do or do not, there is no try.
Ever since I introduced my little sister to Star Wars, she has bought me a Yoda-themed present every Christmas. Occasionally, I stare at my Yodas and ponder his words, “Do or do not, there is no try” What could they mean? I finally sought an answer and Quora came to the rescue.
If I ask you to look over this blog post, edit it, and email it back to me, think about the difference between each of these responses:
“I will do that.”
“I will not do that.”
“I will try to do that.”
If you give me response #1, I will expect the edits in my inbox within a day because you spoke with such certainty and purpose.
If you give me response #2, I will not expect any edits because you spoke with such certainty and purpose. You likely have a full plate already.
If you give me response #3, I have no idea what to expect from you. Will you deliver? Why did you waffle in your response? In neither giving me a yes or a no, you are giving me existential overhead. I am now wondering if I can expect something from you.
And you give yourself enough slack to hang yourself with. With a word like try, you never need to send me any edits. You have no pressure. If I hound you, you can respond that you said you would try, not that you would do it.
Yoda’s meaning is this: to do or to do not is present-focus, unambiguous, and confident; to try is to not only anticipate failure, but to prepare a guest room for it.
So do or do not. Be confident and definite in all that you think and do.
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Also, shout out to Ho-Sheng Hsiao’s answer on Quora!