TRY – The little verb that never could


Please TRY to read the following sentence:

'Oh look, you ARE reading this sentence'

Exactly! You actually read it and there was an action associated with it.  Allow me to explain.

First let me start with the definition of 'verb' from Wikipedia:

verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action(bring, read, walk, run, learn), an occurrence(happen, become), or a state of being (be, exist, stand).

By virtue, 'try' is not really a verb – it doesn't lead to an action; you either do something or you don't. Back to our example above: when I asked you to 'try to' read the sentence – by default you either read it or you didn't.

How many times do we say "I tried to (talk to him, tell her something, study…) but it didn't work". Trying, sounds like an excuse, or rather, a reassurance that we did everything we could – but did we? Even if we failed there were things we did, or didn't that caused that to happen. Sometimes when we use 'try' it takes away the control we have over the matter. In other words, we take the accountability and responsibility away from us!

Here are 5 common uses of 'TRY' which keep us from moving forward:

1. "I tried to go to the GYM – I really did" – I'm sure the intention was there, but as they say: 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'. Reflect on the reasons why you didn't go to the GYM – was it because you were busy? Then plan for it – be realistic and start with 3 days a week and put it in your calendar. Or maybe the time you 'tried' to go didn't work for you so switch to nights instead of mornings.

2. "I tried talking to them but they wouldn't listen" – Here, we're blaming the other person, deflecting the responsibility away from us. You either talked to them or you didn't. If you did, then maybe the tone was not appropriate; or maybe the time wasn’t right i.e. during dinner when the kids are being loud and everyone's distracted or at the office when passing in the hallway. It might also be that you didn't actually talk to that person but by saying 'I tried' it means that you intended to (and you know what I already said about intentions!).

3. I love this one: "Son, try your best" instead of "Son, DO your best" – whatever is best for that child, just teach your kids to be pro-active and take ownership of their actions. Otherwise, they will come back to you and say: "I tried" -then what? If a child feels like she did her best, even if she didn't succeed, there's room to evaluate why she didn't and IMPROVE.

4. "I really tried to make the sell but it just didn't happen" – in this scenario 'try' is being used as an excuse. Both you and your boss would be at fault if you accepted this answer. Failing is ok, what's even better is looking at why this happened and correcting it in the future. So next time say this "I didn't make the sell but I know how I will next time" – this way you're accountable and in control to change the outcome in the future.

5. "I will try to spend more time with my family" – Change this from a passive to an active statement: say "I will spend more time with my family" and 3 things will happen: 1. By stating it as a fact you are committed 2. It makes it an action that implies it will happen. 3. It makes you believe in it and you will ensure it comes true.

If Nike would have wanted a mediocre campaign they would have used the tagline 'Just Try it' but they didn't – they used "Just Do it'.

Easier said than done? Yes, it is. Now, I consciously stay away from the word try and it's helping me be more action oriented, positive and in control of my life.

I encourage you to (I almost wrote 'try this…') change your daily vocabulary by substituting TRY with an action, occurrence or state of being verb. This is a small detail, but one that might help you improve your communication style, your relationship with loved ones, your engagement with work and your attitude in life.

Life, The Coach Shiri way.

Shiri Gabriel, Career Consultant and Life Coach