “No, now you’re not picking it up. I said try to pick it up.” Again, she picked up the chair.

Again, Tony, said, “No, you picked up the chair. I asked you to try and pick it up. You either pick it up, you don’t pick it up, or you try to pick it up.”

The point is that when we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we want.

Do you understand the difference? You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

Where are you trying to improve?

  • Are you trying to get in shape or are you getting in shape.
  • Are you trying to improve your marriage or are improving your marriage.
  • Are you trying to make more sales calls or are you making more sales calls.

This may sound like a small distinction, but it has huge ramifications.

Maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it. Here are three suggestions:

  1. Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. It is a worthless word that accomplishes nothing. It only makes you feel better when you fail.
  2. Decide either to do or not do. If you don’t want to do something fine. Don’t do it. But don’t pretend that trying is the same as doing. They are two completely different postures.
  3. Commit 100 percent to the outcome you want. Like the project manager in Apollo 13 said, “Failure is not an option.” Play full out. Go for the win. Don’t settle for merely trying.

As Yoda suggested to Luke, the difference may only be in your mind, but it has a dramatic impact on the outcome of whatever you set out to do.

Question: Where have you been trying instead of doing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Geoff Snyder

    This is something I’ve been doing for several years now. I have almost completely eliminated the word “try” from my vocabulary. It’s nice to see this post, Michael… thank you for sharing this! 

    • Ben Patterson

      I think I will try to do this as well :)

      • Anonymous

        Great line.

      • Wes Roberts

        …as only Mr. Patterson would even dare to try and say it.  :-)  That brought a smile to this Monday!

        • Ben Patterson

          Thanks, Wes!

      • Brandon


    • Brandon

      Great advice. I have tried to do this myself.

      • Brandon

        See…tried! :)

  • TowelTroi

    Trying to get back to writing.

    • Joe Lalonde

      So, get back to it (-;

  • Joe Abraham

    This post helps me think about being more committed to what I should do than choosing to ‘try’. “You either do something or you don’t do it” – that’s a succinct statement worth heeding! Thanks Michael.

    • Brandon

      Very true!

  • Chris Patton

    This reminds me of the comment from Bob Holmes on your post from the 25th (One Essential Habit of Every Effective Leader).

    ” Two frogs are sitting on a lily pad. One frog decides to jump in.  So, how many frogs are left on the lily pad?  
    The answer is two.  Because making a decision, isn’t the same thing as acting on it.”

    Deciding to and trying to appear the same – like you are doing nothing.

    I am guilty of this at times and I must break this pattern!  Thanks for the accountability!

    • Dave Hearn

      Good point!  I’m going to use that one…

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love that metaphor. Very relevant here. Thanks.

    • Kelly Combs

      Andy Andrews uses a similar metaphor in his book, The Noticer, only it is seagulls on a dock, instead of frogs.  It changed my way of thinking.  

    • Sundi Jo Graham

      Thanks for the reminder of that. 

    • Brandon

      Great analogy! Thanks for sharing!

  • Patricia Zell

    I use this concept a lot with my students all the time–whenever they say they’ll try to do something, I always reply, “Don’t try–just do it!” Personally, whenever I have something to accomplish or want something to happen, I have the mindset that I will give all of my effort to the goal. That way, if the goal ends up not being met, it won’t be because I didn’t do my part. I’ve accomplished a whole lot more than I ever thought possible by giving my effort and doing what needed to be done. And, as far as the goals that I still want to accomplish go, I’m believing God for time and open doors. 

  • Craig Jarrow

    Love this post, and the Tony Robbins lesson.

    This applies to all areas of life…

    …many people try to write a book, authors do.

    …many people try to start a business, entrepreneurs do.

    …many people try to win, winners do what it takes.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I like your additional examples. Excellent!

    • Brandon Weldy

      I’m reading The Barefoot Executive and she discusses making that mind change. She said she had to start thinking about herself as an entrepreneur, or as a thinner person, or whatever else she hoped to accomplish. When she did that, she quit trying and did it because as an entrepreneur that’s what she does. 

      • Michael Hyatt

        This is a great example. Perfect! Thanks.

    • Sundi Jo Graham

      Wow Craig! That’s a great list.. Thanks for the reminder. 

  • Timothy Fish

    As much as I like that scene from Star Wars, when you brought in the scene from Tony Robbins it really made it clear to me that people who are making a big deal about try versus do are just being irritating. When I think about it, those who try are probably better off than those who only do. Those who try are risk takers, willing to try to do things they aren’t sure they can do. If they fail, there is always a second chance. They can always try again. If you do, but something causes you to do not, then you’ve failed and there is no second chance.

    • Barry Hill

      Timothy, I am with you 100%! I think there is a big difference between inaction and “trying” to do something that is risky, or you may need a couple of passes at it to get it right! I am often “trying” towards big goals that need a certain measure of “forward failing” in order to get that right! I think Michael would agree with us since he has many posts about learning form failure and trying to reach big goals.

      • Michael Hyatt

        I am not opposed to trying when you aren’t certain you are ready to commit. I may try working on the elliptical machine, for example, to see if that is a good cross-training option for me. But I think that is a different connotation of the word.
        When I approach something I really want to accomplish, I don’t cut myself any slack. I am going all-out. I will do, not try. But if I fail, that is fine. That’s a completely different posture. I can always learn from failure.
        Put this in a marriage context. I tell couples who are married, “Divorce is not an option. You must make this work.” I don’t cut them any slack either (unless there is infidelity or abuse). But if I am speaking to people who are divorced, I say, “Your life is not over. There is grace and forgiveness. You can learn from this and grow.”
        Hope that helps.

        • Barry Hill

          Yes, I get it. It’s a good mind set. Sometimes I use the word try because I am “trying” to do too many things. I need to focus on fewer things and DO them well.

        • Anonymous

          I’ve experienced the failure of a marriage, to which I was completely committed to doing everything I could to make it work.  Yet it ended in divorce.

          From that experience I have learned to view life more from the perspective of The Serenity Prayer.  The things over which I have control, I should do, with God’s help.  The things over which I have no control, I should accept, with God’s help.

          With God’s help, I have control over my own attitudes and actions.

          I have no control over other people’s choices.

    • Cimmerian35

      No, you’re still doing it. You fail when you give up. Maybe you didn’t succeed in the time you expected, you are still doing it. Unless you give up.

    • Victor Sinclair

      My point exactly Tim.  It makes it an either or scenario.   Perhaps just a little to simple, as in my comment, Tony didn’t has her to do something that was in doubt like stacking 100 chairs in five minutes.  In this scenario perhaps we lower the bar and only get people to commit to easy for sure doable things like lifting a chair and not the unsure uncertain outcome of stacking 100 in five minutes.  

  • Joe Lalonde

    Excellent message Michael!

    “Do or do not, there is no try” has been one of my favorite lines from Star Wars.

    • Brandon Weldy

      A couple weeks ago I read a facebook status with this quote, then last week I read it in a book, and now this post. It is time to do some searching in my life to see if I keep getting this message for a reason!

      • Joe Lalonde

        It is always amazing how God will use a simple quote to get us to listen. Sometimes it is used over and over until we get it.

        Hope you’re able to quickly discern where this issue is happening in your life!

  • Ben Patterson

    Wow. My vocabulary has been updated!

    I’ve been trying to connect with a few old friends on the phone. But we haven’t talked in months. I’d better DO something about that.

    You’re right. It’s easier to say, “We tried!”

    • Brandon Weldy

      I like how you said “my vocabulary has been updated!” You did not say you would try to get rid of that word. Instead as of now it is gone. Way to take action!

      • Ben Patterson

        Still taking action today!

  • Cyberquill

    Almost 20 years ago, I took a method acting workshop. During one of the classes the teacher tossed a pen on the floor and asked a student to try and pick it up.

    The student picked it up. 

    The teacher reminded him that he hadn’t told him to pick it up but to try and pick it up. 

    So he tossed the pen back on the floor, and now the student mimed something along the lines of the pen being too heavy to pick up, and it looked rather awkward. 

    The lesson, of course, having been that one could either do something or try doing it, i.e., not doing it. 

    I thought this was brilliant, so from then on every time someone said “try,” I explained that trying equaled not doing. 

    But then, when I myself slipped up and used “try,” the lecture sometimes came back right into my face, delivered by my interlocutor. 

    Eventually, the do/try distinction began to get on my nerves, and I stopped with it. 

    Besides, it looks silly when there’s a competition of some sort that only one person can win and all participants insist that they “will” win it.  

    I think trying is fine. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Another distinction: Not everyone who thinks they will win does. But no one who only tries will.

      • Cyberquill

        Yeah, but now leave out the “only.”

      • Anonymous

        Michael, forgive me, but this just does not make sense.  I agree that excuses for inaction and procrastination are ineffective.

        However, to say “there is not try, either do or don’t do” leaves us with absolutely no word to describe someone having given their absolute best effort, yet fallen short of their goal.

        It is a reality.  It happens.  And the higher a goal we set the more likely we may fall short despite our best effort.

        That is called trying! 

        • Michael Hyatt

          No, I respectfully disagree. I call it failing. And that is fine. You can always learn and grow from failure. Failure is never final unless you quit.

