Enlightened Conflict

trying is rarely enough (with some important exceptions)

February 15th, 2015


courage i will try again

“I always thought I’d get farther.

I’d like to blame the world for what I’ve failed to do, but the failure – the failure that sometimes washes over me as anger, makes me so angry I could spit – is all mine, in the end.

What made my obstacles insurmountable, what consigned me to mediocrity, is me, just me.



I thought for so long, forever, that I was strong enough — or I misunderstood what strength was. “


Claire Messud


“I started at the bottom,

and somehow I’m still at the bottom.”











This is about trying. And, oddly, trying is a little difficult to discuss.


Really? <Yup>


secret keep going trying

Try this on for size … ‘trying is good’ versus ‘trying is not enough.’ And it is within that wretched in between our lives reside.

It is almost like trying to assess the difference in importance between the beginning and the end of things.

With no beginning <trying in the first place> there is no end <whatever ‘it’ is that makes people suggest it is not enough>.



Suffice it to say … regardless of whether trying is good or bad … we put a lot of emphasis in Life on trying.



And that emphasis makes us think a lot about trying … when to try … when to not try … and, ultimately, what is the price <prize, value> of trying?








Unfortunately  … the price, and prize, is both something and nothing.



I told you it was the wretched in between.





Let’s do ‘something’ first.




Frankly … most people don’t even try.


They are so scared of ‘no result’ that they do not even make the attempt.




try motherfuckers

“Nothing that we do, is done in vain.

I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph.”


Charles Dickens


“There is power in our intentions.”


some idiot

<pop psychologist>




I say this, and share the quotes, to point out that trying actually does mean something.



Something in that … well … it at least gives you a chance. Trying gets you ‘in the game.’


With that thought in mind I could suggest ‘victory can be found in the attempt.’


Trying means something … in fact … it can mean a shitload.


Taking the step.





And maybe the biggest something? … the learning you gain from trying.


trying thinking planning

Maybe the largest value of trying is in the learning.


The experience.


The mistakes, failures and doomed investment of energy.



That said. While trying certainly can be ‘something’  … let’s get to the unfortunate truth of ‘it means nothing.’




“Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention.

The seagull may intend to fly away, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock.

There’s no difference between that gull and all the others.

Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place.

Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions?

Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”

Andy Andrews


Ah … intentions and the ‘nothing’ aspect.





Here is the deal with intentions and trying:






“I started at the bottom, and somehow I’m still at the bottom.”






You may have great intentions with trying but in the end … you run the risk of being exactly the same as one who actually did nothing.



You may still be at the bottom with everyone else … and all you have going for you is that ‘you tried & they did not‘.





That said.




Nothing has multiple aspects … but let me do the tangible doing <or not having done anything> and the intangible self-value aspect.



The tangible outcome … this is basically no result.






Let’s say … certainly no good result.


No matter how you judge shit … losing or nonsuccess is … well … unfortunately … losing or nonsuccess.


Life does provide gobs of opportunity … but … at some point trying needs to pay off. Without it … it is simply wasted energy.


Or a hollow victory <victory in the attempt>.



The good news?

I would tend to suggest <in Life> … in general … iterative trying does not conclude in consecutive losses … it concludes in some victory <even if it is small>.


If it doesn’t?





The bad news.


Trying is not enough.





And intangible aspect of ‘nothing’ … this is the self value aspect.



immensity of life is hard

“The trouble is, I am not at peace with myself; I am not always “something,” and if for once I am “something,” I pay for it by “being nothing” for months on end.”


Franz Kafka




Trying that doesn’t culminate in something <anything at all> means … well … being nothing.





That sounds harsh.





It is harsh.



It is harsh because trying and continuous non success … well … sucks. It is harsh. And that harshness affects you <not just outside perceptions>. It affects how you see yourself which means it affects your self value.





This nothing thing is harshly sly & clever. Trying and nothing can come to Life in a variety of ways … you can even be nothing simply by … well … trying in the wrong way.


How crappy is that? You are trying but you don’t even realize there is a ‘right way to try’ and a ‘wrong way to try.’



“Sliding down the slippery slope of mediocrity.”


David Ogilvy


Another way of trying and yet not doing it the right way?  Sometimes you try by making promises … only they come up empty.




“Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them.”


The Fault In Our Stars



Or sometimes trying ends up coming to life in intentions <I intended it to end up this way … but it did not> … sometimes even good intentions … only to come up empty on the ‘good deed’ side of the ledger <oops … not result I envisioned>.




Life is short and if you’re looking for extension, you had best do well.

‘Cause there’s good deeds and then there’s good intentions.

They are as far apart as Heaven and Hell.


Ben Harper



As my good friend and colleague, Albert Einstein once said, “Life is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”


<I believe he said it at Starbucks once a long time ago>




Regardless.lies we tell ourselves



If you are not really really careful … trying can quickly become an odd version of a compromise … or negotiation … with Life.



“I tried” and then whatever the decision or action becomes mentally “an exception” if it is not optimal or comes to some good deed.



And before you know it you are on that slippery slope.



And once on the slippery slope … well tu mori <“you die”>.



Life is funny <in a not-so-funny way> that way.








Here I am writing an incredibly long rant suggesting trying is not enough and, yet, I have said this following thing a zillion times:




“All you can really ask is for someone to do the best they possibly can.”


Anonymous (and me)




Said it a zillion times.



I have no clue who I stole it from but it is mine now.



But if I could beat this into the head of every leader in the world I would be willing to staple the piece of paper with the quote on it to my forehead.



I recognize that sometimes we ask so much of people it is amazing.



And, yes, many people do not know what they are truly capable of until they are pushed to aim for something seemingly impossible.



I was a pretty demanding leader.

I set an incredibly high bar for my teams.


outcome situation

But I am fairly sure that, in the end, all I asked is that they do their best.


And if it isn’t enough then we can say we didn’t succeed for lack of trying.



And, unfortunately, sometimes that’s as good as it gets.



Ask the best of people and I believe most people will surprise you by doing a little better.



And ‘doing a little better’, 99% of the time, leads to some outcome … therefore … the trying is enough.

Enlightened Conflict