I'm a little hesitant to bring this up, but my garden is a total mess. Again.

I planted seeds about a month ago, which was way too early. In past seasons, you could get away with early spring planting with no problem. Then, I planted again. Same problem. We had two nights below 30 here in Minnesota in mid May, which is very unusual, and the seeds never germinated. 

Then I brought out the big guns.

My local Lowe's store has a nice stock of  Bonnie plants, which are already visibly growing and ready to be planted in a garden. You have to almost try to not get a garden growing. They're a kickstarter for people like me who are not that patient, don't know enough about the hobby, and prefer to buy food at a grocery store.

All for the cause, right?

As you can imagine, I am learning even more about failure. The word "try" comes to mind. It's not a bad word. It's not a swear word. It's not even that negative. It comes from the late 1600s when people would "try" a garment to see if it fits. It has expanded in its usage ever since, but at times can be a buzzkill. It somehow became a word for people who do not have enough capability or knowledge.

I'd like to go back to the original meaning. We should use it when we are pushing ourselves to attempt something new or testing the waters. We don't know the outcome, so we try. And that makes all of their difference. Mark Zuckerberg "tried" to start a social network. Elon Musk "tried" to build an electric car. They didn't succeed right away. According to an ancient video from his youth, now long deleted, Mark Zuckerberg didn't even seem to know if thefacebook (as it was known then, in all lowercase) would succeed. It was just something he was going to try.

There's a simple recipe for success in business (and in life). You try and then keep trying and then repeat until you succeed. Each "try" should involve a new twist, like me and my Bonnie plants. All failures in life are because someone stopped trying. All failures. There has never been and never will be a success that did not involve trying. And, there will never be a failure in life that does not have some element of not trying anymore. A broken marriage, a failed startup, a stalled book proposal--they all have one element in common. Someone stopped trying.

Let's get ultra-personal for a moment. What are you "trying" to do? Which stage in the process are you in right now? The first try? The second? The tenth? Have you repeated the process a few times? Here's my encouragement. Don't stop trying. Keep going. Realize that all good things that happen in work and life are a result of trying. Read this book about the Wright Brothers. They failed a few times. They failed so often they didn't even realize what success felt like. They were used to failure. And then, suddenly, they succeeded. What if they had stopped after the fourth or fifth "try" with an airplane? We'd all be traveling by train.

It's important to see trying as an experiment, not a last hope.

In my garden example, each "try" leads to some new information. I inch closer and closer to success. Maybe the soil in my area is not rich enough and I need to add more nutrients. Maybe I'm over-watering and I need to back off on the sprinklers a bit. A few other key lessons. Other people have been successful at gardening. I know this because my neighbor has one. I don't have to look too far.

Another realization: There are many experts around and examples to follow. My Lowe's store is just up the road. I'm not "trying" to float above the ground or invent a time machine because no one seems to have any expertise in that or experience. I'm trying to do something that is possible, reasonable, and highly attainable.

What are you "trying" to do?

Published on: May 28, 2016