What Does 'Try' Mean?

29/04/2013 12:22 BST | Updated 24/06/2013 10:12 BST

Last night, I was watching the movie I Love You Man with my brothers for the hundredth time, and it was hysterical as usual. During the movie though, I had one of those movie moments. You know, that moment when you're watching a movie you've seen countless times before and a line jumps out at you that you don't remember being there? Well, we're watching the scene where Paul Rudd is walking on the boardwalk with Jason Segel, for the first time, and all of a sudden Segel's character says to Rudd's character, "trying is having the intention to fail."

I thought about that line and I started thinking about ways I had used the verb "try" in the past. I realized how true the line in the movie really was. I remembered so many different situations where I had faced a task that seemed impossible at the time and that my response to the task was "I'll try my best." That statement, which at first seems pretty positive, accepts and almost expects the possibility of failure. It's like an incomplete sentence, which in full would be, "I'll try my best but I don't think this is going to work." I realized how debilitating using the word "try" in that way could be in life, especially when you're looking to achieve something. To put that kind of expectation of failure onto a project, job, family, whatever, isn't fair to you especially if your intention is to give any task one hundred percent of everything you've got. There has to be a different way to explain giving something your all, and there is.

Like many words, it's not about what they mean on their own but how they are used that creates their meaning. "Try" as a verb has a completely different meaning then the word "try" as a noun. In cowboy culture, when someone is described as having a lot of "try" what they are saying is that the person being described has this quality of giving every bit of effort they can possibly give to their job or task. This is a much more effective definition for the word "try" because it builds you up and gives you the feeling of "I can do this" that using "try" as a verb hints at but, lets face it, doesn't really do.

It's not about what you say but how you say it that creates the affect words have. So the next time you're faced with a situation that seems impossible at the time, remember that it's not about "trying," but about giving it all of your "try."