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Hi, I'm Sean Oliver.

I'm a product marketer living in San Francisco, CA and working at Optimizely. This is my personal blog where I write about marketing, startups, and life.

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Sean Oliver

Why to Try

No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.

Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, 1980

Yoda’s immortal words reflect a flawed situation in American society: We’ve stopped trying. We’ve stopped trying, and instead, we’ve started doing.

We’ve started doing because doing implies finishing and—more importantly—succeeding. Trying, on the other hand, means that you’re struggling. It indicates you could fail at any moment.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you catch a ride with a friend who tries to drive?
  • Would you hire someone who tries to work?
  • Would you agree to surgery from a doctor who tries to operate?

Probably not. Why would you? After all, if you’re trying, you’re struggling. And if you’re struggling, you’re probably about to fail.

But this line of thinking overlooks this simple fact: Everyone must try before they can do.

Trying is how we learn. It’s how we explore. It’s how we improve. It’s how we discover things about ourselves and about the world.

Now, ask yourself these questions:

  • What would the world look like if Leonardo da Vinci never tried to paint?
  • Where would we be if Steve Jobs never tried to sell a computer?
  • What if Martin Luther King, Jr. never tried to raise his voice?

For each of these people, there was a period during which they needed to try before they could start doing. However in today’s overly critical society, it can be hard to find the motivation to try, to pursue new interests, and to go after big ideas (or small ones).

But if you don’t try, you won’t do. And if you don’t do, you won’t succeed.

So try.