Author: Anurag Harsh, Founding Exec & SVP at Ziff Davis

As soon as you introduce uncertainty into any relationship, the seeds of doubt quickly germinate and spread their roots. It is often the case that success is reliant on the actions and promises of others – so anyone that may be perceived as unreliable (fairly or unfairly) is often marginalized when the important tasks and projects come along. The ability to deliver on what you promise is one of the most valued attributes of a modern leader.

However, often a solid track record of delivery is not enough when you are seeking to gain and retain the trust of your colleagues and your customers. You have to talk the part. Persuasion and influencing skills are crucial in greasing the cogs of business. We all grasp the importance of how you look and how you act – much of influencing is non-verbal. What you said is purported to have less importance, but there is certainly one word that all good leaders (or aspiring leaders) should avoid like the plague.


As the wise Jedi Master, Yoda, famously said to his doubting trainee Luke Skywalker, faced with the challenge of lifting his x-wing fighter out of the swamp :

“Do, or Do Not. There is No Try.” -Yoda

I could end the blog here as it is pretty self-explanatory (as is Yoda’s custom), but these few words get to the crux of what makes someone successful, so it is worth a few more minutes of reflection.

“Try” is Self-Denigrating

It implies an uncertainty about your ability to complete a task or at best a lack of self-confidence to make it happen. Too many undertakings have been doomed to failure right from the start by using the words “I’ll try.” If you hardwire your brain to give you a potential way out, you are giving yourself an automatic excuse for failure.

By ridding your vocabulary of the word “try”, you make up your mind whether you will do something or not. Everyone has the option of ignoring or rejecting most activities in life. We don’t have to say “yes” to everything. However, if you do say “yes”, you should do everything within your power to accomplish the task. Obstacles will come your way, but you will get around them. Circumstances might change, but you will persevere. Success might be postponed for whatever reason, but you will keep going until you have accomplished what you have set out to do. This mentality is incredibly powerful, but it is also contagious.

When your colleagues know that you are the type of person to make every conceivable effort to be true to their word, they too will be more open with you. Your approach of uncovering every possible stone will encourage them to do the same. Your success in achieving where others have failed will prompt others to wonder why. Their conclusions will often boil down to the same thing.

“He doesn’t “try” to deliver. He does deliver”

Here is where my article gets a little debatable…. Can you change your actions by changing your attitude? Can one small change in your language introduce a ripple effect that affects many crucial areas of your life? Can you take time and circumstances out of the equation by committing to your promises?

I believe that you can. I have seen enough “lightbulb” moments in the careers of colleagues and employees to understand that the absence of this smallest of words can make the biggest of differences. I won’t say “try it.”

I’m sure that you understand why….