Failure To Try Is Holding You Back

Nike has a new marketing campaign called “Play New.” The commercial features people trying new sports and immediately sucking. A kid attempts boxing and gets knocked to the mat. A woman tries golfing and shoots a golf ball straight into a tree, ricocheting it back at her.

The purpose of the ad isn’t to laugh at terrible would-be athletes. Instead, Nike is encouraging people to try something new. The first time anyone picks up a tennis racket, they won’t be ready to go on tour. Instead, improving takes time, dedication, and effort.

What’s beautiful about this ad campaign is Nike simply encourages trying. They want people to stop overthinking things and, well, just do it.

When it comes to creating, I run into people all the time who avoid trying. They avoid pitching or submitting because they assume they know the answer beforehand.

Spoiler alert: how can you possibly know what someone else is thinking or how they’ll react?

When I first began emailing authors asking for interviews, I assumed everyone would immediately say no. Instead, I’ve interviewed dozens of amazing authors over the last two years.

The only way we grow and learn is by trying. Further, who are we to assume someone won’t like our stories or ideas? Sure, we might not be the next Pulitzer winner, but we improve with every attempt to put ourselves out there.

What are you sitting on because you’re not willing to try? What fear is holding you back?

Take a cue from Nike: trying something doesn’t suck at all.


A version of this story originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, Eat Your Words. Eat Your Words is an idiom meaning to take back what you’ve said. For me, the phrase combines my two favorite things: eating and writing. The Eat Your Words by Justin Cox newsletter mixes writing and creativity advice with featured meals and recipes. It’s the best of both worlds, delivered right to your inbox every week. Sign up today!

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