Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

March 24, 2014

Forget Doing And Just Start Trying. Harder.

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 violently through his city destroying homes, leveling trees, and washing away most of the forest.  The devastation was instantaneous and horrific. The impact would be felt for years to come.

Without the necessary shade from the forest that used to be there, the wildlife began to die — washing up onto shore in the unfiltered heat of the hot sun. Fish, animals, plants — dying everywhere around him. Jadav was moved to tears by what he saw.  He was heartbroken by the  prospects for his future.

Those tears quickly turned into an outrageous ideas.

He would regrow the forest. He would replant the vegetation and cultivate the necessary shade to bring comfort to the animals that made Assam their home. 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. “It just won’t work”.

But that didn’t stop Jadav. Bamboo might be an option — his only option.  And so that is where he started.  He began planting bamboo shoots one by one by one in the sandy soil that once was a forest.  After planting each shoot in the soil, he made his way to the river close by where he would bring back a bucket full of water to keep the plant alive.

It was painstaking work. But he didn’t stop there.

Each day he would bring red ants from his home village to the sandbar where he was planting bamboo.  Those ants were the first signs of life in the area. Morning after morning.  Day after day.  He dedicated himself to planting bamboo, introducing tiny creatures to the vegetation, and tending his forest. He made what was an impossible dream a part of his daily routine.

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 and nurturing  wildlife.   Over thirty years, he had willed those first few bamboo shoots into an ecosystem of more than 1,360 acres of vibrant wildlife.

Every day he tried something new. Tried to make a difference in one more way.

That forest was 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 how ordinary people achieve outrageous success.

They try. They get started. They stop trying to “work smart” and just work up a sweat. They are unashamed to make mistakes along the way.

”Trying” gets a bad rap.  Unfairly so. You can’t venture far into a 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 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.

Jadav is not alone.  We spent 4 years studying how ordinary people — like you and me — achieve outrageous success.  We noticed that they were willing to exhibit radical behavior to achieve the results that they wanted, willing to keep doing what everyone else thought was insane until it started working, willing to give more value than people paid for, and focused on people rather than plans.

That’s how ordinary people achieve outrageous success.

Everyone we studied shared these qualities.  All of them. Each one.  They were extreme, disciplined, giving, and human. More importantly, they “tried”.  They tried a lot.

Just because you have skill doesn’t mean you have will. Jadav did. He changed the world around him.

You could too.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.