Success. T-R-Y. Success.

Sitting in the audience watching my 9-year old daughter complete in a Spelling Bee at her school, I started thinking that Woody Allen was on to something when he said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” The most simple, yet powerful lesson about success is that it starts with a short little word:


The school’s principle (or principal if you’re a stickler) started off the Spelling Bee with some general comments to the parents in attendance. Then he turned to the students and said something like this:

When I was a student, I entered my class Spelling Bee every year. I never won, because I wasn’t a very good speller. But I always tried.

Trying starts with the right attitude.

When I arrived at the Bee, I waved to my daughter, and she ran over to me, the whole time looking beyond me to see if her mom had come with me. Not immediately seeing her mother, Sascha asked:

“So is mommy dead or something?” stated with a deliciously dead-panned, bored expression on her face and just a little twinkle in her eyes.


I answered in kind: “I wasn’t going to tell you until afterwards, but YES, she’s dead. Now just put that out of your mind, and go kick some butt.”

This little exchange represents Sascha’s attitude of trying, in this case, trying to make me laugh. And it worked.

See, while Sascha and I enjoy many similar creative traits, we part styles when it comes to humor. Since birth, Sascha’s possessed a most serious, almost somber disposition.

Even though we don’t always get each other, we try to make each other laugh. And whether we succeed or not, we never stop trying. It’s our private love language, and it comes from an attitude that says: I think you’re the neatest person in the world, and I want to try to share something with you that I hope you will like.

Success starts with trying.

While the principal continued to address the contestants, I started thinking about what makes people unwilling to try. Fear, mostly. What if I try and fail? What if I embarrass myself? What if I get hurt?

Has fear ever kept you from…

  • Applying for a job?
  • Enrolling in a class?
  • Moving to a new town?
  • Asking someone out on a date?

I started wondering if the contestants in this room were the smartest kids in the school. Or, could it be that these kids were here because they overcame fear and decided to try?  While opportunity knocked on the door of every kid in the school to have a chance to be on the stage, not every kid responded. And those kids who failed to open the door to this opportunity to be in the Spelling Bee would not win this Spelling Bee.

Trying doesn’t not always result in success, but success is always the result of trying.

Pushing past your fear of failure.

What have you been unwilling to try for fear of failure? Or what have you tried in the past and failed, so you quit trying? Maybe it’s time to TRY AGAIN. Is it time that you try again to —

  • Drink more water, less soda (or scotch)?
  • Exercise more, maybe even just a walk each morning?
  • Plant a flower garden?
  • Write that book?
  • Eat less “comfort food” and spend more time giving and receiving real comfort?
  • Seek  positive relationships  / end negative, abusive relationships?

Don’t wish it. Set a goal, and start working that goal. Measure your progress. Ask someone to serve as an accountability partner. If you fail, don’t quit trying. Just try again. And again. And again. That’s how I quit smoking. I didn’t succeed the first time I tried to quit. I didn’t even succeed the 10th time I quit. But I kept trying. And eventually, it took.

It’s time. If you have hopes to win the Spelling Bee, you have to enter the Spelling Bee. If you want to enjoy beautiful, fresh-cut flowers all season long, you have to plant a garden. If you ever hope to see your book on a book shelf, you have to write that book.

And where does it all start? It’s starts when you TRY, TRY AGAIN, and KEEP TRYING.

It’s time to lose your fear, and try again.




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