Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Do, or Do Not. There is No Try

I'm telling you, the older I get, the more I realize that some of the lines and philosophies in the shows and movies I grew up with actually had true merit. I don't know why I wouldn't have thought so in the first place... maybe because I knew Yoda was a puppet, that he had a hand in his head to make him move...maybe just the cool-sounding, but ultimately disappointing (for not existing) teachings about the force made me tune him out in general. For whatever reason, I never really noticed the salience of this rebuttal of Luke's half-hearted "Well alright, I'll try."

"No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no 'try.'"

I was reminded of this during a recent podcast with Jon Andersen, a guy I hadn't really heard of, despite his successes in professional wrestling and strongman competitions. (I haven't followed wrestling that closely since being a kid in the 80s, and never really knew most of the strongman competitors on ESPN beyond Bill Kazmeier and Magnus I might actually have been seeing him compete and just didn't know it.) He recently dove headfirst into bodybuilding (definitely not my cup of tea) and got his IFBB pro card in just two shows. Apparently, that's pretty impressive.

But beyond his professional credentials and experiences, he talked about a philosophy of attacking life and goals that really resonated with me. He talked about making decisions and sticking to them. Letting those decisions actually guide your actions. One of his examples was the decision to go to the gym. You could either say "I'm going to try to start going to the gym more," or "I'm going to the gym more." One has wiggle-room, escape clauses built in. One lets you get away with failing to follow through. The other is just a stated fact. The first, you still set your alarm at night, but when it goes off in the morning, you lie in bed, considering whether you're really going to try to get up and go to the gym or not. You have an out, conveniently built in. The second, the alarm goes off, you get up and go to the gym, because you ALREADY decided to do so.  There's no extra work to do, no thinking or considering needed. Alarm goes off; feet hit the floor.

It borders on splitting hairs, but its become a very obvious difference to me. Since hearing that, and processing it, I find it much easier to get out of bed at 4:50 in the morning and just go. I've made the decision, I've set the goal, its just time to go do it. I'm not making that decision at 4:50am, when the bed is warm and comfy, and the pillow is perfect, and my wife is sleeping soundly, and it would be so nice just to curl up next to her and go back to sleep. My decision has already been made. Its just a matter of following through. Its not a matter of "trying" to go to the gym. Its a matter of doing it.

Do. Or do not. There is no try.

This obviously has affected other areas of life, as well. Rather than putting together a list of things I'll try to get to in a day, I put together a list of things I'm going to do that day. Then I start hacking away at it, finishing up one thing and moving to another. Decisions have already been made, priorities are fairly obvious, and when they're not, doing everything at a certain priority level ought to do the trick. I don't try to get anything done. I just get things done. Simple.

Great summation from DFHobbs.
EDIT: This is what I get for writing this at night. I forgot some of the main points I was going to tie into this.

Whenever you see a kid (or even an adult) who is preposterously excellent at something, its easy to just shake your head in awe and write it off as a fluke. I submit to you that you're seeing someone who decided to be the best at something. Not to try to practice, or to try to improve, or to try to be the best. Just to BE the best. 

Look at the highest level athletes. While the talking heads on TV and the armchair analysts go nuts comparing their performance and discussing who's trying to win, every truly great athlete is just out there doing their best. They're NOT "trying to give it 110%, Coach!" because, at the very least, that implies they were really only giving it about 91% before, and are now nearing 100%.  Nope, you watch Olympic swimmers or sprinters or weight lifters or whatever, they're not doing enough just to try to win... they're digging deep and giving it everything they have. They are just DOING. Not trying. Doing. Trying is easy. Doing is MUCH harder. But ultimately, so much more rewarding. 

So the next time you look at an awful WoD on the board, don't think (you thought positively) "I'll try..."  That's just leaving off the "...if I can, I guess..."  Think "I'm doing this."  EVEN if it DOES chew you up and spit you out, at least you hit it with everything you had, rather than with the mental parking brake on, wondering why its just so damn hard.  Now, it might be hard, and you still might fail. Hey, it happens. Sometimes, someone else is doing their thing a little bit better than you (consider the Olympic example: every athlete who gets a Silver Medal is still better than literally 99.9999999999999...of all other humans in all of history. But not on that day. It happens.)

"Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."

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