Fighting Yoda

Normally I wouldn’t publicly argue with a fictional character. I usually reserve that for inside of my head or those really  fun late night conversations with friends, but today in the shower I was thinking about Yoda.

That came out weird.

I was thinking specifically about Yoda’s, “Do or do not, there is no try.” While I get that he’s pushing on Luke’s tendency to give up like a big whiney baby, using “I’ll try” as an excuse to fail in the future, I don’t really agree with Yoda’s method…

You see, I am an idea person. When I was a kid this manifested in epic daydreaming. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever grown out of that habit, but along with daydreaming, I have acquired a great love for having real life ideas. The ideas range from simple thoughts on human behavior (why so and so did that thing) to possible adventures to how I can make a recipe better.

I was explaining to my sister the other day that even though most of my larger than life ideas don’t go anywhere (at least anywhere I take them), it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the process. Even when I know that an idea is not likely to be realized, I love exploring the possibilities. This is not a worthless exercise, since the exploration process uncovers a multitude of truths that help inform the next big idea.

Although it’s true that Luke Skywalker and I share the same Myers Briggs personality (INFP), I don’t have to use the term “I’ll try” as an excuse to go at something half-heartedly (that old demon ‘can’t win, don’t try’). By saying “I’ll try”  I mean something much more real and much less ludicrous than Yoda’s suggestion that failure to succeed is equivalent to not trying at all. Every failure counts toward the eventual success as long as you keep trying (even if success comes after changing direction completely).

Maybe this isn’t at all what Yoda meant, but the phrase has been stuck like an infected splinter for many years now, taunting me with its self-righteous dismissal. While it is catchy, the advice is deceiving and misses the value of making your best effort.

Every time I question myself, question my worth in light of past failures, I then remember another deeply imbedded quote. This by Winston Churchill.

“Success is going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.”

While I have, admittedly lost enthusiasm several times in my life, the lethargy never lasts. The sting quietens, the fog disperses and ahead lay only more and more possibilities. As I get up to dive in again, I have more tools, more understanding and a renewed excitement to tackle the next idea.

If you are like me, full of ideas and a seemingly damning number of failures, please take courage. What you have is a gift. The more you keep getting back up again, the more you will see this.



P.S. Frodo Baggins is also considered an INFP, another tenacious and heroic introvert who is drastically less annoying than Luke.

2 thoughts on “Fighting Yoda”

  1. Probably not how Yoda intended it, but I always heard that phrase as “any activity at all is *doing*” There is literally no such thing as “trying”.

    1. It’s an important vocabulary word. If I decide to summit Mt. Everest, there has to be a word for doing but not doing. I can take action- attempt, try, but I may not succeed. If I don’t succeed, I cannot say that I summited Mt. Everest- I have to say I tried or attempted.

      Also, if I attempt it once and do not succeed and I maybe injure myself in a way that keeps me from being able to attempt it again, I need a word that allows the glory of having tried to begin with.

      Without the word “try” (and its synonyms) we lose the value of persevering through failed attempts- a very necessary skill for achieving success.

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