Do or Do Not. There Is No Try


When Yoda speaks, we should listen.

(Today is a guest post by author and entrepreneur Steve Rice. Thank you Steve!)

“I’ll try” or “I’m trying” is a cop-out as Yoda points out in this succinct insight from Star Wars.

It is a way for us to hedge our bets on life. The problem is that life is an “all in” game.  There are no hedged bets. You have to play through. There is no other option.

Take Action in the Face of Fear

Facing fear head-on can be debilitating. In college, I remember walking to my freshman speech class in a cold sweat, with my legs shaking and heart pounding. I bargained with myself. If I can just get through this, I won’t ever have to speak in public again.

Fate has a cruel sense of humor.

Two years after I graduated, a friend encouraged me to join her Toastmasters club.  I didn’t know very much about the Toastmasters organization.

She described it as a communications and leadership organization focused on personal development. I was intrigued by the “personal development” part, and I guess I kinda glossed over the “communications” part!

Despite my fear of public speaking, I decided to stick it out. My skills improved, and I gained greater confidence in my speech making abilities. I went on to lead the club and represent it in various speech competitions.

Create Positive Experience “Landmarks”

What I found in facing my fear of giving a public presentation is that taking direct action by doing the thing I feared most allowed me to construct positive experience “landmarks” (ie positive feedback and applause) around the feared action.

These positive experience landmarks helped me build a different relationship with my fear. Instead of being paralyzed by it, I could look back and see the progress I had made in spite of it.

These landmarks them motivated me to continue building my skills.  As my skills increased, so did my confidence.  As my confidence increased, my fear in the unknown abated and my general anxiety subsided.

Take Action to Make a Difference

After a few years in the Toastmaster’s club, I was elected the president of the club.  One of the tasks with which I was entrusted was spearheading a charitable project during the holiday season.

The club decided to sponsor a family in need and provide gifts, food and funds to help ease them through the holidays.  I wanted to find a way to give beyond what I could do personally and what our small club could do as a group.

I wanted to make a bigger impact, so I approached the company of one of our members as well as the company for which I worked and challenged them each to match the donations of our small club.  We were able to raise over $3,000 by combining our efforts.

Taking action to reach out and make a difference in someone else’s life creates momentum in your own in a couple of ways.

1. It causes you to take attention off of yourself and your own anxieties. 

It makes you face the fear of what others will say or think about you. It allows you to disregard the judgments others may make of you or your motives.

2. It also inspires others to jump on board.

We are all looking for leadership. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

When someone stands up and says, “Okay, here’s the plan…” and articulates it well, we want to be a part of that.

When you face your own fear to impact the lives of others, you position yourself in a unique place of leadership.

Take Action in the Face of Failure

What if you have already faced your fears?  What if you grabbed the bull by the horns and got emotionally and psychologically gored?

This will happen. It is part of the process.  You can choose to make it mean something greater than it does. You can call into question your own beliefs, motives and intention. Or you can recognize it as part of the experience and decline to judge it (or yourself).  Essentially, you can give yourself some space to breathe and grow.

I failed this week!  I faced my fear and uncertainty. I was not successful.

I interviewed for a great job opportunity at a local company. It is a wonderful job that would have allowed me to use my public speaking skills and would have challenge me to grow beyond my comfort zone.

“We’ll be in touch regarding the next step,” they said. They haven’t been in touch.

“Do or Do Not”  I had two options. So do you. Always.

One of my biggest goals this year is to build my business of helping others to craft a well-lived life into a stable, sustainable and supportive foundation of my life’s mission: to give hope.



Do Not

It really is that simple…and that difficult.

Here I sit at the back door of Failure with these two options. The question I asked myself, and that I ask you today is:

What are you going to do now?

When you fail, what will you choose?  You always have the choice. You can choose to blame and make excuses.  You can choose to settle.

You can talk about how hard you tried and how you’ll try again.  Or, you can do–take action.

Ultimately, there is really only one choice.  Even if you choose choose not to take action, you have chosen the alternative which is to settle.  In both cases you are “doing”.

Doing nothing is really an active choice of antipathy, ambivalence and apathy.  To “do not” is to try to play safe in a game that doesn’t have a safe mode.  Life is not safe. Life is only “on.”  You grow or you die.

I’m not talking about the future. I’m not asking what you will do or might do.

