Many of you will know that I am in the throes of authoring a book about workplace communication. You may not know that I’m trying to complete it by the end of February, just 13 short days and nights from this moment.
Talk To Me – Workplace Conversations That Work, blends fiction and nonfiction, weaving a story around and through the communication ideas to put them in a ‘real world’ context. It’s a book with an accompanying learning program and a slew of downloadable recordings and worksheets to support it. Mercifully, these extra bits are not due by month’s end.
This morning, as I was trying to write one of five chapters required this week, I interrupted myself to coach a young entrepreneur of unusual talent. Today was not her best day. She acknowledged that she’s trying to be a certain way. And she’ll try to think bigger. And she’ll try to put some ideas together. And she’ll try to do something about it.
And all of a sudden, I could hear the great Jedi guru, Yoda, screaming at me, at her, and at the world, just as he screamed at Luke Skywalker. “Try? There is no Try! There is only Do and Not Do.”
Your inner Yoda knows that trying is not enough. When we TRY to do something, the possibility of failure is always with us. With DO and NOT DO, we make a choice. Failure is not an option.
We live in a world that often gives us points for trying. But the points we get for trying are seldom enough to win the game. That’s true whatever our game, in sport, business, relationships or in achieving any goal. If we are playing to win, we must do more than try.
As children, when we missed the mark, our mothers, teachers and coaches often tried to build our self-esteem and encourage us to step into the world with a simple line or two. “It’s OK,” they said, after a setback, loss or disappointment. “At least you tried. You did your best.” I can still hear that phrase in all the comforting voices that showered me with love as a perfectly imperfect child. You may hear it, too.
I wonder whether we were listening to the right part of that phrase of praise. Did we focus on the TRY? Or on the BEST? What words, in that conversation, were the ones we really heard. Which were the ones most emphasized? Which were the ones that have served us best?
Did we buy a way to excuse ourselves when we don’t succeed? “Oh well, at least we tried.” Or did we understand that every time we operate at our best, we not only increase our chances of winning the game we think we’re playing, we also win a bigger game.
What does it mean to do your best? For Yoda and for Luke Skywalker, it meant doing what seemed impossible by believing it can be done. It wasn’t just about Luke raising the space craft out of the swamp using only his mind. It was about learning to believe in his own ability. It was about removing the doubt in his own mind. It was about reaching his potential.
I often say that the most important conversation you have is the one you have with yourself. This is the conversation between your own inner Yoda and his negative counterpart, the Doubter. Trying is the Doubter’s word and the Doubter’s work. It leaves room for failure. When we decide to Do or Not Do, we are choosing to win.
So I’m going to stop trying to get Talk To Me (Draft One) completed by the end of the month. I’m just going to do it.
What will you stop trying?