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Words are powerful and while there may be standard definitions in the dictionary, it is our perspectives, experiences and more that contribute to what we make them mean. I believe in the power of words – to motivate, to inspire, to create. They can also have the opposite effect. They can cause limitations, pain, and destruction.

When I’m working with my clients, we often focus on building awareness around the word choices they are making. It’s all part of raising consciousness. While coaching is extremely client-centered and follows their agenda, in service to those I work with there are a couple of words on my prefer not to use list.

In one of my first guest blogs for another organization, I wrote a two part post on transforming hope into possibility. Possibility was my solution to finding a more empowering word than what hope has to offer. For some time now, I’ve been searching for a similar solution to the word “try”.  I’m with Yoda on that one,

Do. Or do not. There is no try.

I understand what people are attempting to say when they say they will try. They are willing to put a certain amount of energy and resources into taking an action. It often indicates an uncertainty they have about the outcome. Imagine you have some pencils on a desk in front of you. There is no way to actually ‘try’ to pick one up. You either pick it up or you don’t. There is no such action as ‘try’.

To me, trying isn’t “coachable”. I can’t discern how much someone is truly aligned with taking an action when they come at it from saying they will try to take an action toward their goal. And then finally, I realized…if we shift from using try to putting effort into something, it can truly transform the experience and outcome.

Asking ourselves, ‘how much effort am I willing to put into ___” creates a much greater opportunity to make conscious choices about the thoughts we’re willing to focus on, the relationships in our lives and the actions we are taking or about to take. To me, trying is an iffy, limbo like place to exist in…maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

If instead I evaluate how much effort I am willing to invest, I have the opportunity to check in with my priorities, values and goals to see if the thought, action or relationship aligns with what I’m really up to.

So, how willing are you to invest in transforming your use of the word “try” into the concept of “effort” and how might that change things for you?

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