What is your choice? You make it each day.  You choose in each and every moment.

The blessing of this realization is that you can choose differently in each and every moment.

Will you take action in spite of your fear? Will you take action that makes a difference in your own life and the lives of others? Will you take action in the face of failure?

Choose wisely.  Remember that life is always “all in”. There is no try!

Steve Rice is the owner of True Spiritual Awakening.  He is an author and entrepreneur committed to creating a well-lived life and helping others to do the same by helping them bridge the gap between abstract philosophy and practical, hands-on tools which, together, create a life of momentum.

You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook


Photo by Angelo

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38 responses to Do or Do Not. There Is No Try

  1. Benny, thanks once again for the awesome opportunity to connect here at Get Busy Living. I appreciate the warm welcome!

  2. Michael Peddycord March 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

    You’re right, Steve. There really is only one choice. Most folks generally overcomplicate their choices when it comes down to one simple distinction. “DO” or “DO NOT”. Great post!

    • Hi, Michael. Thanks for stopping by. You should definitely bookmark Benny’s site. He’s one of my “do” heroes. He doesn’t know the meaning of “do not”.

      He’s always figuring out what works and what doesn’t and then applying great resolve to make amazing things happen. If you need great inspiration, this is the place!

      You’re right, we often over-complicate our options. For me, I find that I do this because I am afraid. Sometimes, if I clutter my mind with options, then I can stew in indecision and not feel so badly because I have “so many options” to sort through.

      Do you find this happens to you? What are the tricks or techniques you use to help yourself stay clear and make a sound decision when you’re facing choices?

  3. So true, we should eradicate “try” from our vocabulary. Either you do it or you don’t, you’re in or you’re out! Thanks for the great reminders!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Petrea. It really is that simple…but it’s never that easy, is it? LOL. It’s just so easy for me to make excuses about why what I “tried” didn’t work. I guess that overcoming those obstacles is part of the human experience…but it sure can be frustrating sometimes.

  4. Hello Steve, Nice to meet you.
    I love the theme of this post. I’m no adrenaline junky but i have been known to be a little adventurous and do scary things.

    Fear is a funny thing but once you stare fear in the face a few times you become better and better at facing and Doing the things that most scare you. The fear never really goes away you just deal with it. There is so much satisfaction in doing something that is scary vs the feeling of playing it safe. Thanks and i’ll stop by your site.

    • Hi, Annie! Good to “meet” you too! 🙂 I so appreciate your comment and look forward to connecting with you. (Thanks for taking time to stop by my site)

      I just finished writing an article about courage. You are right. After facing fear a few times it becomes easier. I think most of us know that part intuitively. It’s just so terrifying to get to that “easier” point.

      That feeling of accomplishment really is strong incentive once you have a “taste” of it. I guess that’s what I was meaning about creating positive experience landmarks. When we have psychological experiences we can match up with feelings of success, it makes facing potential failure all that much better!

      How do you balance the two? (The drive for that feeling of accomplishment and the fear of the unknown?) How do you motivate yourself to move forward…especially if you haven’t experienced something before?

      • Steve,
        Good question. I always tell people that if they want to do something but are scared or worried than what they can do is work their way up to it. Start with something small that scares them, get some momentum going. KInd of like testing the waters. Then jump!! Kind of simplified version but fear is all in our head and if we give ourselves little wins it really helps to give us the courage to take the next step.

        • Really good advice, Annie! It’s all about taking those small steps. I tell people to take the next visible step. It’s about doing what we can see and what we know to do.

          Thanks so much for the awesome insight.

  5. This article really struck a cord with me in regards to the fear of public speaking bit. I was surprised to hear that you, of all people, had it too. I remember dreading Rhetoric in college for this very reason. But now with my current job, I’m asked to speak publicly on a number of different topics. I’m given the choice but I always choose yes because it’s something I’m passionate about, even though I’m struck with a great fear when I initially make the decision. In the end, choosing the “do” option always creates for a much more positive life-changing outcome than the “do not” option.

    This, however, is but one aspect of life. It was nice reading your article to remind myself to keep this same “do” attitude for other aspects in my life as well.

    Thanks for the post!

    • I know what you mean, J. Turns out my greatest insecurity has become one of my biggest strengths.

      I love what you said about choosing “yes” because it’s what you’re passionate about. That’s the key. It makes the fear subside when you lose focus on yourself and focus instead on what you’re passionate about.

