There’s an oft-quoted iconic scene with Yoda and Luke Skywalker from the movie, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back…
Yoda urges Luke to use the Force to lift the submerged ship from the swamp so that they can escape.
Luke complains that it’s impossible, but finally agrees to try.
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try,” Yoda tells him.
You can watch the full scene in the video below.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
It’s the Yoda equivalent of, “Quit your whining and complaining and just DO IT already!”
I’ve quoted Yoda to myself and clients many times, recognizing how we use word “try” as an excuse to not do.
It’s an empowering message, right?
Believe that you can. Just get off your butt and do it.
But I’ve begun wondering…
What if “doing it” isn’t the highest goal?
What if there’s something to be gained in the attempt…even if it technically fails?
Yoda the Slave Driver
Let’s apply Yoda’s example to a crawling baby.
The baby struggles to pull itself up, and Yoda says, “No! There is no try. Do it!”
It’s going to take hundreds of tries and fails before that baby even takes its first step. And then it’s going to fall a whole lot more before it actually learns to walk.
Yoda seems like kind of a hard ass, doesn’t he?
It’s not “trying” that’s the problem here; it’s our thinking about what’s possible and shutting down possibility by judging ourselves.
Luke is judging all over the place. He’s not strong enough, the ship is too heavy, it’s an impossible task…
What’s the baby doing?
The baby is moving and discovering what’s possible. It’s not judging progress by an expected outcome, or beating itself up because things aren’t going as planned.
The baby is simply exploring the possibilities.
What if we rewrote the scene with Luke taking this approach?
Luke takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and attempts to use the Force to lift the ship. It doesn’t work.
“What else is possible?” Luke asks.
He imagines himself as a giant lifting the ship like a pebble. Doesn’t work. He wiggles his fingers and crinkles his nose. Still no dice.
He uses his curiosity and imagination to come up with new ways to try lifting the ship. Eventually, he nails it.
“Trying” With Curiosity Is Success
Recently, a student of mine made a fabulous distinction.
She’d been trying to figure out what she wanted to do in business. She knew it was coaching of some type, but she didn’t know exactly what or with who.
“Trust your intuition — even if it’s wrong,” I told her. “Let your internal GPS guide you, one turn at a time.”
So she followed her intuition into creating offers for busy professionals. That didn’t feel quite right, so she switched to moms. That wasn’t quite right either, so she switched to an offer for women who were ready to blossom creatively.
“For the first time, I’ve given myself permission to experiment,” she said. “I used to think it was a course correction, as if I was doing it wrong before and now I’ve got it right. Now I see it as a course change.”
Changing course doesn’t mean you’re wrong; it means you’re learning, growing and discovering.
Too many times we stop ourselves from taking action because we’re afraid we can’t “do the whole thing.”
Instead, we can trick ourselves into doing it with one small action at a time.
Can you imagine if we tackled each task with a baby’s relentless curiosity?
Holy smokes! We would never, ever, ever give up. And eventually, we’d get somewhere.
Got an idea for a new business?
A hunch about a service your wedding couples would love?
What’s the smallest action you can take on it today?
Experiment. Test. Try.
And see what happens.
What do you think about “trying” vs. “doing?”