Progress is success, but trying is failure

Business & Strategy

I’m always intrigued to find when I have adopted separate beliefs, usually from different places, that are seemingly in conflict.

We’ve all heard the adage, “Do or do not. There is no try.” (Thanks, Yoda.)

I think the miniature green Jedi is absolutely correct. When someone tells me they are going to try to eat better, try to get better about posting on social media, try to start a business, etc…

I know they are going to fail.

Not because I am a prophet, and not because I am arrogant. Because I speak from a place of experience. I’ve tried many things in my life.

I’ve failed at every single one of them, and I’ve watched others do the same.

But there’s another important quote that comes from Earl Nightingale:

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

According to the Earl of Personal Development (see what I did there?), one is successful even if they have merely placed themself on the course to their ideal (goal).

That sounds a lot like trying! Is there a logical way to make these ideas work together? Or am I being hopelessly inconsistent?

I believe the conundrum is solved by a person’s beliefs, motives, and degree of intent.

Let’s use an obvious example: Elon Musk.

I believe Nightingale would attribute success to Elon from the moment he began building a rocket ship. Success did not come at some arbitrary point along the way, after the first, second, or 18th rocket was built.

And you can’t say that success came when he figured out the formula for sustainable, reusable rockets (even though it was a focal point), because everyone showed up for work the very next day.

At the same time, Elon Musk did not try to build a rocket. He determined that it was going to happen. And it did.

Why can some of us not lose 10lbs, but Elon Musk is preparing to send his first manned crew to Mars before the end of the decade?

Well, I’m sure any number of factors could be.

For example, Elon is definitely tenacious, has business smarts, and knows how to fundraise. But a lot of people have those skills and aren’t taking them to Mars (while at the same time making a concerted effort to make Earth future-proof through sustainability).

I really believe it comes down to beliefs, motives, and degree of intent.

Regardless of one’s agreement with him, Elon believes that the only way the human race survives long-term is for (1) human beings to become an interplanetary species and (2) for the planet we’ve been given to run on sustainable, renewable energy sources.

Elon has a lot of money, and yet sleeps on factory floors and his friends couches. He is not motivated my money, houses, or nice cars (even though he makes them). He is motivated by his belief that humans need renewable energy and to become multi planetary.

His degree of intent shows in every decision he makes. At multiple points, he risked everything to ensure these visions continued. He made enough after his first major business exit to retire and live a perfectly (more than) comfortable life.

For Elon, there is no try.

Right now, I am learning about real estate investment, because I would like for real estate to become a significant part of my portfolio in the future.

At this point I am still in the exploratory phase of making sure this is something I want to do. But I already know that once I decide to go all in, I must not try. I must do.

If I try, I will fail.

Progress is success, but trying is failure.

Please, I beg of you, stop trying. If you truly want something to happen, make it happen. Progress. But don’t try.

Aug 24, 2022

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Hey, I'm Steve — a Christian, entrepreneur, thinker, and creator. Thanks for stopping by!

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