      You picked up on another great tool. When we experience success in one area of life, it’s a good idea to use that success and move it to other areas as well.

      Those positive experience landmarks are powerful for creating additional success.

  6. Steve has written some lovely tips here and I’m going to be re-reading it as usual to get the main picture and pick out some useful point.


  7. What a great post! Action is key to success. Very true.

    • Hi, Ryan! Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate the kind comment and confirmation.

      I agree with you that action is the key to success, however sometimes it’s hard to get that action started when mired in fear.

      How have you been able to get momentum started in your life when you’re facing fear? Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to keep focused?

  8. Great stuff — I too fall into this category of thinking “you either do it or you don’t.”

    Sometimes I wonder if my black and white vision of the world is a bit myopic, but I consider it a strength in many ways.

    Steve, what would your advice be to people who constantly find the grey area? “Grey area” people tend to be big on excuses, and I have plenty of friends who are always saying “It’s not that simple..”. I’m the annoying person who is always saying, no, it REALLY is that simple. Just pick something and go with it.

    • Hi, Alexander. Thanks so much for your comment.

      You called me out, buddy. I’m a “gray” person! The reason I can write about excuses is primarily because we teach what we “most need to learn”!

      Like you with a black/white personality, I see my “grayness” as a strength in the right context. For example, I’m able to see an issue (or several) from a huge number of points of view. I’m also able to stomach a lot of disagreement with my point of view because I don’t feel tied to the idea that it’s “my way, or the highway”.

      This gives me a good perspective of the world. But you are right, too often this, like anything can be used to escape reality. The “It’s just not that simple” can cloud the options to the point that a person becomes paralyzed.

      My advice then (to you) would be to add “to you” at the end of the statement.

      Every time a friend says, “It’s not that simple,” add “to you” on the end of the statement.

      And recognize that it really isn’t…to them. That’s okay. It was hard for me to get to that place, because I want all my friends (and loved ones) to live an amazing life.

      But then I realized that I’m not responsible for the type of job that they choose to live. It’s tough to step back, but it’s necessary.

      I have a family member that I see 2-3 times a year. Every time we meet, the person asks how things are going, and I say, “good.”

      Then the family member launches into a litany of hopes, dreams and aspirations that are unfulfilled. About 3 years ago, I offered as much love and encouragement and tips as I could to help the person gain momentum.

      After several years, I have found that what is most needed is a listening ear and a kind heart. So I offer that. When the time is right, she will make the decisions she needs to in order to change her life….Or, she won’t.

      And I’ve found in the long run that it’s more effective to “do” rather than to “say” in those circumstances. So I just live my life. The ones who are looking for a different way will find me and I can be an inspiration to them.

      The rest, I just listen to and sympathize with.

      WHat about you? Have you ever found your friends who are “gray” open to your guidance and input? Have you found any way of effectively influencing them without nagging them to death? Just curiosity.

  9. Hey Benny, Hey Steve,
    This post is such a motivational read. I loved it. I think those who try to help and motivate and bring to light these points are so terrifc!. Motivation is such a tenuous thing. If you have it you’re blessed . If you have it I think it’s your duty and misson to give it or help others attain it, to find theirs. I try with my blog. Benny, I am always happy to come here. I ALWAYS, ALWAYS leave feeling inspired and stronger!!. Thank you both !

    • Hi Colleen! Thanks so much for your kind encouragement. Benny’s site is awesome. That’s why I was so grateful for the opportunity to connect with you as a reader!

      It’s so wonderful that the inspiration you bring to the world is strengthened by this post. It makes all that I do worth it.

      Please feel free to connect on FB or Twitter. I’m going to jump over now and scope out your site! 🙂

  10. Great post, Steve. We often hear in life to try and give it our best but in reality, it doesn’t ease the pain of defeat. It really is all about do or do not. The fear of failure should motivate us to prepare so well that the chances of failure are negligible.


    • Thanks, Jean!

      You are right. Giving your best effort doesn’t matter when expectations are not met! “Defeat” is agonizing no matter how much effort was taken to prevent the failure.

      I think your point about preparation is vital…and I think often, creative, “big-picture” thinkers (like myself) skimp WAY too much on the prep work.

