Trying is harmful

Do, or do not. There is no try.
(Master Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back)

  • We’ll try to meet tomorrow
  • I’ll try to be on time
  • We try to improve every day
  • I’ll try not to let you down

The verb ‘to try‘ is the shield behind which we hide when we are not sure, when we don’t really feel like doing something, when we try to avoid uncertainty, when we don’t want to make a commitment.

The verb ‘to try‘ is a wild card, is the way we can walk through without burning any bridges.

Up to what point does inserting to try into the sentence affects our mood, our will, the results of our actions?

Are we doing our best when we are just trying? Or are our words leading to a path of failure?

How different do the words sound when we rule the lack of commitment, the laziness and the fear out!

  • We’ll meet tomorrow
  • I’ll be on time
  • We improve every day
  • I won’t let you down

How different do they sound when we stop trying and start doing!


Fast vs Cheap vs Good and the Covey Quadrant

GOOD CHEAP FAST: You can pick any two

As the sign says, you can offer three kinds of service:

  1. Good and Fast (and expensive)
  2. Good and Cheap (and slow)
  3. Bad, but cheap and fast

The sign says you must choose one of the three. Please, don’t.

If your company needs to be able to keep pace in the long run, if you want it to be a great place to work in, you simply CAN’T AFFORD the cost of offering cheap and fast BAD service.

Bad service will give you angry customers in the long run, when they’d forgotten about how cheap and fast you were, but everyday remembers how bad you were.

Fast and cheap is easy to do, as long as good is not a requirement. Besides, there always be one competitor out there who is willing to offer cheaper and faster bad service than yours.

By the way, here is Stephen Covey’s matrix.


Quadrant 1, the important and urgent things, is what allows you to serve good and fast.

Quadrant 3 is representing cheap and fast service.

Nevermind about point 4. Just don’t do it.

Finally, quadrant 2, non urgent and important things, is what will give you the chance to offer good and cheap (in the long run).


What quadrant of the matrix are you willing to live your life into?

Quote: when everything is on fire, you’d better calm down

Men in Black. Jay, the rookie, have found out the problem and is doing everything he can, to solve it. Kay, the veteran, tells Jay off because Jay’s lost his temper.

Kay: We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public!
Jay: Man, we ain’t got time for this cover-up bullshit! I don’t know whether or not you’ve forgotten, but there’s an Arquillian Battle Cruiser that’s about to…
Kay: There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!

Every workday you’ll need to put out some sort of fire. If you don’t calm down and think, you’ll be lost among the flames.
Things like planning or risk management were invented for these kind of emergencies. They’re not things you should get rid off when you are in ‘panic mode’. You can’t afford arriving late because of a shortcut you take.

When there is trouble ahead, think first, then act.
And if your job matters enough, there will always be trouble.

Why are you doing what you are doing (2)?

Matlab, the computing environment, had quite a nice sense of humor while presenting examples of applications to do with it. From drawing a penny to simulate the flushing flux of a toilet, a list of hidden commands will give you some interesting hints about how to use the environment.

But my favorite was always the why funcion. I could imagine a pair of mathematicians implementing the environment, reaching a dead-end on a development or failing to find the origin of a bug on the software. They both ask why the system is failing. Why they can’t find the error. Why do they need to implement this part of the system in the first place. Why. Why! WHYYYY!!!

And then, one told the other, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there where an automatic way for finding it out?”. And the other one smiled. “Let’s work on it”.

Matlab’s why function is just a random generator of answers to this typical question. Things like “Because she asked some system manager” or “Because Bill wanted it this way”.

The funny idea and the random answers don’t hide the fact that we need to know why. Besides, we need to ask why. We need to know if we’re doing what we should be doing.

If you’re not doing it because of this, maybe you should stop doing it. And start doing the right thing you only can do.

In fact, one of the randomly-generated answers to Matlab’s why function is “Don’t you have something better to do?”

Why are you doing what you are doing?

Batman: It’s just something I have to do.
Vicky Vale: Why?
Batman: Because nobody else can.

Bruce Wayne: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do?
Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. […] that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.

Why are you doing what you are doing?

  • You aren’t doing it because they told you to do it.
  • You aren’t doing it because you think you should.
  • You aren’t doing it because they’re paying you to do it.
  • You aren’t doing it because you think it needs to be done.

You are doing it because you know it’s the right thing to do, and because if you didn’t do it, nobody else would.

If you’re not doing it because of that, maybe you should stop doing it. And start doing the right thing you only can do.

Quote on overcoming obstacles through terror

You have to anticipate and embrace the inevitable sensation of fear. You will feel fear for sure. And you will feel risk. None of those daydreams where you imagine yourself in a movie of your own success, just happen without that zone and period of risk and terror. (Edward Norton, on his entrepreneurship facet)

Don’t expect you will stop being afraid. On your career, every move has its own risk. You have to learn to deal with it, the sooner, the better. Turn your fear into fuel, and keep on working.

Your boss doesn’t need you to tell her she is right

Henry Dobson is a character from House M.D. series. In the fourth episode of season#4, House dismissed him after making a series of RIGHT decisions on a patient’s treatment.

Just before Dr. House finishes telling him he is fired, Henry, the old applicant tells House:

“you don’t need someone to tell you what you’re already thinking”

Take that into account. Your boss knows what she knows. She agrees with herself. And if the best thing you can do is to tell her she is right, you are, at best, being shortsighted.

Telling someone that she is wrong is hard, and you need to be brave and smart for doing it. But for your boss, this is priceless.

By the way, if discussing with subordinates is a problem for your boss, you’d better start searching for a braver and smarter new boss.

Related: Quote on creative complaining. Saving Private Ryan.