“Try” versus “Do”

  • Sumo

So I finally got it.   I am an avid reader and researcher of tips, phrases, thought processes, etc. that will help me be better at what I do in life.   But for years I did not get it.   My best buddy “Rick” joked about it all the time.   I had heard him chastise his co-workers as well as children for saying “I’ll try.”  Can you imagine that?   What kind of guy chastises his kids for saying “I’ll try?”   What devil of a man does that?  A smart one!  Too bad I missed it for so long.

This post is a quick one that I hope will help those of you that have missed it take this mentality and use it to drive you to new levels.  (read more on Goal Setting here) Some of you might certainly have gotten it before, or might have stumbled some of the material out there that teaches this same concept.   So what is the concept?

Simple:  The word “try” is a failure word.  It allows you to have a failure plan versus accomplishment plan. 


Imagine the difference to this hard corps competitor if he had said I'll "try" to practice this week versus I "will" practice.

Imagine the difference to this hard corps competitor if he had said I’ll “try” to practice this week versus I “will” practice.

Why do we use the word “try” and do this to ourselves?   Because is easier that way.   Saying “try” and failing has become a noble thing in our society, as it implies that you put forth effort.

But, imagine the difference of “try” versus “do” if you applied it to a situation where you were standing next to a one thousand foot drop off into a chasm filled with molten lava.  “I’ll try not to fall off this edge.”  vs. “I’m not falling off this edge.”  Which one would you pick?  I know which one means more to me!

Ok, so is this all semantics?   Did I just decide to play on words in a cute little blog post?   I think not.   I think a “will do” attitude driven by verbal statements might have made a big difference in what I might have accomplished over the years.

Here’s my example:  Recently I read about a great leader (big company CEO) that decided he would make his bed first thing upon rising no matter what to help his wife out and set the day in a positive tone.   The leader went to great lengths to make this happen.  For whatever reason I decided to do the same.   Not for a wife or anyone else, but because I wanted to start my day out with a solid action that might help set the tone.   In the past I had typically made my bed when I had time, but I did not do it concisely each morning upon rising.   I didn’t realize the implication at the time, but when I decided to make a change I told myself: “I will make my bed each day upon rising.”   I did not say, “I’ll try to make my bed each day upon rising.”   And guess what….I have not missed it one time.

I believe that the act of saying “I’ll do” sets into action some phycological processes that increase your chance of actually accomplishing what you set your mind on.   The “do” mentality sets a different tone in the brain and it begins to focus on accomplishing exactly what you stated, simply because failure is not an option at that point….because you decided to do.

So what if you are wrong and miss the mark?   It’s okay!   Being wrong is okay.   The world will not stop spinning.

That was my fear, and I believe the reason why it was easy for me to say “try.”  It meant that if I did not meet the goal I would be fine because I had not lied when I said “try.”   But it made it easier to miss the goal.   Missing goals I had set was bothersome, but was survivable.  Why?  Because all I really said was that I would “try” to do XX.   I gave myself an out!

Saying what you are going to do on the other hand is really scary, and when you miss the mark it can be painful.   It hurts us where we are the most vulnerable, our ego.   I truthfully believe that I missed more than one goal due to the mentality of “trying.”   Time to change!

If you have read this far, then I want you to change with me.   Here are our steps:

  1. Select goals wisely- because once they are set it will be impossible not to do the work to meet them if….
  2. We state our intentions by using “do” type action words.   We will forever say what we WILL do, and set actions in place to accomplish that target.
  3. We will believe with our heart and everything we possess that we will meet that goal, no matter how large or small.
  4. Lastly, in the rare case we miss our mark (very rare if we state our intentions with conviction), most likely from circumstances that really are out of our control, we will:
    1. Forgive ourselves
    2. Re-prioritize/refocus/reset the goal
    3. And drive on with the same mentality of “do” versus “try” with one hundred times more intensity than before!

