Lean into trying

While the saying, “Do or do not, there is no try,” is incredibly popular and compelling, it has never resonated with me. 

To me, the human condition is almost entirely about trying. It’s about putting yourself out there, making an attempt, and living with the outcome. 

Two quotes that come to mind:

Stravinsky, a composer whom we tend to think of as rather objective and “cool,” once turned down a bassoon player because he was too good to render the perilous opening to The Rite of Spring. This heart-stopping moment, conveying the first crack in the cold grip of the Russian winter, can only be truly represented if the player has to strain every fiber of his technical resources to accomplish it. A bassoon player for whom it was easy would miss the expressive point. And when told by a violinist that a difficult passage in the violin concerto was virtually unplayable, Stravinsky is supposed to have said: “I don’t want the sound of someone playing this passage, I want the sound of someone trying to play it!”

Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility (p. 103)

Humans have a deep appreciation for other humans doing remarkable things. Because of this, there will always be a demand for outstanding chess players, artists, and anyone pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible. Even if computers can win every chess game, or create incredible art in every form, the fact that a machine did it is actually diminishing. We like the constraint of being human, and seeing what’s possible from within those boundaries. When we see a performance, we don’t just see it for what it is. We see the entire history, the years of training that led up to them being able to perform with such excellence.

Tobi Lütke, The Future Role of Human Excellence

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