Gwinnett Coaching 



I Don't Know, Try


By: Lynn Bacon, CPLC, CRC, CFC

I don't knowIsn’t it great when just one word will explain something in detail, like, “even though I’m telling you that I had a great time, it really wasn’t all that much fun, but I’m going to tell you that I can’t wait to do it again because that’s what I know you want to hear – but I absolutely don’t mean it.”  In Iran, they have such a word for that: ‘taraf’.   I really wish that we had a word for it in the English language.  

What we do have is the word ‘try’.   ‘Try’ is such an interesting word and concept.  I work with parents and teens most of the time and the word comes up all the time.  What I’ll hear is “okay, Ms. Lynn, I’ll try not to go to parties with alcohol anymore”, or “sure, we can try to have dinner together as a family at least 4 days a week.”   Here’s what I hear:  “okay, Ms. Lynn, if it so happens that there’s something going on that’s way better than a party with alcohol, I’ll go do the other thing and stay away from the party, otherwise I’m just not sure I’ll be able to control that.”    And, “if I feel like cooking or if we all just happen to be here and we feel like being together as a family, we’ll sit down together, but if things are just too hectic, we’re going to have to all go our separate ways.”  

When I have a parent or a teen that presents me with this opportunity, I put my keys in front of them and tell them to try to pick them up.  So they look at me, put their hand out and pick them up and hand them to me.  I tell them “thank you, but that was a fail.  Please try to pick them up.”  So, they look at me.  Put their hand out a little more slowly and pick them up.  Once again, I tell them that they didn’t do it and that it’s not right.  So then, they look at me, stretch their hand out and touch the keys.  Once again, I tell them that they didn’t try to pick up my keys and to try again.  By this time they’re pretty frustrated, and rightfully so, because there is no such thing as ‘try’.  

Yoda is my favorite philosopher and he says it best: “Do. Or do not.  There is no try.”    The teens are always the quickest to get this.  It’s really all about your intent.  If they intend to stay away from alcohol, then they’ll figure out ways to do it.  If they intend to keep partying, that’s exactly what they’ll do, but they won’t be trying to do either one.   We set out with our intent, not with our try.  Saying that I’ll ‘try’ to do anything means that I’m keeping a back door open in case I decide that I don’t want to achieve my goal or something better comes along.  Remember that ‘try’ doesn’t mean ‘attempt’.  ‘Attempt’ has intent behind it and really means that we’re planning on giving it our all within our physical and mental ability.  ‘Try’, not so much.  Think back door.

Our words say a lot more than we think they do.  Another group of words that I hear a lot is ‘I don’t know’.   Now, this set of words has to be thought through a little more than the word ‘try’.   There are two kinds of ‘I don’t know’.  The first is a genuine ‘I don’t know’, like, where did I leave my keys? I don’t know, and that’s a very legitimate answer, at least for me.  Then there’s the kind of ‘I don’t know  that really means “I am going to tell you that I don’t know because I really just don’t want to think through it or take responsibility or accountability for your question, and then you’ll just move on and I’ll be off the hook.”  Teens that I work with haven’t said ‘I don’t know’ in quite some time (big grin).  When a teen says “I don’t know”, I usually say, “Suppose you did know”?  The first answer will be “then, I would tell you?”  Then, I’ll ask again.  It’s amazing; I usually get an answer that we can really talk about!  Every single one of us has our own answers when we take the time and effort to really reach inside and find the answer.  We all have so much to say and communicate about, and I love it when we can get past words that keep us from communicating effectively.  

The big picture is that the meaning of our communication is the response we get.  Are you getting the responses that you want from your communication?  Are you getting all that you want in life?  How are you communicating?  Do you use words like ‘try’ and ‘I don’t know’ in communicating with others?  Even more, do you ACCEPT those words from your family, friends and co-workers?  What would happen if you held yourself and others to a higher standard of words?







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