          • Anonymous

            No, I respectfully disagree.   

            To have not tried; to have given up before following thru to the final conclusion of best efforts would have been to fail.

            To put forth honest best effort in hope and faith, with prayer and hard work…that is not failure.  That is fighting the good fight, which leads to learning and growing.

          • Michael

             I had this conversation many times, and so far I have not succeed in explaining this to anyone so that they really can grasp what trying indicates.

            Trying is the space in between the do or do not, where the outcome is not yet known.There also seems to be a reference to two different aspects, where the person who is limited to the only 2 options of do or do not is refering to the completion of a certain action.The trying refers to a process of acting out a goal, congruent with the intentions of the person. So, are you able to, making the attempt, in the process …..are all very real until you can define your success.Love the comments thank you all, these are my 2 cents, keep sharing!

          • Barry Hill

            I just like how you opened that, “trying is the space in between the do or the do not.” Really great!

          • JosephPote

            “Trying is the space in between the do or do not, where the outcome is not yet known.”

            Well put!

            When I wake my 11-year-old child in the morning, and tell him it is time to get up, he often responds, “I’m trying.”

            My response is, “No, you’re not trying.  You make be considering it, but you have not yet made any effort to get out of bed.  I know this, because I know you are quite capable of achieving that goal with little effort.”

            So, the distinction, in that case, is not of “trying” versus “doing”, but rather of “trying” versus “not trying.”

    • Jaclyn Franklin Ley

      Wow!  This is wonderful!  I have been trying to quit biting my fingernails for years.  It is a hard habit to break.  My husband can’t stand it.  I am always telling him I am trying, as I keep doing it five seconds after he mentions it.  I obviously wasn’t trying that hard.  I wasn’t doing.  This makes it so easy to understand.  I am going to do it!

  • Eileen


  • Eric S. Mueller

    Another blogger I like to read, Ramit Sethi, calls words like “should” “loser language”. Try would fit that label too. Whenever somebody uses words like should or try, it usually means they won’t.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Exactly. It is self-sabatoging behavior.

  • Randafish

    In context, isn’t Yodo teaching Skywalker to believe in the ability to accomplish the impossible? It seems that the word try is not an altogether bad word, but one that needs redefined.  In believing, one moves past mere words into the realm of action.  Trying still denotes action.  It’s required by mere nature in that it’s a verb.  To not try is to not act.  To try is to move in a direction that could have possible good results. Yodo wants Luke to move past just trying (doing actions for the sake of doing them) to a realm of believing the impossible is tangible and real. I agree that if I use the word try without actions, I’m and unbeliever.  If Tony asked her to try and pick up the chair while she remained sitting in it, that would have been a curious endeavor.  Would she have “tried” or just sat in her seat? 

    • Scott Edwards

      “It seems that the word try is not an altogether bad word, but one that needs redefining”. Bingo. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment in this post but this Randafish’s comment also rings true.  Beyond the rah-rah, motivating inspiration of Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try”, I feel it is lacking.  There is absolutely “try” in this life. Trying is absolutely necessary but far from sufficient. Action is the key. Michael has mentioned this many times in previously posts. If “trying” is a crutch for not acting, then yes, trying certainly will lead down the path to loserville.  If “trying” is the first of many steps on the path to doing, then that is the beginning to the path of success.  I used to not be a runner.  But I decided to give it a “try”. My first run was half a block. I felt winded but also felt good for achieving a goal (albeit a small one).  So I decided to try again for a longer distance, a longer one after that, and so on.  Now running is a regular part of my routine.  And I contend it started with me giving it a try.  Perhaps this comes down to semantics and you could say there was no trying in what I did, it was all “doing” from the start.  Fair enough.  The better word is ACTION. Trying as a word you say only, not good. Trying with honest effort AND actual start of “doing”, that is good.  I guess I’ve always thought of trying as an action. Great reminder that trying can also and VERY easily lead to non-action.  Thanks Michael.

  • Brad Bridges

    More often than not, what we “try” to do, we really don’t intend to do or carry out. What we actually “do”, is what we are truly passionate about or committed to. 

    • Ben Patterson


  • Joe

    Mike, thank you. Needed a good swift one this morning. I’ve been doing a lot of trying lately. Like trying to write a life plan. Like trying to accomplish certain projects.

  • Dave Hearn

    I had this same idea for a blog post, including using the Star Wars reference… 

    I guess I should have done it, instead of simply trying!

    Guilty as charged.

    Thanks Michael

  • Anonymous

    Michael, thanks for writing this today.  I am guilty of saying that I’m trying about a lot of things.  This is a reminder that I’m really doing nothing but making an excuse.  It’s time to act on this week.  A great way to start a Monday morning.

  • michael smith

    May I get permission to use your post on Twitter for my newspapers students?
    Michael Ray Smith

    • Michael Hyatt

      If you mean that you just want to link to it, absolutely! Thanks.

  • Kelly Combs

    This post reminds me of a story in Andy Andrews’ book, “The Noticer.”  He says something similar and it really changed my way of thinking. Thoughts do affect beliefs, and beliefs affect our actions.  

    I really like this poem, by Walter Wintle, from approximately 1905, that shares a similar perspective. It is entitled Thinking.

    If you think you are beaten, you are
    If you think you dare not, you don’t,
    If you like to win, but you think you can’t
    It is almost certain you won’t.

    If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
    For out of the world we find,
    Success begins with a fellow’s will
    It’s all in the state of mind.

    f you think you are outclassed, you are
    You’ve got to think high to rise,
    You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
    You can ever win a prize.

    Life’s battles don’t always go
    To the stronger or faster man,
    But soon or late the man who wins
    Is the man who thinks he can.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love that poem. Very powerful. I am clipping it into Evernote now! Thanks.

  • Leah Adams

    Ouch! Guilty! Especially in regard to writing. Dave Barry once said that he writes at least 2 hours every day…even if he only gets one sentence or paragraph, he puts in the time. As he puts in the time, inspirations comes easier. I need to not wait for inspiration, I need to just do it. Write some every day. Thanks for a great post, Mr. Hyatt.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree with Dave Berry. He is right. (And VERY funny!)

  • Gay Bates

    Thank you for adding credibility to a saying I have used for years. “Trying is an excuse to fail.” I coached competitive cheerleading, am a middle school teacher and mother. This phrase has been spoken into young lives by me in each arena and met with criticism. I stand by it and appreciate your words!

    Thank you!!

  • Andy Janning

    Fantastic post! I’m writing a book called “Yoda Never Used PowerPoint” that uses this and many other famous movie scenes to illustrate the best ways to train and develop people at work. 

    This interaction between Yoda and Luke has kept me focused and inspired during a long season of submitting proposals (and yes, I bought your e-book on the subject – very useful!).  

    And like Yoda says at the very end of the scene, once he has guided Luke’s ship safely back to land, it’s our shortage of belief – instead of a lack of ability – that usually separates us from success.

  • John Richardson

    Interesting topic, Michael. In the examples you used, it was obvious that the person could do the action ie: the woman could physically lift the chair. But what if the chair was actually too heavy to lift. If the woman tried to lift the chair, she would fail. She might get half of it off the ground, but she would not be able to “do” the action. In this case she would have tried and failed. We all face things like this in our lives all the time. We don’t know that we can’t do something until we try.

    Obviously, trying can be an excuse, but it can also be a valid point.

    Trying is better than not trying. It lets us know our limits and gives us ways to strategize and overcome the problem in the future.

    • Kelly Combs

      Good point, John. However I think alot of us use try to avoid failure.  “Well, I didn’t say I would, only that I’d try.”  Obviously we will all fail at a variety of things, but saying “I DID my best,” is better than just trying.  Semantics?   Perhaps. I think you’re last paragraph sums it up well.  Thanks.

      • John Richardson

        Try is one of those irritating excuse words that lets a lot of people off the hook. I like your example of “I did my best,” instead. Semantics is definitely a problem here…

  • Gemma KM

    Excellent post and a real motivator for me today, I have found myself trying to do a lot of things recently, many of which I could just do, brilliant! thanks

  • Jeff Goins

    One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite Jedi masters. :)

  • Beth Vogt

    I’ve been trying to get a better handle on social media so that I market my debut novel well.
    ‘Nuff said. 

    • Brad Bridges

      How do you plan to go from trying to actually doing it? What obstacles are usually in your way? Answering these two questions usually helps me take giant leaps forward when I find myself trying rather than doing. 

  • Dan Steer

    I’ve been trying to quit drinking Coca-Cola. Think I’ll just drop it.

    Nice blog! Thx,

  • Burl Walker

    This is probably the best post you have ever had! I realize that is my opinion, and it may not be the majority. From me to you…thanks! Great post Michael! Getting rid of “try”…is that something we should “try to do” or just do? LOL Have an awesome day!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Burl. I appreciate that!

  • Cathryn Hasek

    Prayed this morning for wisdom on a decision I need ot make.  I had just read 1 John 4:4 as my scripture verse of the day before I read this post…wow!  God is definately telling me to “get on with things and have no fear, have faith!”

  • Peter Schmidt

    Very much down to the point! 
    Thanks for sharing that little story with us, Michael.

