Don’t get me wrong, nothing’s wrong with trying. In fact, I like trying new things because it helps me discover things I never knew about myself. Like how I actually do like pickles in my burger, or that I need to work on strengthening my back in order to perform an unassisted pull-up.
The problem with this phrase is not in the “try”, but in the “at least”.
As if the only thing I can do is try.
I know the people who say this mean well. They just don’t want you to feel too bad about yourself. But they unintentionally undermine your capability of trying harder and improving.
By saying “at least you tried”, it’s putting a cap on what you are able to achieve, because you’ve concluded that trying is all that you can do, when you can always work harder.
So the next time you catch yourself saying, “at least you tried”, try saying “well, that didn’t work. Let’s see what we can do to improve”
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