I’ll Try vs I Will

I was at work the other day and I saw a colleague doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. In fact, what he did was totally illegal and could also have lost him his job if he had been reported either to the police or to our boss. So why didn’t I report him? Good question. The thing is I know that he didn’t do it with any intent of criminal behaviour at all, in fact, he did something thousands of people do every day which only has consequences if the police actually do see you or you cause an accident.  He is fairly new on the job and whilst he did what he did in an attempt to help out some other colleagues, I also don’t think he was fully aware of the potential impact if things had gone wrong. Nothing bad happened, as I said, thousands of people get away with it every day, which doesn’t make it okay, but we all deserve a chance right?

I decided to speak to him immediately and tell him I saw him, he mustn’t ever do it again and he should consider how lucky he was that only I did see him. He thanked me and said… “I’ll try not to do that again”!

I was gobsmacked!

He said, “I’ll try!”. I cannot believe he said that – I was expecting “I will never do that again”. This got me thinking…..

“I’ll try” seems to be a pretty negative statement that many people use. It indicates a degree of dismissiveness about something whilst attempting to be polite!  In fact, it sounds like someone is saying, “I’ll think about putting some effort into it, but don’t hold me accountable if I don’t succeed”. Maybe it implies a lack of confidence in being able to do what is asked – or not do in this case. Because if we say we will try, it almost gives us the permission to only give a heart-hearted attempt at which we can’t be blamed if we fail, because, well, we tried. In fact, if we say we will try, then we never fail if we actually do at least try!

To sum it up, if someone says that they will try, they are really saying that if they can get round to it, then they will have a go, but no promises.

Honestly, doesn’t that seem like a cop-out to you? Consider the possibility that “I’ll try” is a cliché and a sign of someone who is not strong enough to be definite about the action they need to take.

What is wrong with saying “I will”? (No bridal jokes please!) Is it because when we say those words we are committing ourselves to something, we are making ourselves accountable, and that leaves us open to failure. But you know what, there are times in our lives when we really must be saying “I will”, (again, no wedding jokes!).

A strong person, a person who has convictions, a person who has clear insight and vision can see that any challenge can be overcome by effort. They can also see that failure often paves the way to accomplishment. The reality is that most triers are not doers.

What are you – a trier or a doer?

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