Imagine some applications:

  • I will win my first club match in the next six months.
  • I am going to win my state multi-gun match this year.
  • I will train my defensive handgun skills twice a week, no matter what.
  • I’m going to handle my defensive handgun and dry fire a minimum of three times weekly for 15 minutes over the winter months.
  • I will change my diet and I will exercise five days per week no matter where I am or what I am doing.
  • Effective immediately I will not drink sugar filled unhealthy beverages, ever.
  • I will completely empty my inbox and action those emails every single day before I stop working.
  • I will meditate, re-center and focus every day for 10 minutes.
  • I will read something educational every day, six days a week for 30 minutes.
  • I will save  and invest 10% of my income every single month.
  • I will tell my loved ones that I love them, and truly appreciate them every single morning and night before I go to sleep.

Ok, so what are some of my “do” items?

  • I will complete the rough manuscript and have print ready, my newest book “The Art of Instruction – Your Complete Guide to Instructional Excellence” by Oct 31, 2014.
  • I will finalize the newest training program  and rough manuscript in my second big project “Your Defensive Rifle Training Program” by December 31, 2014.
  • I will post one high quality shooting or motivational blog post every other week or twice a month at a minimum.
  • This coming week, I am going to win my division at the I.D.P.A. Nationals.
  • I will launch my newest educational project, the American Warrior Society, in February or 2015 (or earlier).

There you have it, some major commitments from me.   What are yours?

Until Then – Train Hard!

Mike S.

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13 Responses to “Try” versus “Do”

  1. Ron says:

    Good stuff. Miss you Buddy!
    Ron Wille

  2. Dan Glenn says:

    Mike, all of your goals are worthwhile, and I fully support you in your quest to accomplish them! After taking your Defensive Rifle class last year in Sacramento, I am particularly excited about that upcoming book. As soon as it is available, you’ll have at least 1 guaranteed sale!

    Thank you for all of the knowledge, wisdom and motivation you have imparted this past year.


  3. Micah says:

    I believe a barrier to my own performance has just fallen over

  4. John Duncqn says:

    Great motivational piece, Mike! I appreciate your dedication in life and want to thank you for sharing this valuable information with us all. John Duncan

  5. Betty says:

    This is really good Mike thankyou!!!!!

  6. Ron says:

    Sadly enough many folks in the shooting world today are all talk, I this and I that. Getting them to actually do anything constructive/challenging at the range seems to be another story.

    My take:

    * If these are no tough targets in your training regime, you are soft.
    * If you are afraid of failure, you’ll never never amount to much. Ya gotta push.
    * I handle my carry gun each day for at least 7 minutes. It may be dry fire routines, but I am never more than 24 hours since my last gun handling exercise. I want the skills fresh on my fingertips & fresh in my mind. Mindset is everything.
    * I welcome stress when it comes to shooting. The more stress I can learn to function with, the more hard bark I can build on me now, the better my chances will be later.

    I love the point you mention : I will meditate, re-center and focus every day for 10 minutes.

    How little we use the full potential of our minds.

    GREAT post!!

  7. Gene says:

    Excellent points…I will do better myself!

  8. Lt. Donn says:

    As a fellow trainer of mostly civilians seeking their CHL as well as many first-time shooters, I constantly stress the importance of not setting themselves up psychologically for failure…even seemingly common “cast-off” phrases like, I’m going to suck at this…or wow, that will be a difficult drill…has an impact on performance. Whenever I catch my folks uttering such negatives, I immediately stop them and warn them of the implications and probable outcome of such behavior. I hope all trainers do the same, because, to quote our fearless leader…”words do matter”

  9. Lynxicanus says:

    This was a fairly serendipitous moment for me to come across this and I think it has great merit.

    Ok. I’m in.

    I Will make my own list.
    I Will see the list through to completion.
    I Will follow up on this post 6 months from today and comment on what I have achieved.

    I Will.

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