“Trying” gets a bad rap. Unfairly so. You can’t venture far into a motivational or business seminar and not hear some reference to Yoda’s : “Do. Or do not. There is no try” thoughts on the subject of getting things done. After the audience titters and you stop squirming uncomfortably in your seat, the speaker tells you to “Go out there and make it happen…” — as if through sheer will you can bend the cosmos to your bidding. You end up frustrated and confused, angry and panicked. Too late you realize an important lesson.
Doing is impossible without trying.
They are inextricably connected. There is no “do” without a lot of “try’s”. It is impossible to do anything without first trying out options for what to do. Doing is a product of trying, not a replacement for it.
That’s not just wordplay. It’s an important lesson in getting started on achieving the results that you want for you. Your mission isn’t to do anything. It’s simply to try something. And then try something else. And keep trying until what you want to achieve is what you are currently doing.
Sometimes that process takes years.
As a 16 year old boy, Jadav watched as a torrential flood ripped through his home in Assam, India. The powerful currents in that 1979 storm smashed through the city destroying homes, leveling trees, and washing away most of the forest. The devastation was horrific.
Without the necessary shade from the forest, wildlife began to die — washing up onto shore in the unfiltered heat of the hot sun. Jadav was moved to tears by what he saw. Those tears quickly turned into ideas and effort. He would regrow the forest.
But when he contacted the national forestry service he was told that his idea wouldn’t work. “Nothing will grow in the sand except maybe bamboo,” they told him. And so that is where he started. By planting bamboo shoots one by one by one in the sandy soil that once was a forest.
And he didn’t stop there. Each day he would bring red ants from his home village to the sand bar where he was planting bamboo. Morning after morning. Day after day. He dedicated himself to planting bamboo and tending his forest.
One year turned into two years. And two years turned into a decade. And that decade turned into two more. Each day, Jadav tending his bamboo. Over thirty year ,he had cultivated an ecosystem of more that 1,360 acres of vibrant wildlife.
That forest became a shelter to elephants and apes, birds and deer. Some of India’s rarest animals, including tigers and the rhinoceros, live in Jadav’s forest, where he has lived himself in a simple hut for the past 10,974 days.
Jadav Payeng is nicknamed “Molai” by those who know him best. The miles of forest he transformed are called the Molai Woods. Aptly so, “Molai” simply means: “to get started”.
That’s what he did. He started planting one bamboo shoot at a time. And he did it for thirty years.
Along the way he tried to introduce different trees and wildlife to his man-made forest. Some flourished. Others didn’t.
He didn’t “do” much of anything.
Not when he first got started. Thirty years later, what Jadav accomplished is impossibly impressive. One man. Planting 1,360 acres.
What came from his “try” was unimaginable at the time. The only reason why it worked was because he never stopped trying.
There’s a lesson there for you. A reminder that how hard you try matters. That “if” you try matters. That what you do today and tomorrow and next week — it all matters.
And if you keep trying, you’ll eventually end up doing something pretty incredible.