      Ultimately, I think it takes prep work internally as well. One has to consider failure and what that means before it happens. If I have a backup plan in place, then instead of having a meltdown, I can shift directions more quickly.

      How do you plan “worse case” scenarios for a new project? Do you plan it all out ahead of time or do you prepare for it mentally? Have you had success in this regard?

  11. Great post steve.

    I really like the phrase “You do it or you don’t” There is no trying. Yes! the growth that has ever happened to you was when you faced the fear and fought with it. I have never achieved anything that i accepted at the initial stage. All went through fear and i fought with them to gain the target desired. The best part is we need to feel the fear,accept it and do it anyway. If you haven’t done anything that fears you, you haven’t seen what the world has to offer you. Yes! it might sound easy writing or reading but the best part is doing. Don’t read this comment just get outside and explore or do at least one thing that fears you. Otherwise i don’t see any point on reading post on fear and not even giving it a try. What’s you say?

    • I agree. I think the biggest truth you presented is that we need to “feel the fear, accept it and do it anyway”

      It is easy to sit back and write about and talk about it. I did that for a long time…but the true power comes in the doing.

      Each person knows when he or she is “faking” it. When you’re not being real with yourself, it leads to feelings of insecurity. When you know that you’ve given everything you have to give, then you know that you can make it.

      Thanks for the great and insightful comment.

  12. Love this post Steve. I’ve been facing fears for years….a lot more in the past 5 or so….in the beginning I’d say there was more of the ‘trying’, but now I’m ‘all in’. But guess I had to see what ‘trying’ was like first :).

    I’ve thought about Toastmasters bc I want to be able to speak well in front of others…..but that is a fear I’m not ‘all in’ yet. Hopefully I will be one day.

    thx again! and thx for having me pop by over to this great site :).

    • Hi, Gina! We’re playing follow the leader all over the web today. FB, Benny’s site, Spreecast! LOL. So thankful you stopped in. Have you stopped by Benny’s site before? If not, I recommend it. He’s a real inspiration.

      So proud of you facing your fears. It starts one step at a time. Once you gain some confidence trying, it makes it easier and easier to commit.

      I *highly* recommend Toastmasters. However, I recommend visiting several clubs in your area to find the best one…and the one you’ll feel you can grow most with. I was lucky to find mine serendipitously.

      The good thing about TM is that you can grow at your own pace…It starts with just a simple personal introduction. “Hi, my name is Gina and this is what I’m interested in….and this is what I do for a living. I have a family, etc.” (Very basic)…and they walk you through step by step to add a basic skill each new presentation you give (like humorous speaking, inspirational speaking, speaking with a prop, informational speaking). Surprisingly, I felt most weak as a humorous speaker, but it actually became one of my strengths toward the end….anyway, i won’t keep going on the sales pitch! 🙂

      You will get there, I’m sure. What is it that you are most hesitant about with joining a TM club or doing public speaking?

      • ha, I know! Next we’ll have to play hide-n-go-seek lol.

        I’m hesitant by a couple things….

        1. I’ve had lyme’s dis-ease twice and I have grave’s dis-ease; unfortunately, both affect memory. So I ‘fear’ losing my train of thought – but I know if I’m ‘all in’ I’ll practice so that I know it like the back of my hand. (I’m not great at impromptu stuff)
        2. I have a very soft voice….so I’d probably need a headset with a microphone to speak so people could hear me, lol and my voice also doesn’t last long……..(this may have something to do with the throat chakra/graves, which affects the thyroid which is in the throat) so I’m working on it.

        Two things I know that I can overcome. 🙂

        • Ah…this makes perfect sense. If I can speak practically to the first one…just with some advice I hope eases your fears.

          Every speech you give, you can have notes. What I would recommend is have “landmark points” in your outline. I do this myself because the memory can lapse on anyone…or a train of thought gets derailed.

          With certain “landmark” transition points, you can easily redirect right into the speech again and no one in the audience is any the wiser. (Unless you tell them). Of course it takes a bit of practice to become really smooth at this, but you can do it. Thinking on your feet might be one of your most powerful assets by the time you’re done!

          Honestly, sometimes over preparedness is more awkward because you’re unable to react effectively to the shifts in an audience or in yourself.

          I am very confident for you and I know you can overcome these things too, because you’re already so aware and conscious of them. Consciousness itself is a great healer.

          Good thing about TM is that most of the standard speeches are 3-5 or 5-7 minutes. And the help you stay in those guidelines.

