There is No Try

After years of both practicing myself and coaching others, leader standard work stands out as one of the most difficult executive level practices to master [Leadership: Art & Science].

The good news is that the potential exists for early returns for yourself and those you lead. Early returns in the form of a steady rhythm and execution of work, a cadence of self-reflections and adjustments, a little less time spent with your face in your email and more time with your mind on strategy, some of your telling the answers replaced with asking a few questions.

The kicker is that you have to do it…every darn day.

I frequently see leader standard work that is not current…often days or even weeks old. When I inquiry as to why, I most often hear that it’s hard but that they are trying.

Sorry…practicing leader standard work and trying leader standard work is not the same thing.  There is no try with leader standard work.  It is way too hard to only try.  It must be practiced consistently.  Why?  Because are talking about developing new habits and reshaping old behaviors.  Talking about practicing forms of leadership that few of us ever had formal training on.  To simply try is to guarantee failure.

This is work that you have to do everyday, over and over.  I promise that you will fail miserably on some days.  Excellent!  Reflect on what you learned and go at it again the next day.  The role and responsibility of a leader is just too critical to leave it to “trying”.

Yoda, the one, told us many years ago “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”


2 thoughts on “There is No Try

  1. Great post, Karl. I couldn’t agree more – especially as you wrote: “to try is to guarantee failure”. I’ve been practicing with removing the word “try” from my vocabulary, as the word “try” often implies an “out” for really doing something. (But note, just as I was writing the previous sentence, I started off writing “I’ve tried to remove the word try…”, but I caught myself and self-corrected.) It’s a useful practice in my home life too. I often use Yoda’s refrain in response to my spouse when he says “I’ll try” to a request.

    So, it is better to commit to what you will practice. Will you, or won’t you? And what will you learn?

    1. Katie, Thanks for the add to the thinking. The path forward is in the commitment to the practice. Thanks, Karl

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