  • Chuck

    I agree if “trying” doesn’t really mean doing anything. However, when we say we “try”, don’t we sometimes/often mean that we’re doing something, but we aren’t seeing the results we thought we would? Sometimes the problem is probably commitment, but what about the circumstances/people who are totally committed, but are still frustrated at their lack of progress? Encouraging people to commit to valuable outcomes seems worthwhile, but I think only applies to a subset of circumstances and people. We also frequently need encouragement, strength, new information and wisdom to help us. Isn’t that often where God, often using other people, helps us?

    • Michael Hyatt

      This might apply in a handful of circumstances. But I find that “trying” usually means, “I’m doing just enough to avoid criticism or blame, but I’m not doing enough to succeed.”
      For example, I had a friend who was going through a divorce this past summer after having an affair. Her husband decided to divorce her. She told her friends she was trying to save her marriage. She was, in fact, doing a few things. But it was half-hearted.
      All of her friends—and her husband—saw right through it. She was trying not doing. Her husband went through with the divorce, but his wife really didn’t have a commitment to change. She just wanted an excuse.
      That’s the kind of thing I am talking about. Thanks.

  • Geoff Webb

    Actually had my Army instructor pilot use this with me during my initial flight training in Bosnia. He asked me to execute a maneuver, I said I’d give it a try—and he seized the controls, landed the helicopter and asked me if I knew the Yoda Principle? Being a fan, I immediately knew what he meant.

    I think the key to living this out is found in the last few lines of the scene (spoiler alert!):

    After Luke fails to lift the ship out of the bog using the Force, Yoda does it and Luke, marveling at what the little Yoda has just accomplished, mutters, “I…I don’t believe it!”

    Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love that part of the scene. It deserves a whole post. If t hasn’t been done already, someone needs to write a book: Yoda on Leadership or Yoda on Success.

      • Andy Janning

        I’m writing a book called “Yoda Never Used PowerPoint”, a book on how best practices in training are embodied by Yoda and a whole host of famous movie characters. Does that count?

        • Michael Hyatt

          Yes, I’d say that counts!

  • Brett

    I’ve been ‘trying’ to be more diligent in prospecting and run into little reasons (better known as excuses) like ‘I need to research this org more or I need to revamp my value statement for this org’, etc.  I just need to pick up the phone or write the letter and start. I won’t know what to change if I never experiment by doing.

    I love the quote from Star Wars and Robbins’ example with that lady. Yet, if that chair was a 100 lb recliner, she would have tried and might not have succeeded. There is a possibility that moving on is a 4th option if there was honest, good faith work into doing.

    One more… I always laugh at sports fans who say their team ‘should have won.’  If only for a bad foul call or a turnover that ‘shouldn’t have’ happened. I’d add removing ‘should have’ along with ‘try’.

    • Cheri Gregory

      Brett — 

      I was just thinking along the same lines. In Tony’s example, the woman DID try, which was evidenced by her success. To say she didn’t try — she “only” picked up the chair — misses the fact that her efforts produced the success.

      If, as in your example, she had struggled to pick up a chair too heavy for her, trying would have produced “failure.” 

      But in neither case could “trying” be equated with doing nothing…or even as little as possible.

      We’re playing with various meanings for “try,” which is a great way to explore what we each mean by the word and to be alert to its ambiguity in personal and business conversations.

      I’m going to start tracking when and why I say “I’ll try”…as well as the results!

      • Brett

        I thought of something reading your reply: If I hear myself using the phrase ‘I tried’ (or it’s variations), then I should at least pause and ask myself: (a) Was it a matter of doing or not doing? (b) Was it effort that was unsuccessful? (c) If it was honest, yet unsuccessful effort, then what can I learn or what new habits do I need to succeed or do better next time?

  • Daren Sirbough

    Wow this has definitely been an insightful blog post for me personally. Trying is a part of my vocabulary at times during practice. I give some things a half-arsed effort when I cannot be bothered to fully commit. After this years practice routines I have learned that lesson of Doing instead of Trying. I can learn to improve in my Relationships. Instead of trying to make them rich, just make them rich. Same thing goes with my Piano playing and my Worship Leading.

  • Ricky Lewis

    This is great! I needed this. I’m preparing for a talk this coming week and this will help me make my point.

    I have seen in my own life how the idea that “it is only in your mind” can literally cripple a person, in this case me. However, once I saw that God was big enough to do more with me the healing began. I see amazing parallel to “The Force” and how much greater is God’s impact in helping us accomplish the impossible. I like this commercial that to me depicts that as well.

    Without his dad he couldn’t have started the car. Thanks Michael.

  • Eric Connor

    great post…and encouraging because I actually did post something along the same lines

    so I guess great minds think alike!  :-)

    Since then my only caveat is this – sometimes we really do need to give up.  To be sure it is the exception…but sometimes people can beat their heads trying to do something that in all honestly is not going to happen.  

    There is a balance (and a wisdom) in knowing what you are not fully committing to and also knowing when it’s time to through in the towel.

    For example, if in a marriage the partner is unhealthy and not willing to work on him/herself but you are “committed” to improving the marriage…well, good luck.  Probably not going to happen.

    I think God needs to play into this as well…is this something that is part of God’s will for you or does this desire come from selfishness, personal fear or ego?  If you are attempting something of the latter group the road could be very difficult.

    thanks for the post…definitely gets me thinking.

    • Cheri Gregory

      “For example, if in a marriage the partner is unhealthy and not willing to work on him/herself but you are “committed” to improving the marriage…well, good luck.  Probably not going to happen.”

      When one partner changes, the entire marriage changes. I’m not saying it becomes perfect or ideal. But failing to act on my “commitment” just because I’ve determined that my partner is the unhealthy, unwilling one seems dangerously close to “trying.”

      • Eric Connor

        This is a good point Cheri…I agree with it.  I’ve seen lots of marriages transform when one partner changes in a significant way through counseling, 12 step groups, etc.

        I never advocate giving up…my point was only that sometimes other parties involved (and spouses) play a big role – and if their level of health/commitment is the opposite of yours it could drastically affect the outcome.

      • Michael Hyatt

        I agree. Sometimes, all a marriage needs is for one partner to take the initiative to change. I know there are probably exceptions, but in my experience, the biggest problem is that neither partner will change!

        • Anonymous

          Yes, many times that is the case.  And yes, there are many exceptions.

  • Rob Sorbo

    I’m DOING weight loss right now–about 15 pounds down. I’m not quite sure what my goal weight is, but I still have a long way to go.

    Great post. Would “I’m making an effort to _____” be a suitable alternative to “try?”

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think “making an effort to” is a synonym for “try.” Why not just use the verb and cut this out all together?

  • Rick Barry

    Very Forcefully stated, Michael. Good points!

  • Anonymous

    Love the post. Thanks!  As a success coach, it makes me think about how if one starts with this truth that you will get real very quickly. I had a block over making ‘em sales calls… it is so easy to convince yourself that you are doing something when you are “thinking” about it. Without action, nothing is ever achieved. I love the quote “even God can’t steer a parked car!” Thanks again! ~Crystal

  • Don McAllister

    Yoda’s advice is timely and perfect. Great post!

  • Struggling

    Michael, you make an excellent point – truthfully “trying” is not doing.  But for those of us who have a lifetime of  trying “failures” – or lack of success – in a particular area (a stronghold, for example)  Yoda’s advice can be seen as a judgement. If you carry years of failure on your back then the Star Wars advice is in my opinion, disingenuous – how does a person get from a place of hopelessness, to a place of hope – when the act of trying itself is a monumental undertaking?  Or, to your third point, how does someone commit 100% to the outcome they want, when they’ve only experienced failure in the past. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      What I am suggesting is really a shift in your language. I think the use of “try” can often result in self-sabatoge.
      What’s the worst that can happen if you say you are going to do something and fail? Right. You fail. That is different than never really committing and simply trying. I’d rather go for it, not give myself any wiggle room, and then deal with failure if it happens.
      I have failed hundreds of times. Several times it was significant. But failure is never final unless you quit. I see it as one more opportunity to learn and grow.

      • Jenna Jeske

        I love how you said, “failure is never final unless you quit.”  This reminds me of the well-known poem, “Don’t Quit.”

        When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
        When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
        When the funds are low and the debts are high,
        And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
        When care is pressing you down a bit–
        Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

        Life is queer with its twists and turns,
        As every one of us sometimes learns,
        and many a person turns about
        When they might have won had they stuck it out.
        Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
        You may succeed with another blow.

        Often the struggler has given up
        When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
        And he learned too late
        when the night came down,
        How close he was to the golden crown.

        Success is failure turned inside out–
        So stick to the fight with your hardest hit,
        It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

        – Anonymous

  • Jack Lynady

    Great read Michael. Kinda like “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path”. Who knows what Sci-fi movie that is from?

  • Cheri Gregory

    I hadn’t realized that “try” can be such an ambiguous word until reading this post and comments!

    I’m sitting here in my running clothes, having not run in two weeks, and I’m planning to try to run 60% of the 3 miles that I WILL go outside and traverse. But I’m leaving myself open to the possibility that I may be able to run more than or I may need to run less, based on how my body responds to the shock of starting back into exercise. 

