Carl Mays: Take responsibility and do what must be done

May. 02, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

“We tried, but trying isn’t what gets you wins. You got to go out there and give it your all. And you have to score to win. You don’t just ‘try’ to do it. You do it.”

This quote came from University of Tennessee Lady Vols softball player Tory Lewis. Ranked number two in the nation at the time, posting a 42-7 record and the winner of 19 straight games, one could understandably say the Lady Vols were on a roll. But last weekend they lost a 2-1 game to 25th ranked University of Arkansas.

Following the game, co-head coach Ralph Weekly told the media the home loss was very frustrating and he explained how he told his players in their postgame meeting, “You have to take responsibility. We had a lot of opportunities to score and we didn’t do it.”

Coach Weekly’s “take responsibility” and “do it” comments, combined with the reaction from Tory Lewis, echo a sentiment that has been voiced many times in locker rooms and clubhouses for many years.

These sentiments have also been expressed by leaders in businesses and other organizations. And along this line, a physician recently told me he doesn’t know how often he has told patients what they need to do in order to prevent certain physical problems from continuing or from becoming more extreme. He said a large number of patients tell him they are going to “try,” but they never do what they need to do to solve their problems.

A friend who consumed alcohol pretty heavily and was having some physical problems said his doctor told him for a long time that he needed to quit drinking. A few years ago, however, his doctor put it more bluntly by saying, “Keep drinking and you will be dead within six months. Quit drinking and you will extend your life.”

The doctor then walked from the room. My friend quit drinking. He is still alive and in better physical shape than he has been in a long time.

The action of my friend’s doctor reminds me of Dr. Sung Park, the straight-to-the-point surgeon in the “Monday Mornings” TV series. Talented but with no beside manners, Dr. Park matter-of-factly tells patients, “Surgery, live. No surgery, die.”

And, Dr. Sung Park reminds me of the football coach who had been encouraging one of his players to try to do a certain thing. Eventually, however, the coach got to the point where he said, “Quit ‘trying’ to do it. Just do it. If you keep on just trying, then you are off the team. If you do it, you are on the team. It is as simple as that. The choice is yours.”

I think the handlebar-mustached LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012), known for his brightly colored paintings and screen prints of athletes and sporting events, expressed well the sentiments of other cut-to-the-chase people who want to quit beating around the bush and get the job done.

Neiman said, “The most important thing is to just do it. If I work at a higher level, I have responsibility to do better than what I’ve done before. Sometimes the best happens - beyond possibility. Just do it. Can’t worry about it.”

Interestingly, according to The New York Times, the notorious spree-killer Gary Gilmore uttered “Let’s do it” just before a firing squad executed him in Utah in 1977. Years later, the phrase became the inspiration for Nike’s “Just Do It” marketing campaign. Today, it is a phrase that numerous leaders and team members act on in order to get things handled.

— © 2013 by Carl Mays, speaker and author whose mentoring site,, is based on his book and program, “A Strategy For Winning.” E-mail to, call 436-7478 or visit