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“Trying” and “Doing” and How They Relate to Success

March 5, 2011

“Trying” and “Doing” and How They Relate to Success:

Are there magic ingredients to success? We look at certain people and define them as successful. We may even measure ourselves against them, thinking that we don’t have that whatever-it-takes to be as successful as they are. Perhaps we think we are missing the success gene, or that our allotment might be smaller than those to whom we are comparing ourselves, thinking, “What is it they’ve got that I haven’t got?” Perhaps their success lies more in what they do than with what they’ve got.

Notice the word “do.” It is a word of action. Compare it to the word “try.”  Let’s do a test with these two words. For a minute, try with all of your might to click your computer’s mouse without moving your hand. Think about your results. Did you achieve anything in your experiment of “trying?”

Now go back to the word “do.” Do something right now. Lift your hand and click the mouse. Set the mouse down and open the window shade near your chair to let in some light. Did you achieve different results with this experiment in “doing?” Trying is theoretical. Doing gets results.

“Try” is a word with little power. The concept of trying is a passive message that gets us nowhere. If we allow it to – and quite frequently we do – it can become an excuse for a halfhearted effort or giving up entirely. You might say, “Well, I tried. It didn’t work.” Doing, on the other hand, is necessary for forward movement and achievement, ultimately taking us to new places and allowing us to explore new possibilities. The difference between success and failure may be as simple as more doing and less trying. People who get results – who are successful – keep “doing” in spite of setbacks, whether small or large. Think of the Wright Brothers or Thomas Edison, who devoted years to projects that others thought impossible. Think of people today who pioneer in the arena of technology.

Once upon a time, the cell phone was a pipe dream. In 1973, inventor Martin Cooper, current CEO and co-founder of ArrayComm Inc., was then general manager of Motorola’s Communications Systems Division. He had a vision of people walking through the streets talking on the phone, and hence, the first cell phone was born, weighing 30 ounces. Today we would call that a dinosaur. It took ten years for Motorola to bring the weight down by almost half – to sixteen ounces. Ten years is a long time, long enough for many to have given up. But not Cooper. Cooper kept on “doing.” Another twenty-five-plus years passed and cell phones now weigh four to six ounces and have capacities that would have been deemed beyond the imagination. Cooper and his colleagues didn’t sit around and “try.” They worked and worked, experimenting, failing, overcoming obstacles and setbacks, until they had their first result. Once they had success, they kept doing. Their next goal was to repeat the entire process in order to make the size of the phone user friendly.

What words do you use when you embark on a goal? Are you forever trying, finding yourself disappointed in your results? Or are you a “doer,” one who keeps taking action, even in the face of setbacks? If you would classify yourself as a “tryer,” perhaps now is the time to re-create yourself as a “doer.”

Robin Damsky

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jerry permalink
    March 5, 2011 8:48 pm

    this is a classic debate in many settings.
    are we rewarded for trying (process goals) or for doing(getting results) ?

    in the ‘organization world’ of rewards & recognition, it seems we value both….I recall the story about a research chemist in the company I worked at for 25 years who did nothing but great ‘process’ research; discovered nothing new or breakthrough, but added significant value to the field of chemistry.
    he was clearly recognized as one of our top scientists.


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