    However, yesterday I told someone, “I’ll planning to try to make it in January.” When I got off the phone, I realized I was simply delaying the inevitable. In this case, “planning to try” means I’m not  going to make it happen. I need to just be honest and say, “January isn’t going to happen for me.”

  • Alan Kay


    Love it! Years ago I took the word ‘hope’ out of my vocabulary, so taking ‘try’ out won’t take much effort as I seldom use it anyway.

    That said, not everyone can easily embrace
    ‘do’! We all learn and act differently. So, how can we help them get there?

    The Apollo 13 reminder, ‘failure is not an
    option’ is a good reminder because it raises the question of what we define as
    failure. In Apollo 13’s case there was only one option – it was free of

    In an increasingly complex world we have to not
    only define success, but think more about what we mean by failure. However, I
    suspect the reason why some only ‘try’ is that they load up their goals and
    efforts with doubts, or as I label it, problem focus. So, they hesitate by
    thinking of failure and don’t ‘do’.

    If we better understand the likely failure (and,
    most importantly what success looks like), and stop being worried about it we
    will have reasons for being Nike-like and just to go do it. 

    I sometimes have my clients look at what failure
    looks like (the unhelpful and much over-used SWOT analysis is a fine way to do that), and then
    ask them to look at what they will do instead of each of the parts of possible failure.
    Suddenly, there is less thinking about trying and loads of doing (in small
    steps, but that’s another topic). 


  • Brandon Weldy

    For a while I would tell people I would  “try” to do different things. Deep down I knew it was because I did not want to put the effort forward. After I saw how it hurt others and that I really was accomplishing nothing I decided to stop. Since then I have made the distinction and have decided to do. I’m done trying, it doesn’t work. I’m changing myself in weight (I’ve lost almost 10lbs), and in attitude. Once I made the decision to actually do something, it changed everything. 

  • Dennis Disney

    Thanks for the swift kick in the arse, Mike. I needed it.

  • Theron Mathis


    As a Star Wars geek, I am impressed that you worked Yoda into a post.  

    The message is great as well.  My wife says this to our boys all the time.  

    May the Force be with you ;-)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love Star Wars! I was just hoping I got the details right. I knew some geeks would be reading! Thanks.

      • Jeff Randleman

        Ahh… My brother would have loved you for this post alone.  He was the biggest Star Wars fan/geek I’ve ever seen…

  • Paul Hughes

    There is certainly something valuable here, but when it’s presented as a universal, it is just a pain in the ass.  Before babies walk, they try to walk.  OK, we could say, “Hey kid, you’re not ‘trying’ — you’re just failing.”  But for some strange reason we don’t.

    If the woman had said, “I’ve done everything” or “I’ve done everything and failed” would Mr. Robbins have stopped hectoring her?  Of course not.  And maybe he shouldn’t. But I am certain that while the “try” distinction is useful in a “C’mon team! Let’s give 110%!!” sort of way, it’s not nearly as applicable as you make out — and it takes no account of if one is actually unable, or thwarted by long-formed internal habits, or broken-down, or …

    Yes, if Jesus had said, “Stretch out your hand,” and the guy had said, “Whattayou talkin’ about? It’s withered and lame?!” Jesus might well have said, “Fine then. Don’t do it.” But we’re pretty sure by now that the will is not the only player in this match, right?

  • Ryan Hanley

    I hate the word “Try” but I use it all the time and as soon as it comes out of my mouth I know it’s a lie…

    I think a good first step to getting past “Try” is owning not completing something.  

    You didn’t lose the ten pounds you said you would.  OWN IT… 

    You didn’t hit your sales goals… OWN IT…

    Feel whats it’s like to say “I Failed…”  Take the feeling, bottle it up and use it as fuel to ensure you never have to say “I Failed” again.

    Great Topic… Thanks Michael!

    Ryan H.

  • Steve Morgan

    Thanks Michael.  Looks like a good post.  I’ll try to read it sometime. :)  Met Larry Downs at the Christian EXPO in Mexico City last month.

  • Gallowayesther

    What an insight. Thanks for this article. Its a food for thought.

  • Ddonjacks

    This is an awesome shift in thinking. Doing and not achieving the results you intended is one thing. Intending to do something and not doing it is trying (in-action) and not acceptable in the persuit of your goals. Thank you Yoda!

  • Anonymous

    This scene is the reason why Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie of all time.  I love this post.  I looked up the word “try” a few years ago and it is the same root word as the word “trial” it means to test or to prove out.  We’ve taken it completely out of context and deceive ourselves into thinking we are doing.  

    Eliminating the word ‘try’ from my vocabulary, slows me down enough to make solid decisions to do or not to do. I make much stronger commitments. Thanks for posting. 

  • Sundi Jo Graham

    Convicting post. I’ve been “trying” to focus on 4:8 thoughts this past week instead of just doing it. I will get rid of that word in my vocabulary. Thanks.

  • TCAvey

    Great post, powerful words! 
    I think I have been giving it my all on getting an agent in order to get my book published, but I am going to take your advice and eliminate ‘try’ from my vocabulary.  With God’s help, I am going to get my book published!  

  • CynthiaKayWade

    Exceptionally insightful post.  Indeed failure is a better option than trying because there are real lessons in failure that can provide knowledge that will allow for the doing.  Thanks sharing.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I agree. I don’t mind failing. This sometimes happen when you choose to “do.” But there is no real failure in trying. It’s that middle ground between doing and not doing where you don’t really learn or grow.

  • Usapunk

    All I know is that Michael had me at “Yoda”. 

  • William J Spencer IV

    I use this in regards to patience vs. waiting.  Waiting is doing nothing and patience is actively improving to reach your goal.

  • Sutton Parks

    Excellent post, it hits me dead on.  I try everything, that way it’s not my fault when I fail; at least I tried.  Trying has not been very good to me.  I never looked at it as just a mental shift.  That, I can do.  Thanks for the message Michael!

  • KatieMc

    Michael, I love this post! I’m “trying” to trust God. I’ll ditch the trying and just do it. :-)  

  • Frank Chimento

    Good stuff. Spent many years in the Robbins camp. Have used this illustration for almost a decade except replaced the chair with “trying to take this pen out of my hand.”

    What I have found most interesting is in how often the expected outcome is achieved… the moment people refuse to quit. Funny how that works out.

    It’s also fun to listen to how many people tell you what they “should” do. They should work out more, eat healthier, spend more time with the kids, take their wife on a date. Recently while speaking with a large group of professionals that were engaging in all of their “shoulds,” I simply said, “Wow, it appears I’m in a room surrounded by people that should on themselves all day.” It definitely raises eyebrows when spoken swiftly.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have heard the “should on yourself” comment before. It always makes people think!

  • kathleen

    That’s oddly liberating. To say I’ve stopped trying is to say I’ve given up, right? But maybe not!

  • Robin Lemon

    Hey Mike – thanks for the hospitality this weekend and for taking such great care of Shawn.  Really enjoyed your blog this morning:  concise, direct, and thought provoking.  Thanks for sharing. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great to meet you, too, Robin. Shawn is a joy. We are really enjoying him. You did a GREAT job as a mom!

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  • Timbuktoons

    A challenging post, thanks Michael. Since you used a Star Wars quote I couldn’t resist one of my fav Karate Kid quotes :-) …
    Miyagi: Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [makes squish gesture] get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” just like grape.

    • Chris Patton

      Great quote!

      Chris Patton

  • Dalene

    Boy, I wish you could convince all the helicopter parents of this! I work in education, higher education actually, & so many students have been rewarded for “trying” their whole lives that they think they deserve something for nothing. They (in general of course, it’s not 100% of students) have an attitude of entitlement, thinking they deserve an A just for showing up to class & putting forth some sort of effort. I surely hope this trend changes before the next generation!

    • Michael Hyatt

      So true! Great application.

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I hadn’t thought much about how the verb “try” is a bit of a two-legged stool.

  • Derek Johnson

    Great post Mr. Hyatt.  I am “trying” to find a job.  Seems like the word “try” when it comes to job hunting relies a lot on other people also.  But it is a good reminder.

  • Anonymous

    Quoting Yoda just took your site to another level.  Amazing!

    • Jeff Randleman

      Kinda makes this blog seem so much more authoritative…

  • Anonymous

    Ok.  Going outside to move a Volkswagen using only my mental powers.  I’ll be back as soon as I’m done.

  • Jason Eichacker

    I wrote something along these lines a while back and recently reposted it, as it’s one of the more popular posts I’ve ever written (shameless plug:

    As you’ve highlighted here, the difference is semantic, but crucial.  When we understand the difference in commitment to “play full out” and see how everything comes together regardless of the result, we are in a better position to “win” — even if at the end of several attempts.

    For me, my current efforts are to act with this attitude relentlessly.

  • Todd Hash

    A bit off topic, but related to blog management.  I’ve been hesitant to rely upon posting other people’s YouTube videos or images because one never knows when they might be taken down.  The result would be a broken link on the blog.  How do you manage this risk?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I just deal with it when it breaks. It’s not a big problem.

  • Anonymous

    Been thinking about this “trying” thing for awhile. (Dr. Laura used to berate callers for using the term.) 

    When showing a student a different drawing technique – I say “Here, try holding the pencil this way and see if it works for you.” Perhaps the right term for that situation is “test it out”.

