Every so often each of us might see or hear or notice someone literally ‘trying too hard’ to sound too cool for school, look a certain part and not measuring up, or seeming to be that square peg trying ever so hard to fit in the round hole.

A Five Seconds of Summer sing,

‘I pierced my lip so she thinks I’m cool
I ripped my jeans and dropped out of school
I followed her around the town
But she thinks that I’m a weirdo now’

It’s so obvious sometimes and it can be a little painful and sad to watch happen, too.

The meaning of the word tryhard has a derogatory meaning:

 ‘A person usually of little talent who tries hard, especially through imitation, to succeed, usually to gain fame or popularity’.

And some of the ways we see it play out, and the most popular examples from Urban Dictionary include, but of course aren’t limited to,

  • Someone who tries too hard to fit in.
  • Someone easy to spot because they constantly use phrases or slang that appear to be ‘trendy’, they swear but it doesn’t ‘sound right’ coming from them, or they change their behavioural patterns to fit in and this is amplified even more on line.
  • Someone who attempts to be cool, but fails to achieve this status
  • look at Jonny with that white leisure suit, what a try hard!
  • That one person that always brags about his 2500 Facebook friends and any other accomplishments they may have achieved – and made worse by those who have earned it and you don’t expect to brag
  • A word often used by videogame players,  to insult players that have been killing a lot of players. This is usually used as an insult towards other players that are beating them, and they want a reason to insult them and not just limited to video game players, unfortunately!
  • Someone who tries too hard to be included in a group of people and will copy anything someone else does / something other people in a group do, to, act like, or look like in order to become accepted in the group.
  • Alec is such a tryhard, all of the bands he s to, he gets off us, he can’t get his own life.

tryhard, in behaving as these examples demonstrate, is simply living out their need for significance. And having a need for significance is something we all have – it is a human need, to feel important, to feel good about ourselves, to feel different than others or to feel the same as others, to feel that we mean something to people and that we matter.

But there are two ways that we can meet that need. We can meet it in a resourceful and meaningful way where we have someone else’s interests at heart or we can meet it in an unresourceful way that carries no meaning for anyone, except ourselves.

The difference is that when we do something to meet that need in a really resourceful way, we actually feel pretty good about ourselves, especially because we form some kind of a connection with someone else, or when what we do is for the benefit of others. When we do it based on this instead of making ourselves look and sound ‘impressive’, or boost up our own ‘feel good factor’, we actually strengthen and amplify our self esteem, self respect and feeling of being enough.

Being a try hard and trying hard are different beasts.

There are those who ‘try hard’, or put in the effort with genuine and authentic desire to do their best and usually have a bigger purpose behind their activities.

My daughter has just completed her first tri-athalon and whilst she has built her level of fitness up over a period of years, she still didn’t train as much as she could. What kept her going when her legs were like blocks of wood, was the fact that she was running for her friend who is very sick. She didn’t care about winning at all costs, she cared that she finished.

The tryhard that day was the person in a sea of athletes who desperately wanted to win, but didn’t, because they were trying too hard to win, and failed because of it. They were that one person ‘hanging it’ on the winner for whatever reason they felt justified their loss.

So here’s some thoughts around it being OK to try hard versus being a royal pain in the butt, ‘try hard’.

Shifting these few approaches slightly, or a lot, will optimize your relevance, relationships and results.

  • Be OK with who you are and the value you bring to the table. Think back and find evidence of when you really did kick butt in your own unique and authentic way, because there will be stacks of reference points from your past. So know to look for them and add to YOUR successes, not necessarily other people’s.
  • Be OK with the fact that the ‘cool group’ are a group of people who are like each other and that like each other – they are in sync. Their values are aligned with each others. The reason you don’t ‘fit in’ is because your values aren’t aligned, not because you don’t have the same clothes, language or taste in music. You don’t need to ‘fit in’ with anyone – know that you are enough and you will, by default, find your own ‘cool group’.
  • Be OK with your looks, your body, your age, your colour, your personal attributes and don’t try to change what can’t be changed – accept yourself as you already are – there are no pedestals so take others off those higher platforms you have placed them on.
  • Be OK with knowing you can’t please all the people all of the time. If you try too hard to be liked you will end up repelling those very same people. Go for wanting to be respected versus wanting to be liked.
  • Be OK with helping other people feel significant and that’s when you will realise you don’t need to do anything but be yourself.

So, in the words of Yoda from Star Wars,

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

And in the words of me,

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant

The Science of Strategy - What Steve Jobs and I Have in Common

Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.

BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.

Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.

Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.

Book your Conference or Sales Kick Off Meeting today!
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Image Courtesy of Danielle McClelland, Triathlete

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