Attempting to Achieve vs. Determined to Succeed

When you ask someone to do something, one of two answers are usually heard:  “I’ll try” or “I will.”  At first glance, these two responses sound a lot alike.  After all, aren’t we taught to always try, or try real hard or try our best?  Yes, it seems pretty easy to answer most questions with the words, “I’ll try.”

When you think about it, “I’ll try” is actually a really slick and convenient response to just about anything that presents a challenge.  When we say those two words, what we’re really saying is: “I’ll put some effort into this… but I think I’ll hedge my bets too.  I may succeed, or maybe I won’t, but don’t hold me accountable.”

The best part about the words, “I’ll try” is if you use them, you’ll never fail.  If you succeed in whatever you’re trying to do, good for you!  If you are unsuccessful, it’s no big deal; at least you tried.  In fact, “I’ll try” is almost like our own personal, “Get out of Jail Free Card.”  You can use that phrase every time you’re not fully committed to succeeding.  Of course, the problem with this particular “Get out of Jail Free Card” is that, unlike the game of Monopoly, where you can only use it once, you can just keep using the card over and over again. Each time you use it, the card becomes easier and easier to use.  And failing will be easier and easier to accept, too.

Now let’s look at the phrase “I will.”  Why are we so worried about using those words?  I believe it’s because when we use those words, we make ourselves 100% accountable for our actions… and it scares us.  When we say “I will,” there is no “Get out of Jail Free Card.”  There is no place to hide.  There is just the knowledge that we have to do our very best to succeed.   But even though we try our hardest, we may not succeed – we might fail.  But is that really such a terrible thing?

Failure is not a death sentence, and it’s certainly something we can rebound from.  As a matter of fact, isn’t failure one of the keys to success?  Read any success story you choose, and I can almost guarantee you that you will find a story of failure woven into the fabric of that success.  Failure is often what paves the way to accomplishment.

In the end, the words “I’ll try” are almost the right words.  Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”   The next time you are challenged to take on a task, whether by another individual or by yourself, use the right words: I will.  What’s the worst thing that will happen?  Failure?  You’ll be that much closer to success and sooner or later, you will succeed.

Related: Inside Voice – Outside Voice