    Same with a new food – “just try a bite” – guess that would be the same as testing the flavor.

    Or teaching someone a new knitting technique or stitch – “Try it and see if you understand the concept”. . . once again, “test it out” works.

    English is a confusing and complex language – so many words have multiple meanings!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think this is a different connotation than the one I am using with reference to a goal.

    • Cheri Gregory

      You nicely illustrate the concept of “dabbling”, here. And sometimes, it’s perfectly appropriate to dabble

      Knowing when it’s time to do vs when it’s time to dabble — and recognizing/ admitting which one we’ve done — is part of unpacking the complexity of this “trying” word!

  • Brian Schmitt

    I had been trying to get over my fear of failure, by not doing anything that might fail. This summer I finally got out of my way and began doing things, like starting businesses. Two at a time is all I can handle while still working full time, but the “quality of life” for me has gone up dramatically. I have to continually remind myself to quit thinking about it and do it…

  • Bonnie Clark

    This post made me think of something similar: 

    A former basketball coach said to one of his players – Don’t say “I can’t”, say “I have not yet learned”.

    This gives the “do” element to “try”, I think. 

  • Anonymous

    You snipped the clip to short, the most important line is after Yoda pulls the X-Wing from the swamp, and Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.”  And Yoda says, “That is why you fail.”

    • Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, I didn’t create the clip. I just used what was available on YouTube. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    All hail Michael Hyatt. This is a nugget of pure gold.

    I like Tony Robbins, and I’m certain that he came to this insight on his own, but I first witnessed this exact demonstration during an est training session with Werner Erhard. He was faced with a student who insisted that he was trying as hard as he could but he still couldn’t make a change. Erhard took a book, dropped it to the floor and asked him to ‘try’ to pick it up. (same teachable moment as with Robbins)

    Two corollaries to this:

    1) When someone comes to me (including my wonderful 15 year old daughter) with an excuse about why something wasn’t done (including that she ‘tried as hard as she could’), I emphasize that the excuse doesn’t make any difference. The only thing that makes a difference is whether the thing got done or not. Were you on time for the meeting? Yes or no. I don’t care about traffic, etc.

    2) It’s all a game. When two NBA teams meet for the championship, both teams are committed 110% to winning. No one questions that. Just to GET there requires an incredible, almost superhuman commitment. Both teams are committed to the ‘don’t try, DO’ philosophy. And yet only one team will win, and that often comes down to serendipity or even luck. Even Vince Lombardi admitted regretting his statement, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” He admitted later in life that if his teams could say — honestly say — that they’d ‘left everything on the field’ during a game, played their absolute best with a full commitment to winning, then he would be happy, even with a loss.

    At the end of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” one of my favorite movies, Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) is defeated at the end. He utters a great truth — “sometimes the lost causes are the ones most worth fighting for.” Like the first Rocky movie, the hero won even though he lost, because he learned something about himself and the nature of life.

    (p.s. Yes, I know that Jefferson Smith actually ‘wins’ at the end because Senator Paine comes running in and confesses everything. In my humble opinion, the film would have been much stronger if the director (the sublime Frank Capra) had just ended on Smith’s inspiring speech. Smith isn’t defeated. He won by losing, because he learned something about himself, and his own ability to persevere.)

  • Vicky

    Mike I’ve been reading your blog for a year and never been inspired to comment until today.  I really need this on so many fronts.  Today I quit “trying” to improve my marriage.  I already texted my husband and asked if we could meet tonight to talk because I need to find out exactly what he needs from me and give him that without trying.  Next, I am going to do my workout and quit “trying” to get in shape.  After that, I have a few phone calls to get done instead of “trying” to get done.  Then, I will quit “trying” to start my blog and will watch my first instructional video that’s been waiting for 3 weeks.  When the kids get home from school, this helicopter parent will tell them I am not going to accept them “trying” at school, but they can either do their best effort or have restrictive consequences.  Tonight I am going to quit “trying” to start Jesse Tree which my kids love, and get it out and do it together.  Oh, and I will quit “trying” to do this all in grace and with good humor.  Thanks so much – I needed it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Vicky. I’m proud of you!

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  • Wes Roberts

    Michael…one of your best!  Thank you!!  To thank you was what I needed/wanted to do…not just tried to do.  As much as I enjoy words…may “try” be minimized…and “do” maximized!!!  You DO, Mr. Hyatt, DO good work…….!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Wes. I appreciate that!

  • Rhinoplasty Surgery

    Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your feed and I am hoping you write once more very soon!

  • Philip Rothschild

    Excellent post Michael. I’ll share it with my kids, and my college students.

  • Jim Seybert

    Mike – I read this early this morning and it has already taken root in my conversation. I’ve caught myself a couple of times using the word “try” and stopped to alter what I’d written. I’m guilty of using “try” as an escape valve or safety net. So thanks.

  • TMZ

    I’ve always been a proponent of Yoda for imparting wisdom into modern-day culture. “Do or don’t do” is just brilliant. I think I’ve said I’d “try” to memorize Philippians (my favorite book of the Bible) rather than actually do it. I need to listen to Yoda more.

  • Sereta Collington

    Wow very interesting, I usually think “can’t” was the word that we use when we don’t want to get things done. I never thought of the word try and now when I think about it, there is a lot of try in my vocabulary.

    Thanks for the post

  • Rob Sorbo

    I’ve been chewing on this post most of the day, and I think I might disagree with you (at least on some aspect of it).

    For example, if I would like to be an executive someday, I can read leadership books, I can find mentors, I can work hard at my job, but I might not become an executive in the end. Basically, I’ve failed in trying to be an executive even though I’ve done a lot of other things.

    I agree that for most day-to-day things, you definitely need to be doing what you need to be doing, but when it comes to your big, pie-in-the-sky goals, you can only do your part (or basically try).

    What do you think? Am I reading too much into this?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t disagree that you can only do your part, but prospectively—when facing the goal—I eliminate “try” from my vocabulary. I am committed to doing whatever it is I am undertaking.
      However, retrospectively—when missing the challenge or the goal—I don’t beat myself up. I did try. Hopefully, I learned something and grew.
      I am mainly concerned with avoiding giving ourselves an out on the front end.
      Does that make sense?

      • Rob Sorbo

        That last line did it for me (“I am mainly concerned…”).

        My #1 strength (according to Clifton) is analytical, so I read into things too much on a regular basis.

  • Kari Scare

    I’ve been “trying” to nag my kids less. Time to start doing, especially since one of my favorite nags is for them to “Do or do not. There is no try.” (They love Star Wars, and so do I!). I’m going to send this post to my oldest (13).

  • kimanzi constable

    Awesome post Michael, I’ve been “trying” to get in shape and diet. Now I’m going to stop “trying” and just do it!

  • Spencer McDonald

    Great analogy of the chair!!We are susceptible to “trying” rather than “doing.” Doing is scary. Doing is fearful. What if doing is failing? What if doing results in tarnished pride? Trying allows us a way out. Trying allows us an excuse for failure.And, trying leaves us with guilt. We know that to never do is paramount to safety without comfort. I mean that we feel safe by never allowing failure; however, we witness no comfort of mind because we gave up on our own dreams and ambitions.I challenge readers to think about one thing they really want to do and do it. Act “as if” there is no option for failure. Act “as if” today is the last day of your life and do it without reservation or guilt. If today was the last day of your life and you just do what it is you think about doing you have room to think about failure or tarnished pride. You simply have time to act. So, I encourage everyone reading Michaels blog post to “do” instead of “try to do” what you know you should anyway.That includes me!!

  • Ebustoz

    Excellent! You are blessed my day!

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  • Swawe_ke

    This is soo real it hurts

  • Brandon

    Cool stuff!

  • David Halley

    I have been trying to tell people that all forms of self help books use embedding like NLP to get their point across. Certain books work for certain types of people and that because one set of books by a particular author didn’t work for them, they should use someone else’s books.

  • Gini Quiroz

    Used this in a presentation today. Can’t wait to see you speak @KNManagement next month! 

  • Onex11

    There is truth to this blog, and the yoda example…. Well, I’ll say i’ve seen that movie many times and never seen it from that perspective.. I must say most of my life I’ve lived trying, and when I step back and take a look…. I see stagnation, something I have had enough of! I will do, Or go all out….. Guess that’s where that saying comes from “Ride till ya die”

  • meiyen chng

    Wow! I never saw it this way. Thank you for sharing. Gives me fresh perspective.

  • Carrie P.

    Great and thought provoking post!

  • Mike Hansen

    I would like to use Tim Tebow as an example to respond to this blog post. I have only gotten to know him as a player since he’s arrived here in Denver, and more so since he’s been the Broncos starting QB. He’s so polarizing-you either hate him or you love him. I like what he brings. Does what he does qualify as “trying”? Does he walk on the field and think to himself, “I will try to execute this play I know the design of in my head”? I don’t think so. He sees the play executed and successful, even with all the factors of 11 defenders trying to shred that play. He does it-he’s committed, whether or not it works like it should. And something I’m also learning from his play is his simple tenacity and passion to DO IT! Not pretty, not always perfect, but results and outcomes no one can argue with: a 6-1 record since he came along.
    So here’s my answer to the question: at work. Most days I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much. It’s like I’m dabbling in lots of stuff, but not finishing much. I’m trying, but not doing, clearly.
    Thanks for giving me another reason to think.

