How hard are you trying, really?

A couple years back, I got this notion that I should be on TV.

“I’ve got opinions! I’m a seasoned public speaker, uh, sort of! Plus, my hair is amazing! C’mon… I’m destined for this!”

I decided I would pitch a local TV station with an uplifting concept for a segment on the power of gratitude — specifically: why we all need to write more handwritten “thank you” notes — just in time for World Gratitude Day.

I had a new book coming out — a collection of adorable notes that you can fill out and give to people you love — so the timing was doubly-perfect.

I emailed the newsdesk to pitch the segment. No response.

I reached out to one of the on-air hosts on Twitter to introduce myself. No response.

I recorded a voice note for the news director and attached that to another email. Emailed again. No response.

I encouraged my Twitter friends and followers (over 12,000 people at that time) to tweet at the TV station and encourage them to bring me on the air. Twitter exploded with beautiful enthusiasm. From the TV station? Still: no response.

I did everything I could think of and… nothing happened.

Ultimately, I decided to just let it go and focus my attention elsewhere. There are a million and one reasons why someone might not “want” you, and that’s life. I get it. I’m zen like that.


Once in a blue moon, my memories drift back to that experience… and similar experiences that I’ve had throughout my life and career… and experiences that I’m having right now, where there’s something I want (or at least, something I SAY that I want) but don’t have yet.

When I’m not getting the results that I crave, it’s relatively easy for me to brush it off and say something chilled out like, “Oh, all in good time…” or “When it’s meant to be, it’ll happen!”

It’s much tougher and grittier to stop myself in my tracks and ask,

“How hard am I trying, really?”

Because 95% of the time, the answer is:

“Pretty hard! Maybe. Sort of. OK, actually, let’s be honest… not really very hard at all. Damn.”

I’m guessing this is true for you, too.

You say you want six-pack abs but you’re unwilling to dial up the intensity during your workouts or forgo your daily muffin that’s the size of your face. How hard are you trying, really?

You say you’re ready to meet your soulmate and you sense that he / she is out there, drawing closer, every day. But it’s Saturday night and you’re watching Netflix reruns at home on the couch. How hard are you trying, really?

You say you’re ready for your first big media opportunity (or a promotion, or your dream job, or a bustling, thriving business). But you hide behind your computer screen, sending emails to try to woo people and move things forward, figuring “Hey, that’s enough! I SENT AN EMAIL AFTER ALL.” But seriously, now. How hard are you trying, really?

The gnarly truth is that, usually, we’re not operating at full capacity. We refuse to dig deep. We don’t want to tolerate even a moment of temporary discomfort, even when we know it’s a necessary part of the journey to excellence. We make excuses. We flake out & hold back.

And then we grumble when we don’t get what we want.

As my friend Susan often says, it’s fine if you want to hold back and chill out.

But if that’s what you choose, then…

“Don’t be mad about the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.”

I’m not advocating that anybody push themselves to the point of injury, burn out, anxiety, or depression.

I’m all for relaxation. (I literally have three beds in my 1-bedroom apartment: sleeping bed, flopping bed, and outside-balcony bed.)

What I’m saying (mostly to myself, because I need to re-learn this lesson continually) is that before you decide that your goal or dream just “isn’t meant to be,” check in and see if you’re actually “trying” as diligently and courageously as you could be.

In all likelihood, you’re not. Which doesn’t make you a “bad” or “lazy” person.

It just makes you a person who is facing a choice, a fresh opportunity:

Walk away, let it go, or go harder… bigger… braver.

What’s it going to be?