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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 10:50 am | Fair 60º


Paul Burri: There’s Little Logic in, ‘Don’t Try It; It Might Not Work’

Sometimes the benefits do outweigh the challenges, if you keep an open mind

One of my recent columns talked about the people who say, “We tried it once and it didn’t work.” I don’t think much of that attitude and I said why not.

Now I want to talk about another kind of thinking that I don’t understand. Have you ever met anyone whose thinking goes like this: “We better not try it because it might not work.”

We shouldn’t try it because it might not work?

How far is that thinking from your kid who won’t try pizza because he “doesn’t like it” even though he has never tried it? I’m sure every parent has gone through this situation; I know I have. How about, “I won’t go to that movie because I might not like it” or “I won’t eat because I might get hungry again” or “I won’t exercise because I might get tired”? I can think of a few hundred more of these.

And of course, the most obvious answer to these people is, “But what if it does work?” or “But what if you do like the taste of pizza?” or “So what if you get tired? Are the benefits of the exercise worth getting tired?”

By the way, anyone who asks the “but what if it doesn’t work” question is surely the person who can find a dozen or more reasons why the idea is a bad one — and rarely any good reasons or see any of the benefits.

I remember President John F. Kennedy’s speech about landing a man on the moon. He said (paraphrasing), “We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Certainly he thought there would be some benefits from the space program, but notice that he emphasized the challenge more than the benefits and certainly more than the danger that “it wouldn’t work” or that we couldn’t do it. I’m sure he never once thought that we shouldn’t try it because it might not work. Neither do I.

All this leads me to think about setting goals. First, of course, I guess I should say to myself, “I’d better not set goals because I may not achieve them.” Anyone else have a feeling of déjà vu here? Why set goals? You may not achieve them. Here’s my answer to that. “If you set goals for yourself, I cannot guarantee that you will achieve them. But I can guarantee that if you don’t set them, you won’t achieve them.”

Furthermore, “If you are achieving all of your goals, you shouldn’t be proud or satisfied. You’re not setting them high enough.”

My response to the fearful ones? Try it; it might work.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He has been a counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) for the past eight years. SCORE offers free business counseling to local businesses. He is also the membership director of the Channel City Camera Club. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not reflect the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous Paul Burri columns. Follow Paul Burri on Twitter: @BronxPaul.

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