  • Wong Kenglan

    Thank you .very clear and simple.

  • Marv Quianzon

    “Go FTW” love that line

  • endro

    How many “try” do you say today?

  • Lori Tracy Boruff

    Wow Michael…look at the comments and shares! You hit this one out of the ball park.
    Did you have your Wheaties for breakfast ?

    Powerful post – I’m inspired to stop trying to get my book written and DO it by scheduling time in my day for writing rather than trying to fit it in!

    I think the word “try” is like comfort food – something about it makes me feel better for the moment but the consequences may be harmful.

    Life changing post- Thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. Thanks, Lori!

  • John Tabita

    Great post, as usual.

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  • Tiffany Monhollon

    Great insights, especially at this time of year when sometimes it feels like that “trying” excuse becomes particularly important. Will be mulling over this one for a while, I’m sure!

  • Jeff Randleman

    Wow.  To answer your question… most of my whole life is “try”.

    I have some changing to do.  And now I can see that my kids are picking up on the same philosophy that I have been applying.  Going to be a tough road for the Randleman family, but  we are going to give it a try… er, give it a do.

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  • Marlene

    Dear Michael,

    Great post! I shared it with some of my children, who have been “trying” to do their chores in a non-sloppy way. They really appreciated the Yoda reference, and have agreed to DO their chores going forward.

  • Carsten Hucho

    Such oversimplifications might sell some books. But what for? Never played violin before? Just do it? Never spoke Italian before? Just do it? Understood the world? Just do it? No! Try, try again, get better, enjoy, try more, improve, breathe, learn, grow. Your world – the world of advice-sellers – might be binary. The real world is not. Try to understand. You might. You might not. But it is worth a try.

  • Carsten Hucho

    While your advice certainly helps in case of utter undecidedness I wish to consider more complex situations. Not everything is purely binary: do or don’t.
    You may want to look at those examples: Never played violin before? Just do it? Never spoke Italian before? Just do it? Understood the world? Just do it? No! Try, try again, get better, enjoy, try more, improve, breathe, learn, grow. When looking for quick advice the world might look binary – a yes/no world. The real world is not. The real world is actually quite interesting. Isn’t it exciting to Try to understand. I might. I might not. But it is worth a try. Don’t you think so?

  • Chanese

    I have been trying to understand my place on this earth, on my job, in my marriage…..

  • Anonymous

    Michael, for many things in life, I would completely agree with you.  We either choose to do something or choose not to do it…or choose to procrastinate and call it trying.

    However, for something as complex as a marital relationship, that strikes me as a horribly unfair comparison to lifting a chair. 

    Yes, we can choose to change our behavior, or to change or response.  Those are not easy changes, but they are things over which we generally do have control, and a choice.

    However, we have no control over another person’s response.

    None of us can choose to improve our marriage.  We can choose only to improve our own attitude and behavior within the marriage, which may, or may not, result in an improvement to the relationship.

    • Michael Hyatt

      After 33 years of marriage myself and counseling scores of couples, I have been amazed to see how many marriages can change when one of the partners decides to change. It changes the whole dynamic in the relationship. Someone just has to go first.
      By the way, if you haven’t already, watch all the Tony Robbins episodes in the link I provided. You will witness a good example of this before your eyes.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, one partner changing their attitude and actions can change the whole dynamic of the marriage.  However, there is still no guarantee of the outcome.

        One can choose to positively change their own actions and attitudes, which will likely change the relationship.

        One cannot simple choose to IMPROVE the relationship, because that depends on the partner’s response.  One can certainly TRY…put forth their best effort in the hope of improving the relationship, but cannot guarantee results.  It is not nearly as simple as choosing to lift a chair.

        I know.  I’ve been there.  I put forth my best effort for seventeen years in a marriage that ultimately ended in divorce.

        • Michael Hyatt

          There’s no guarantee of any outcome in any endeavor. I am simply saying that you increase your probability of success when you do rather than try. If you fail, then you deal with that.

          • Anonymous

            We seem to be agreeing in concept while disputing definitions of terms. 

            DOing with no guarantee of success is called TRYing.  That is precisely what the word TRY means.

          • Carsten Hucho

            exactly. Like in aphorisms it is too appealing to oversimplify to a point of distorting just for the effect. This is often observed in the ‘advice’-‘literature’ (’10 steps to become the happiest person in the world’ ‘four things that will save your marriage’…).
            It might help to start a discussion. But it is counterproductive to take it as absolute.

          • Michael Hyatt

            I can see that. I would just be careful that when you say “try” you aren’t using it to cloak an excuse. (I have to watch this, too.)

          • Anonymous

            Agreed, and a point well made.  Thanks, for both the reminder and the discussion.

  • Bethany

    I loved this article and read it to my sixteen year old son with whom I often enjoy interesting conversations.  His immediate response “Oh, but there is a huge difference. You are TRYING to publish a book. You are DOING all the work needed and still…it may never get published…!” Wise guy!

    • Anonymous

      Well stated, and reinforces the point I was trying to make in above comments. 

      I can DO the things necessary to bring about the desired result.  I cannot always guarantee the final result…but I can certainly TRY…by DOing the necessary steps.

      Smart kid!

  • Chetz Y. Togom

    Thank you for this reminder. Yoda is my favorite character in Star Wars because of his wise advice like this one.

    I will change and become an inspirational speaker.

  • Jose Paul Martin

    Being a Star Wars fan, couldn’t help not reading this… great point, it may sound like semantics but definitely is different! Need to give this some thought… not ‘try’ to give this some thought… but give it some thought.

  • Ceciliaivars

    I have been trying to be good, live my “right” life, be a good mother, to do what I shall do and so on so on…find my “way” 
    But I am grateful and thanks every day for what I’m learning so THANKS <3<3 

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  • Carsten Hucho

    Did my comment disappear – or did you remove it? Was it offensive to you that I wrote: “Do you play the violin? Just do it? Do you speak Italian? Just do it? Do you understand the world? Just do it? No! Try! Try again. Learn, try, improve, enjoy!”

    ‘Try’ is a word with a clear definition – it is not ‘not doing’ or ‘not not doing’. See that rock over there? Go, pick it up. You will go – and you will try. If it is too heavy you would have tried but not managed. If you are strong enough you will have tried and succeeded.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I did delete it. I apologize. I thought it was spam because of the link. I can see now that it is not. You are welcome to disagree!

      • Carsten Hucho

        thanks. I was afraid it was the link…. I should have made more clear what I am linking to. The discussions here are quite interesting – even though I just got a bit tense about your insistence on your view. But, of course, this is what makes it stimulating.
        I enjoy reading your blog.

  • Smithsarmn

    Very simple and eloquent. It’s amazing how many times I “try” to do something each day and then get to the end of the day feeling like I didn’t get anything done (even though I maybe felt busy because I was telling myself I was TRYING to do so much). Technology, particularly email and facebook are big time-sucks for me and often make my “to do” list into a “to TRY to do” list. Seeing the word “try” as the same thing as making an excuse for why I won’t do something is a very motivational concept to me. However, regarding the woman in the Tony Robbins seminar–I will give her the benefit of the doubt in one respect: when you’re trying to address a relationship issue, BOTH parties involved have to be committed.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Unfortunately, many fail to understand the difference between trying and doing. I think when we are not sure about the end purpose and not interested in the particular activity, we will indulge in trying. On the other hand, when we are passionate about what we are doing and are clear about the final outcome,  then we will be giving our  100 %.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Sounding philosopical Chanese

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Oh! Excuses…. One tend to make it very easily.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for your advice Spencer! You have give me great points to ponder with.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for sharing these corollaries! That was informative Rich!

  • Mmv

    I eliminated that word a long time ago. It annoys me since the word “try/trying” means nothing, just like the word “maybe”.  It’s 
    Reality is you’re either “doing” or “not doing” and that’s it.  Awesome article!

  • Victor Sinclair

    Ok, so here is where I’m stuck, and perhaps it’s a question of word semantics but it’s always had me befuddled on the middle ground.  While I get Yoda’s and Robbins analogy of do or not do, I keep thinking about other scenarios which are not as easy.  What about the soldiers who went into battle to win a battle for a hill or to capture a town but died.  Did they not try and gave it their all.  What about a marathon runner who called I recently saw in the Biggest Loser who called pulled out at mile 24 because of his injuries, did he not try to complete the marathon.  What about a teenager who “tried” to raise $10,000 dollars for Cancer but only raised $9,548?  Did he not try and reach his goal.    In all three cases there’s a big gap between those who tried and those who did nothing.  Picking up a chair is a yes/no scenario, but many goals are targets and they to are yes not scenario, but while these people did not hit their target they still accomplished milestone above the rest.  To simply say these people failed and did not do is not fair or accurate either. 

