Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did You Really Try? Or Did You Just Give Up?

Daniel Saltman MyWifeQuit

“Oh yeah, I tried being an entrepreneur a few years back but it was just too hard.”

“I tried the whole blogging thing but couldn’t get it off the ground”

“I tried learning how to program PHP but I never could get the hang of it”

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve become increasingly sensitive to people complaining about how things are just too difficult. Whenever I hear statements like the ones above, I can’t help but think to myself


Photo by blackoutinred

  • How hard did you really try?
  • How much time and effort did you actually spend?
  • Did you just give up after encountering the first obstacle?

Call me a skeptic, but I honestly believe that 90% of the time people complain about their failures and give up because they don’t really give things a chance.

Case In Point

“Oh yeah, I tried being an entrepreneur a few years back but it never went anywhere”

When I challenged the acquaintance of mine who made this statement, he showed me his website and claimed that he spent over 6 months working on his online store but never sold a single thing. Wow, a whole 6 months huh?

When I went to take a look at his website, I was appalled. Not only did his online store look like complete and utter crap, but it appeared as though he spent little or no effort writing his product copy or marketing his store. To make matters worse, his product photos were all pixelated and distorted. It was no wonder that he never sold a single thing! What’s strange is that I always thought of this person as an intelligent individual. Was this garbage of a website really the result of his best efforts?

“I tried the whole blogging thing but couldn’t get it off the ground”

Newbie bloggers are notorious for giving up so I naturally asked to see the so called blog that my friend could not get off the ground. Turns out that he only had like 10 blog entries and he was using the default Wordpress theme! Not only that, but his about and contact page still had the Wordpress defaults! Given the state of his blog, how could he possibly have considered this trying?

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“I tried learning how to program PHP but I never could get the hang of it”

Programming can sometimes be difficult to master so when one of my acquaintances made the above statement, I was sincerely willing to help him out and answer whatever programming questions he had.

I started out by asking him some very basic questions on where he got stuck and tried to introduce him to some of the simpler concepts of programming. Turns out that he didn’t understand a single thing that I was talking about. When I asked him how he tried to learn how to program, he told me that he tried to teach himself PHP by looking at some open source PHP code. What!?! You can’t just learn a language by looking at some arbitrary code. Why didn’t he pick up a book and start with the basics? How could he possibly call this trying to learn the language?

What Does It Mean To Try?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve encountered that claim to have tried something but never put out their best efforts. These people don’t give things their all and when they get stuck, they immediately write things off. In fact, the people that complain the most are the ones who give up before even trying. They bitch and moan about external factors when in fact they themselves are to blame for failing.

So if trying is more than just going through the motions, what exactly does it mean to try?

Trying Is Not Quitting At The First Obstacle

You can’t really claim to have tried something until you’ve overcome at least a few major obstacles. Most people who don’t try give up at the first sign of danger. They hit their first obstacle like a brick wall and then start making excuses.

Trying is sticking with something even though you feel like total crap. Those who have read my story know that our online store didn’t make very many sales during the first few months of operation and we contemplated closing up shop. No one could find our store online and at the time, we had no answers on how to increase website traffic. But thankfully, we racked our brains and eventually found creative ways to attract business. Nothing is ever completely smooth. To try is to overcome.

Trying Takes Time

Sometimes, trying and succeeding simply takes time. Sometimes, nothing you can do will accelerate progress and you just need to be patient. If you give up too early, you might miss out on potential gains that are right around the corner.

With our online store, getting indexed in Google and waiting for our reputation to spread via word of mouth was simply a waiting game. Nothing we could have done could have sped things up. Persistence was the key. What’s strange was that success came on like a switch towards the middle of our first year. All of a sudden we were getting lots of organic traffic and business really took off. If we didn’t stick around long enough, we would have missed out.

Trying Is Waiting For Things To Sink In

When you are trying to learn something completely new and foreign, certain things may be difficult to comprehend at first glance. The human brain works in strange ways and it sometimes requires time for concepts to sink in. If you give up before allowing things to settle in your brain, you are not giving yourself a fair chance.

For example, when I first started looking at the source code for some of the open source shopping carts out there, my brain was completely frazzled. Reading and understanding someone else’s code was not only difficult, but I could barely retain anything because there was too much information to absorb at one time. But I stuck with it and over a period of several months, things gradually began to stick. No matter how smart you are, it still takes time to learn, absorb and digest new things.

Have I Always Tried?

I always find it interesting to look back on some of the failed projects that I’ve worked on in the past. Sometimes I question whether I gave it my all. Sometimes I question whether I put my complete heart into it. Sometimes I wonder whether things would be different now if I simply tried again.

If you have a free moment, you may want to take some time and reflect upon your past as well as revisit some old projects. Sometimes all it takes is a new found perspective in order to revive an old passion. Who knows? It might be worth giving things another try.