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Stop “Trying” Hard and Start “Doing” Well

This is my monthly column for the Kitsap Sun…Unleashed_Leadership

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

By now you’re all familiar with the wisdom of that great Jedi Master, Yoda. With the new Star Wars movie out this month, I thought there might be no better way to begin my column than with his out-of-this-galaxy insight, which coincidentally is completely correct.

Here’s the problem. Too many people believe that “doing” is trying harder. You might hear an employee (or your child) exclaim, “I’m trying,” only to be met with your rejoinder to “try harder,” as if that was the magic elixir to actually doing. It’s not; it’s just a great way to find failure faster.

“Trying harder” is perilous to success. The reason is threefold:

1. Trying harder is accompanied often by desperation. The consequences of not succeeding will be met with some calamity – usually internally created by the person trying harder. Desperation leads to “pressing.” If you’ve ever played sports, you know that “pressing” rarely leads to success because the pressure is too great.

2. Trying harder leads to taking imprudent chances. Taking risks and being bold is fine. Reaching too far by throwing the proverbial Hail Mary into the end zone regularly fails. Unlike football games, the repercussions of these attempts can have long lasting effects on confidence and performance.

3. Trying harder leads to bad habits. Instead of focusing on what does lead to “doing,” the focus is on overcoming and surviving the constant pressure. This leads to burnout, apathy and disillusionment.

So how do we get to more consistent doing? I’m glad you asked! Here is my simple Unleashed 7-Step process to help you and your employees (and even children) eliminate “trying hard,” and get more done:

1. Relax. Really. I’ve worked with many clients that put an inordinate amount of pressure on themselves. The reality is that for the vast majority of us, we aren’t dealing with life and death. Having a healthy perspective on your business, your career and your life is critical to relaxing and not taking yourself or your situation too seriously.

2. Focus on activities and behaviors. Lack of discipline, not lack of talent, is the main adversary to getting things done. Too many times, we focus on the end results rather than the small but necessary activities and behaviors required to reach those objectives. Focus on daily improvement and you’ll eventually surpass your original goal.

3. Change your self-talk. We are often guilty of being our worst critics. You would never accept negative and destructive language from someone else, but each of us has freely heaped it on ourselves. Influence begins from within. Have the discipline to self-control to talk to yourself with motivation rather than malice.

4. Reward yourself for small achievements. In order to “do” big things, you will have needed to accomplish many little things along the way. Invest time in rewarding yourself. It can be small, but make it meaningful. This builds confidence, promotes positive self-talk, and drives momentum.

5. Invest in yourself – Get help. I’ve known many a “do-it-yourselfer” who wants to eschew help from anyone. These people try hard, and when things don’t work try even harder. The problem is they are trying harder doing the wrong things. The smartest people I’ve known have invested in themselves through coaching, mentoring and mastermind groups. You can’t be brilliant by yourself.

6. Be resilient in setbacks. Almost nothing gets done without a few hurdles. Projects, goals and objectives will all face some crisis, setback or calamity. Simply being able to persevere in these challenges is “doing.” You need to have the mindset to plan failures and defeats into your process, so that when they do occur, you won’t succumb. Those that are “doers” are the ones that know how to react and respond to crisis and learn from failures because they’ve planned for it.

7. Have fun. Life is too short to be burdened by anxiety and stress. I know, that’s easier said than done, right? The reality is that many people simply are trying hard because they want a better life, a better lifestyle or a better situation. This isn’t the right mindset. Instead, people need to concentrate on what they are passionate about; what brings enjoyment to their lives. Are you having fun? If not, then it’s really easy to say you’re trying hard. It’s amazing what happens and what gets done when you’re having fun!

Here’s the deal: Trying hard has nothing to do with work ethic. It has nothing to do with “buckling down” or pressing your “nose to the grindstone.” It’s really just an excuse for not accomplishing your goals. “Doing” is done when one focuses attention like a laser on those things that they really strive to attain, have a purpose, develop a plan, and decide that they will accomplish regardless of what stands in their way. Those that are “doers” have common denominators like boldness, confidence and perspective. They also tend not to be perfectionists. Instead they understand their skills and talents, do the best they can every day, accept that failure is part of the process, and strive to be just a little bit better every day doing what they love.

If you do all of that, you’ll stop trying hard and have time to enjoy the fruits of your doing.

© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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