    We have built up a culture that recognizes effort and not just results.  If we begin to make everything black and white I think we may discourage more people from doing anything simply because you build up a bigger fear of  being in the failure category.  Not everything is in the Apollo 13 scenario and certainly in battle there is only one option.  However what if Tony Robbins had asked the lady to pile 100 chairs in the space of five minutes and she only stacked 84 but “tried” as hard as she could.  Maybe only a top athlete could have done it, maybe it was not doable until a paradigm shift was made, like the one often used with Roger Banister breaking the 3 minute mile barrier however in any event continuous effort and dedication still needs to be rewarded.

     As this blog is on Intentional Leadership, let us recognise effort related to Intention or we risk the either or scenario.  As one master of leadership said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ~ Dale Carnegie   Some of them succeeded in their goals and objectives some did not, but all tried. 

    Not trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater as I acknowledge there is a definite truth to your scenario of trying to get into shape as very valid, however when goals are  somewhat subjective, like becoming an “Good environmentalist” and recycling 70% of your household goods, it does not mean that you’re not or did not try because you did not also convert your house to solar power.

    Any insights you can share gratefully accepted.
    Victor Sinclair

    • Michael Hyatt

      Victor, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think you are over-thinking the results and it is getting you tangled up. The point is the posture you assume before attempting something meaningful. Are you really committed to achieving it or are you merely trying (not really committed). It really does make all the difference.
      Only you can know whether it is merely semantic or if there is something deeper here for you to ponder.
      Personally, I never “try” unless I don’t really are about the outcome and am just experimenting. I have never contacted anything meaningful by just trying. It took a major commitment first.
      Having said that, I have fallen short or failed on outcomes I was committed to achieving. But that’s fine. I still accomplished more than if I were merely trying.
      Hope that helps.

      • Carsten Hucho

        Your article is a nice piece for motivation. It is overstating something for the purpose of  giving motivation. fine. But your definition of ‘try’ is maybe a bit off.
        Clearly you want to say: approach something with the clear will to do it. Don’t plan for ‘maybe’ – yes. But as stated below: as long as something is not completed it is a try. Again: let me go lift that rock. I go and …. if I manage, then I did it. If I fail, I tried. the motivation, the approach was the same.

      • Victor Sinclair

        Thanks Michael.  Perfect.  We’re on the same page! :>)

        • Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer

          Victor, I enjoyed reading your comment.  This always gets me in the arena of health, when someone uses the statement, “They lost their fight against cancer.”  Really?
          How about describing it this way instead, “They were a warrior in the toughest battle of their life.”
          I think this mindset applies to the other examples you mentioned.  As Michael said, caring about the outcome is the point. 

    • TNeal

      I like what you have to say, Victor. Your examples and questions take this initial post and cause a person to think deeper. In reading Mike’s reply and yours, I think we all recognize the importance of a genuine attempt/trying versus the cop out–“Well, I tried.”

      In each of your examples, you offered people who did accept the challenge, moved toward the goal, but fell short of completion. They “did” fight, run, raise money. They “did not” take the town, finish the race, hit the goal. We commend their doing and grieve their falling short (although the young man who fell short by hundreds of dollars rather than thousands really is cause to celebrate).

      Thanks for making me think a little longer and deeper on the initial subject.

  • Angelo Bellandi


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  • jackalopekid

    I have to say that I absolutely love this post… I’ve been trying to make time for those priorities that I say are important but don’t actually show it with my time. Here’s to “doing”.

  • Shannon Milholland

    Great post, Mike and so true. As of today I’m x-ing the dirty word “try” from my vocab and will do instead!

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  • Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer

    This one made me chuckle.  I’ve often used the Yoda quote with my kids, especially in reference to getting their chores done.
    Now they’re teens, and they’ve changed it up on me.
    I say, “Try not, DO.”
    Their reply, “No Mom, it’s:  Try, NOT do.” 
    The wisdom of the young…

  • TNeal

    The Tony Robbins link certainly helped give a visual to go with your words. Your show-and-tell worked well. If I ever need to see the face of anger masking deep pain, all I need do is return to the TR video. Thanks.

  • Jessica

    i am trying to understand your point here…

  • John Gallagher

    I cringe when I hear “I will try.”  – Whether it is my family, co-workers, friends,etc.  I need to make sure it doesn’t come out of my mouth, too.  It starts with me and my example.  I believe some of the challenge has to do with folks not being able to say ‘no’ to something they don’t want to do, so it they say, “I’ll try”, then it gives them an opportunity when it fails to say, “Well, I tried”.  Thanks, Michael. I will try to comment more often and add value —- just kidding!

  • Hesster3

    What a great article! To the point and very very inspiring.

  • Joy

    Just discovered your blog and have been blessed by many of your posts.  I especially thought this one was timely.  Great word!  Thanks!

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  • Stephanie Sikorski

    ok! I’m no Stars Wars fan and I almost didn’t keep reading but so, so glad I did! So glad! It took me a second but I finally got the Tony Robbins illustration. As I was reading I felt so bad for the woman. I would have done the same thing! Picked it up or not picked it up. How do you try to pick it up!? Thanks for this post!

  • James Pinnick

    Love it Mr. Hyatt! Thanks for the post!
    Commit 100% to the outcome. I love it

    James Pinnick
    Author-The Last Seven Pages

  • ElleX

    Thank you for sharing this post.  I have been trying whilst I should have been doing in many areas of my life. 

  • Jakelecuyer

    Just wanted to say thanks. Quite frankly I used to have a stealing problem, an addiction of sort. This in a way kept me motivated when the last time I almost slipped up. I did, but I feel as though this will motivate me to continue changing, hopefully this recent incident will be the last.

  • Costa

    Wow! So freaking powerful! Very challenged by this..thanks Michael

  • Kevin

    Michael – I read your site frequently, but lately have gotten quite busy and missed this post.  Luckily, a friend just shared it with me, and I must say I was floored when I read it. It is nothing short of incredible, for 2 reasons.  #1) The pure principle of DO or DO NOT is a great one to live by, and I absolutely agree with every point you’ve made here.  Which leads me to reason #2).  A few months ago I was inspired by the very same Yoda quote, realizing it represented the very core of my approach to life’s obstacles, and especially to my work as a graphic artist.  As I was in the process of branding my new company, I needed a name, and I knew this principle had to be at its core.  This led to what I believe is the perfect name for my business — TINT Studios.  The name, TINT, is in fact, simply the acronym for what I considered the most radical and profound part of Yoda’s phrase – There Is No Try.  So you can imagine my level of shock and excitement as I read this post.  Because you’ve summed up the ethos of TINT perfectly!  The funny part, to friends that know me and my new venture, it basically looks like I commissioned a guest post from you to launch my site, (which isn’t too much of a stretch to believe, since I know John Saddington and am close friends with his brother Peter.) — So THANKS! for another incredible post, and for all your leadership insights that inspire us daily to, like Luke, DO more than we could ever imagine.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That is an awesome name, Kevin. Love it!

  • Ladyjiex06

    I don’t get it…trying is same as not doing? Well, someone asked me to try a new cake recipe and I did try it… I baked the cake, so how’s that not doing it? I don’t think you should eliminate the work try at all. Because to be able to find the right size shoes you will actually try on that pair of shoes. Sometimes you can replace try with do but there are times you need to use the word try.

  • Susan Giles (pegsus)

    You are exactly right.  I have been talking about trying to research and write a book for well over 15 years.  Now I find that the things that I wanted to write about, have already been successfully writen on by other people (authors). I wish to write (I will write about my favorite subject), that being history of Nevada.  I can quote more excuses for not writing these books, than the actually documents themselves.  Thank you for your insight.  Susan Giles (pegsus)

  • Lis

    What an excellent post.  I’ve had it in my email to read and just got to it today.  Need to live this!

  • Laura Johnson

    LOVE the comparison between trying and doing. 
    My boss constantly ‘tries’. Most of the time it turns into ‘not doing’. Reading this article and having the words clarified in my mind, helps me. Yes, I will always have hope. But knowing ‘trying’ does not mean ‘doing’ helps me to refocus myself more productively at work. 
    Thanks! :) 

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  • Timothy Lynn Burchfield

    NIKE is right!  “Just DO IT”

  • Tommyzerse

    I have been “trying” to start my own business for 10 years.  Instead, I have gone to work for other people always with the idea that it will segue into ownership.  I have done this 3-4 times over the last 15 years and the results are always the same. 
    When I say “I am trying”, what I am really saying is “I am afraid that I am going to fail in ay of 100 different ways”.
    I had a baseball coach in high school that used to say “trying is lying, just get it done”.  

  • JoeinTaiwan

    This is a great post!  Thanks for the reminder.

  • Rocco Dapice

    Great article!

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  • itsonlyapapermoon

    I don’t agree. Everyone needs a challenge, but you can’t always achieve everything you want to in life. You cannot win the war but you can pick your battles so to speak. 
    Trying is better than giving up and dropping out. It is better to have tried and failed than not have tried at all.

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  • Guilan

    Now…pick up that car.

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  • Davidbrin

    That scene is one of dozens showing just how horribly evil the Yoda character is.  Can you name one thing he ever does that is actually wise or decent or friendly or even helpful?  A horrid little oven mitt.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You mean other than the one I used as the foundation for this post?

    • Laura Johnson

      So you think it’s horrible when a person pushes another person to better themselves, to reach a level of greatness never realized before? I want people like that in my life. I want to realize my full potential.

