‘I’ve tried everything’

December 9, 2010

How many times in life do we feel or say, “I’ve tried everything”? 

Have we though?  Or is this the voice of our internal dialogue once again telling us things that are not true?  The following is a story from a fitness program I work with, but has great application in any area of life including recovery, business, marriage, relationships, schooling…

Motivational speaker and author Anthony Robbins once told the story of a man at a seminar who was extremely frustrated with his lack of results in marketing his company. The befuddled businessman said that he had tried everything but nothing worked. Here is the exchange that went on between the two of them:

Robbins: “You’ve tried EVERYTHING???”
Attendee: “Yes, I’ve tried absolutely everything!”

Robbins: “Tell me the last HUNDRED things you tried,”
Attendee: ” I haven’t tried a hundred things.”

Robbins: “OK, then just tell me the last FIFTY things you tried.”
Attendee: “I haven’t tried fifty things.”

Robbins: “Alright then tell me the last DOZEN things you tried.”
Attendee: (getting somewhat embarrassed) “Well, I haven’t tried a dozen things.”

Robbins: “I thought you said you tried EVERYTHING! So tell me then, how many things have you tried?”
Attendee: (Shrinking back into his seat), “Two or three.”

Obviously the man got the message loud and clear (Hopefully you did too).

Why do we fall for this?  Is our subconscious panicking?  Are we unknowingly looking for an excuse to quit or rationalize failure?  Are we lazy?  Are we simply lost in self-deception?

I have fallen into this trap.  For this very reason, I seek out outside voices, both written and spoken, to challenge my inaccurate internal dialogue.





  1. Great Post.

    I’ve heard this story before.
    However, I enjoyed reading it again.

    Personally, I’ve seen this all the time.
    People try something one or two times and stop.

    They don’t realize how life is a numbers game.
    Exponential growth eventually happens, even overcoming addictions.


    • Hi Dale, yes, we do often quit too soon. It seems to be common to humanity and especially those of us addicted one way or other.

      The exaggerated notion of having tried “everything”, I believe is a self-preserving lie from our addictive nature that green-lights our quit.

      Just one of the sneaky manipulations that keeps our addictive behaviours and thinking embedded in us for as long as it can.

      AA calls it “cunning, baffling, and powerful”. Certainly meaningful descriptors.



  2. So true, I think all of us are guilty of falling into that trap from time to time. As long as we continue to learn, grow and progress forward. I believe, it’s all just part of the process on our path of becoming our true selves.
    Love your posts!

    • Hi Anna… nice to hear from you as always.

      Agreed. The learning and growing are essential as we continue to try. Otherwise we may just end up doing the same ineffective things over and over.

      I believe strongly that trying “everything” really must mean many different things. Not unlike the inventing of the light bulb. Edison did not just do one thing over and over. He changed and refined his approaches.



  3. ”Wait ’til life hands you your own ass before you think you really know anything about life ”

    Hey there. just want you to know that I like this comment you made. (I cant remember the original post)
    you do have a lot of written stuff.

    Often, we..’ know it alls’ have all the answers. So why bother with the search button.

    I do not have time to read everything you wrote. so I will just give you a thank you for the above quote,.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: