Friday, March 13, 2015

Why is "Try" a Bad Word?

English Bulldog Portrait, "Otis", my first paid commission
Why do all the motivational types consider the word "try" to be a bad word?  In this post from Inc. Geoffrey James even claims it GUARANTEES failure.

That you are doomed because you leave a door open that your goal won't be reached.  That you are "fooling" yourself, giving yourself permission to fail, blah, blah, blah.

Someone's been watching too much Yoda.

To me, especially in the world of selling, whether it's art, like I do, or opening a restaurant or any other type of entrepreneurial pursuit, there's something unrealistic about declaring you WILL.  So many factors outside of our own control can impact whether we DO or whether we TRY and DON'T DO.  (Thanks, Yoda).  And so many factors that we CAN control are unknown to us UNTIL we try.  Book learning just doesn't teach the lessons that the act of trying does!

Claiming that failure is guaranteed because you leave a door open, a bridge unburned, is being pretty flip and downright snotty.

In my case, I had to try twice to succeed as a portrait artist.  I failed at my first go round.  I simply did not have enough confidence, skill, or experience in either creating the art OR in marketing it.

I needed to fall back, regroup, access my strengths and weaknesses,learn more, then get more money together in a more reliable way (working for lawyers), before I tried again.

TRYING was what taught me what I needed to learn before I tried again.  If I had stubbornly refused to retreat, I wouldn't have had the ammo to go at it again after learning what I needed to learn.  I would have steadfastly refused to step out, step back and use the distance and the clarity of not worrying sales for a while to do what needed to be done.  And if I had failed again, that would have been okay, too.  I would have learned what else was missing from my toolbox.

TRYING is taking a chance, going out on a limb, testing our mettle.  There's a lot of value in that.  I can read everything I can on how to paint a portrait.  If I didn't TRY to paint one myself, I could never succeed.  Saying "I will succeed at painting this portrait" will not make it happen, trying over and over, will.

It's reality. I think Mr. James and his likeminded colleagues are the ones dooming others to failure, if anyone takes them seriously, with making "TRY" a bad word.  What's your dream?  Give it a whirl, a try.  Do your best and see where you land.  If you have to back out, there's nothing to be ashamed of.  TRYING is an action, and even if it doesn't work out this time, it will still have moved your dream forward!

I'm Philadelphia area pet and house portrait painter, Robin Zebley.  After trying and failing, and trying again, I have painted more than 500 portrait commissions all over the U.S, thanks to the internet.  This is my blog about the art life, animals and other thoughts!  My house and pet portraits are at, stop by!  Robin.   See below!

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