  • Auntie

    Not sure if I follow your reasoning on this one.  To try is to attempt to accomplish, correct?  We have to try because we don’t have control over everything.  Take the woman and the chair example.  What if she had a physical problem that precluded her ability to lift the chair?  Then, she would have to TRY to lift it without assistance.  If I am to succeed at anything without any help, I can only try.  For example, I’ve started a small at-home arts and crafts business.  I have made a Facebook page, have an Etsy store, and bring my wares with me whenever I’m out to try (oh no) to sell my items.  I haven’t had a lot of sales yet, so it is making and attempt to sell an item because I don’t have control over someone else to make them buy.

    • Auntie

      *making an attempt.  Sorry

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  • Raven

    I completely disagree, at least for me.  This is because I take my word seriously.  If someone asks me to do something, and I am not 100% sure (and when in the world do we get 100% surety) that I will be able to accomplish it, I cannot, in good faith, promise that I will do it.  Picking up a chair is easy.  I would have 100% surety that I could pick up a chair, and I would do it.  Picking up a chair that is too heavy to lift . . . well?  Should the woman look at it and just not pick it up?  I suppose that would remove the problem, since  she’s not promising to try or do, and thus can’t break her word.  But what if someone she loves really needs her to pick up the chair?  Wouldn’t it be better for her to try and fail than to assume it won’t work ahead of time?  Maybe not.  Maybe in trying, she’d break her back and they’d both be in bad shape.

    I know a lot of people use “try” to get out of things.  I don’t.  I use it to be honest in my dealings with others.  If I don’t know whether I will be able to succeed, I can’t promise I will.  All I can promise is that I will put forth my best effort toward that goal, so that is what I promise.  I feel anything else would be dishonest.

  • Amaryah LaBeff

    When I read the title of this blog I immediately recalled the Tony Robbins video (I wonder if the Yoda dialogue was in his sub-conscience).  Good stuff!  

    Michael, I can’t thank you enough for the encouragement and resources you share.  I’ve been reading your blog for years and “trying” to get my blog and book project out the door (my book has been complete  since 2009 and just sitting at home!).  After listening to your podcast on the way home from my vacation 2 weeks ago (wherein you quoted the proverb about “the best time to plant a tree”) I decided to “do” instead of “try”… it only took a couple years of indoctrination. ;)  Anyway, you’ve been a real inspiration.  In the past 2 weeks, I’ve posted several blogs (, posted twitter updates at regular intervals (using Buffer, of course), written several more blog to be posted soon, compiled a list of future blogs ideas, and so much more.  So thank you for getting me off my butt and encouraging me to “do”.  I’m on a roll.  I can tell it’s going to take time but I’m in it for the long haul and happy to be finding my voice.  THANK YOU!  

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  • Eatme

    In a Marriage,, you only have control of Yourself,, Not the other person. It takes 2 to make a relationship work. Lifting a chair only involves a passive object. Getting in shape only involves you. Not the same as in a marriage

  • Kimdodd

    This is going to sound silly but I’ve used this principle for years with my clients in therapy. I call it “Training vs Trying” and first learned about it from a book by John Ortberg. Ortberg used it in reference to spiritual disciplines. I reframed it to setting goals in therapy. The ironic part is that I often use the scene from Star Wars and tell my clients that “try” is a 3 letter word!
    It was incredible to read this post! I love it!

  • Sri

    Awesome post! I’m a big fan of Tony. Didn’t recognize master Yoda’s guidance. Thanks and have a great day!

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  • Andy

    I really like the way you’ve made this point…I have conveyed this play on words to show my kids the difference…when they say ‘I tried that or this’ I respond with “Oh? I think you’ve Tried my Patience, Humor, and Perseverance…now lets Do Something. 

  • Ariel Paz

    I agree, Michael. In fact, It’s all about making a decision and the commitment behind our decision that determines whether we succeed or fail in our efforts. Many famous people have tried and failed many times, but their commitment eventually paid off. I recently wrote a blog post on this very thought. Nice video to demonstrate the point too.

  • Kickass Entrepreneurs

    It’s such a fantastic realisation, when you get that trying to do something and doing something is as different as night and day. I love the that video of Tony Robbins telling the lady to try and lift up the chair and her total confusion when he keeps repeating ‘no, I told you to try to lift up the chair’, you’re lifting up the chair’. It was a hard lesson for her but a great one!

  • victoria

    This is awesome advice. I was recently told that I have a do attitude and I do everything, or fail whole heartedly. Something I take as a compliment. My attitude is based on this same principle….that try doesn’t exist, just doing or not doing, something my parents instilled in me from a very young age. It’s good advice, and I love the way you shared it, understandable for everyone.

  • John Meese

    You quoted Star Wars in a blog post? That’s wonderful. Of the many lessons to learn in those movies, this was the most memorable to me.

  • Movies by Depuhl

    I was gonna chime in that trying is not really doing (when I read the headline in the tweet), but reading the post I wholeheartedly agree. There is just doing and there’s not doing (talking about doing, thinking about doing, wishing I was doing is all the same as trying to do.) It’s not about succeeding. You can do and fail, just don’t let that stop you from doing again. And the bigger (more impossible) thing you go and do, the greater your possible success. The only way to ensure you fail, is by not doing in the first place.

  • Melinda Todd

    This is really good advice. I know that with writing novels, I get so bogged down in worrying that it’s no good that I end up not finishing any of them. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it shouldn’t matter if it’s perfect – it won’t be – but more that I finish it and write ‘the end’.

  • Rick Wolff

    When a hypnotist (or at least Derren Brown, who explained the technique) convinces subjects that their arms are too heavy to lift, the word “try” is INTEGRAL to the suggestion, and repeated: “You try and try, but no matter how hard you try…” And to conclude, he says, “At the count of three, you’ll find you’re able to lift your arms with ease.”

  • Pam

    I believe you can “try” something and not be successful because you do not have the correct tools or help. I can attempt to move a one ton boulder but I will not be able to move it without the correct tools. I can attempt to lose weight but without the knowledge of how to activate my metabolism I will not have much success. The tools are necessary for the “doing”.

    • John Tiller

      So true, Pam!
      You achieve a much better return when you sharpen your ax, than you do when you swing your ax with a dull blade.

  • Dylan_REIAofMacomb

    Motivation is what you seek…

    • Barry Hill

      “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”—Yoda

  • nvng

    Doubtful. If taken literally, this thinking prevents taking the long shot. One who dreams the big dream will necesarily self censor those thoughts before they get started because, “there is no try.” Much of the progress in history has come from failed attempts. You could argue that these were failures while doing rather than trying, but then, in the case of Luke and Yoda, Luke also failed while doing because he did budge the ship — even if only a little.

  • Kamil

    I’ve just realized what was wrong in my approach to certain things. I’ve used to tell myself that I will try to improve my writing in English which has brought me nothing but failure. I will clip out this word from my vocabulary and subsitute it for ” will do” . Thank you for yet another great post.
    Greetings from Poland.

  • Anne-Marie Gosser

    This is all about commitment to doing something. It’s not about whether the something results in success or not. The Bible says “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Sounds like Yoda read the Bible. It’s sound advice.

  • Boyd McCollum

    The irony of course is that at the end of the film, Luke decides to “do” by leaving Yoda to save his friends, and Yoda basically says “since you can’t “do” it, you shouldn’t even try.”

    The underlying lesson is very good, but it’s all semantics in the end, and it’s somewhat butchering the language to try and get a clean philosophy of life out of it. The key thing is that many people think they can’t do something, so they don’t bother to try. And if they do try, they try half-heartedly then hang their hat on the fact that they”tried”.

    But many people actually do attempt (try) things that are stretch goals for themselves. They aren’t putting in half-hearted attempts, but are committed. But gosh forbid they say, I’m going to try to run a marathon this year and the first comment back is “Do. There is no try.” And of course how do you give props to someone for attempting a stretch goal but they fail? You can’t say “at least you tried,” because that’s been taken off the table. To be internally consistent you’d have to say, “hey, you set a goal and failed. Set better goals next time.”

    I’m totally into being committed to a goal, but taking a legitimate word off the table, even though it sounds like a profound statement, is plain silly.

    I have a teenage son, and he will occasionally use the “at least I tried’ reasoning for when he fails at something. But often, the lie in his reasoning is, he DIDN’T actually try. That’s the real bottom line.

    So if someone says they are going to try to do something, then I’d support them in their efforts to REALLY try. And the truth is, most people actually really do try their best in the moment. Implying they don’t is just another way our society reaches out and smacks people down, often so someone can sell more “how to” and “be a better you” type books.

  • Gordon Cashwell

    Thanks for this. I have been “trying” on my goals ever since I took your course at the turn of the year. I suppose as Nike says, I need to “Just DO it”. You are an encouragement to me.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Gordon. I appreciate that.

  • Mike Houston

    Nice one Michael!

  • Saskia E. Voss

    English is my second language… I never thought about this…thanks Michael for sharing this. I will eliminate the words “should”and “try”.
    Wonderful lesson and enjoyable read.Thanks

  • Isaiah Jackson

    Great blog post Michael.

    Now to eliminate the word “try” from my vocabulary.

    -Isaiah Jackson.