          Soon, you’ll find that it’s difficult to stay within the boundaries of time. LOL. 🙂 And it should be just fine for your voice.

          Most of the TM clubs I’ve seen are 15-20 people…so you don’t have to project much. 🙂

          The more knowledge you have, often the more your fears of the “unknown” are mitigated. I hope that a little more information begins to give you more “knowns”.

          It’s definitely something you should do. 🙂

          If you decide to visit some clubs, let me know. Would love to hear what your experience is.

  13. These are really helpful nuggets of wisdom. I’ll keep them in mind so whenever I encounter fear or something terrible, I would be able to handle it. Do you have something to share about conquering phobias?


    • Hi, Velize. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by. I think dealing with a phobia is a little bit different than facing a fear of moving forward in life.

      I’m not a therapist, but if I had a specific phobia or set of phobias, I would find a good therapist that I trusted or a specialist who focuses on phobias.

      I think it’s ultimately about having the right tools. With phobias, a good therapist would be able to provide me with the set of tools I could use to move forward in spite of my phobias.

  14. I believe in the art of Trying, If you have faith in your self that you can do it perhaps control your fear and mindset a positivity, then you can do that thing that you can’t expect. Not all are blessed with confidence to do such public speaking or becoming an actor or actress. It’s the inner feeling within that pushes you to be who you want to be. They say; Unleashing the Hidden Power within, we have these abilities that needs to be honed or to be discover within us. It takes a positive outlook to make things happened better.

    • Hi, Lyka!

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing. I agree that not everyone has the natural self-confidence to be a public speaker or other high-profile personality. But I think that all of us can surprise ourselves and expand our confidence by taking on the things we think might be impossible to us. And it all comes down to what you identified at the end of your comment…”it takes a positive outlook to make things happen!”

      Good point!

  15. Master Yoda knows well. It’s do or do not. If it’s important enough we will just do!
    Noch Noch

  16. Hi Steve and Benny,
    Steve I liked this post a lot. I have the same way of thinking as you. I believe that fear is always there whenever it comes to take serious decisions in life. Therefore it is a matter of choice if we make progress or not in our life. Nowadays I feel that many people don’t choose, they just follow others.
    Some they keep that way of doing things for ever but fortunately some others discover that they way of doing things is not aligned with what they really want and so they make their revolution.
    Just for your information my blog is really aligned with what you describe here. I am glad to read this article. I have recently written a post with the title Don’t risk to skip your dreams that may interest you.
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • Thank you so much, Lenia. I think you’re right. A lot of people follow others, but what they don’t realize is that by following they *are* choosing…just not very intentionally, if that makes sense.

      I will jump over and check out your blog for sure. Thanks for sharing the recommendation.

  17. I really loved this post, Steve!

    In the past 5 years I have started replacing the word “try” with “choose”. Instead of trying to do something different, I am choosing to do something different. Choosing helps me recognize the difference between a dream or desire, and empowered action.

    I also choose to focus not on the result I hope to gain from my actions, but my actions themselves. One thing that holds people back when it comes to trying is being focused on the outcome, not the action. It’s much more intimidating to focus on the outcome, especially if we may feel like we are a failure if we don’t achieve the outcome we wanted.

    On the topic of Toastmasters, I’ve recently joined the organization myself and I LOVE it! We’re a newly chartered club with only one experienced Toastmaster and so I found myself serving the role of Toastmaster of the Day at our last meeting. I was very nervous- I haven’t even given my first prepared speech- but I did it and I’m proud of myself for doing it despite my fears I might not be very good.

    Thanks again for sharing this awesome perspective on facing fears and doing instead of trying!

    Have a grateful day!


    • Hiya Chrysta!

      Thanks for stopping by my post on Benny’s site. He’s a great guy to stay connected with if you’re not already reading his stuff!

      Great point about outcomes…we can’t control them anyway, and it just becomes so frustrating to try. I always say that the “how” is better left in hands larger than my own! 🙂

      Congratulations on facing that little fear! I’m so excited for your new club. Please keep me posted on my page or periodically on my site how things are going.

      You’ll find that as you overcome these little challenges, your confidence will build and you’ll soon be a seasoned speaker. It’s great!

      You never know where it could take you! SO proud of you…if you could see me, I’m beaming! 🙂

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