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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


June 7th, 2018

At the beginning of any undertaking, before any action has been taken, the most important, vital ingredient to success is formed:  our perspective towards the undertaking. 








It may seem cocky to declare that we will DO something we have never achieved before.


It may seem more wise to try a new undertaking instead.


If certainty is a dangerous trap, should we not be cautious and tentative about new undertakings?


The answer is more nuanced than the dichotomy of do & try suggests.











We cannot be certain about the outcome of our efforts.


But we can be certain about the authenticity, intensity and consistency of our efforts.



Reality is not fully under our control, but the nature of our actions is under our control. 



To approach reality with any kind of certainty about what will happen or how reality will react to our efforts is bound to disappoint and cripple confidence.  Reality just has far too much information for us to fully integrate in a way that allows us to manipulate it to desired outcomes every single time.  

The difference between doing and trying has nothing to do with the outcome of anything we undertake.








They are perspectives about our effort.








To try something inevitably contains a focus on failure.  Inherent in the word is a big comfy space for imagined failure to inhabit.  In some sense, this makes failure our focus.  And in so doing, our efforts are more likely to fail. 


Or rather:


when the efforts of trying  result in failure, we are more likely to cease trying because the ‘failure’ is a confirmation of our original perspective.


The conceptual picture is complete, the story has come full circle.









To try, is to expect failure.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It is also a self-reinforcing delusion because it perpetuates a consistent idea of one’s self that is only accurate within it’s own framework.  Any success no matter how tiny is proof that this framework is flawed because it demonstrates that something exists outside of it’s framework.  Meaning:  if we can change the way we frame events, actions, efforts & undertakings, it changes the outcome.


To do, is a perspective that anticipates something beyond failure.  To do is a perspective that allows one to imagine changes in the course of action in order to get closer to the desired goal.


To do is the perspective that efforts will not cease until something akin to the goal is achieved no matter how winding, varied and detoured the path to that goal.  ‘Failures’ are simply unexpected detours and bumps in the road.


To do is a commitment to our effort, no matter how feeble our ability, how lacking our knowledge, or how daunting the obstacle.







Ability can be developed with practice. 


Knowledge can be gathered


Obstacles can be overcome.




A case in point:  Mindfulness meditation.  The practice is simple, just focus on the breath.  Even after many many many sessions though, it can still seem impossible.  The mind drifts off and thinks about something.  Isn’t that failure?  Perhaps.  Does that mean it’s a waste of time? 


By refocusing over and over and over -  by responding properly to this ‘failure’, the practice yields incredible results over time.  Even though it can easily be viewed as constant failure from moment to moment.  Transcending that failure and maintaining the practice is what yields the results.




There is no try. 


It’s a self-cancelling perspective.  A waste of time.  A philosophical dead-end.  To try, fail, and stop, has exactly the same result as never attempting in the first place.  Literally: Trying is not doing.  Therefore try does not exist.  Only:


Do, or do not.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 53: There Is No Try

Tinkered Thinking

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