‘Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try.’

I love the quote from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke was trying to lift his Xwing out of the bog (yes, I’m a Star Wars geek, haha)

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

I love this for many reasons, but if you’re not on that plane of thinking then you may hate it, because well…it sounds really harsh.

It can also be pretty hard to hear for someone that is trying to make it somewhere but keeps hitting roadblocks along the way and failing from time to time (like Luke Skywalker was!). It can roughly sound like he’s meaning:

“You make it or you don’t, there is no trying to make it.”

But we all know that you can’t get anywhere without trying — no-one is an expert on their first day of a job. I’ve been in that position before! And even experts can get stuck trying at something.

You won’t be able to achieve anything if you don’t try it first.

But at the heart of this message, it navigates past the trying aspect. Because if we look at the word “try” it’s rather passive.

“Oh, I’ll give it a try” can be viewed as a negative, rather than a positive. It’s sometimes the language used by people that aren’t reliable in what they are doing — when they ‘try’ something then it may mean that they might not like it, or they might not be interested in putting much effort into it. I’ve been there too – I’ve often “tried to clean my room” and selectively forgotten about it in my teenage years.

This actually may not be what they mean of course; their ‘trying’ might actually mean that they’re open-minded and flexible.  It could even mean they are going to do it or die trying. But there is no way to tell this.

We speak our thoughts aloud so that other people can hear us. Saying that you’ll “try” isn’t indicating that you’re going to put any effort into it. Even if you personally probably will.

Okay, so what do I mean by that?

Well, there are ways in which you can better state your intentions. Life is about small goals as well as big goals.

Which of these statements sounds better?

“I’m going to try and build my own blockchain.”

Sounds quite a high stakes statement — also, there’s always the option to back out of it if you can’t do it and ease off the sentiment with, “well, I DID try” — of course I’m not saying this is what you’d do, but there is that option. It also only matters what other people perceive what you are saying, not what you are thinking — else you’d never have said it, right?

What about:

“I’ve finally hired the blockchain developer that we needed; we’re now on our way to building our own blockchain”

The second statement is action-orientated and filled with positive “doing” statements, which fills the reader/listener with confidence — I learned this all from my wife. She’s a linguist and an ex- businesswoman.

See, I first learned of language perception because my wife was always confused with what I meant. My favorite saying was, “I suppose” — it’s something I learned from my granddad that I liked, and I used it when I was going to do something. It was an action word in my mind.

My wife said that might be great for me, but it doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the receiver hears since I’m using that language to answer them.

“I suppose” to the general listener or reader seems that I’m generally uninterested, or unhappy about what it is that I’m agreeing with. Of course, it’s not what I mean to convey, but that doesn’t matter at all. It only matters how other people perceive it.

It really only matters how you come across to other people with your words and that may come as a surprise to some of us. Think about how your words have an impact on others, from every side of the equation — it’s something I learned from being married to a linguist.

Our words matter, not to us, but to those on the receiving end. We can mean something entirely different to those that hear us — and that’s what matters. Choose your words carefully, and wisely.

So, there is only do or do not, there is no try. In Yoda’s eyes, anyway.

You will take the steps to “do” whatever it is that you’re going to do, and the outcome of those actions will impact you in different ways depending on how you handled the situation!

This is what I think Yoda meant, or how I experience those words.

Words matter. But only to people that hear them. Do you talk when you are alone?

Like I say — the world is subjective!

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