“Do or Don’t Do, There Is No Try!”


These are powerful words from the Master Jedi, Yoda, in the movie Star Wars. They were adopted by our culture, in word only, because its meaning is not understood and therefore its power to inspire, drive and sustain our commitment is lost.

Why? The message is received as accomplish or not. I immediately liked these words and wanted the empowering inspiration they convey, but I wrestled with them for years. While I wanted the empowerment of saying I ‘Do,’ in fact I had not yet succeeded in my task and felt that claiming ‘I do’ was deceptive because I hadn’t yet succeeded.

Then I had a moment of clarity – I connected the often said ‘Life is about the journey not the destination’ with ‘Do or don’t do, there is no try’ and it hit me that really the message is commit or don’t commit to our journey while accepting that the outcome is not up to us. Example: In the movie, Star Wars, Jedi (warriors committed to doing it) sometimes lost, sometimes died. That did not mean they were trying, they were committed and accepted the final outcome was not up to them, only their choice to commit or not to their journey.

And therein lie the meaning and the power of ‘Do or Don’t Do, There Is No Try!’ Commit or not, because intending to try is by definition non-commitment. To think ‘try’ is to accept, if not actually plan on, only going so far, so long, and if it’s not achieved, abandoning our commitment.

On the other hand, when we commit and say ‘I Do’ or ‘I’m Doing This,’ our very commitment strengthens and empowers us in ways one must first experience to appreciate.

For an analogy, when we say ‘I’m trying,’ we’re planting weeds in our garden of self-confidence; weeds that will choke out our confidence by eroding and weakening our resolve as challenges come along. On the other hand, saying ‘I’m doing this’ firms our resolve and mentally prepares us for oncoming challenges.

Again, it’s not about the outcome (The destination). It’s about the process (Our journey). Focus (On what we can control –that which we initiate and how we respond in our thoughts, words and actions). Commit. (See it through. Determination.) Accept the outcome is not up to us, only whether we commit or don’t.

In Chicken Soup For The Soul, there is a story about a young boy, under 12 as I recall, visiting his grandpa on his ranch. They’re horseback riding on a very narrow ledge, rounding the curve of a steep mountain, when suddenly they discover a fallen tree blocks their trail. The trail is too narrow to turn their horses around; they cannot go around the tree; going up the mountain’s steep grade is the only viable course of action available to them. The grandson is nervous, uncertain and becoming increasingly scared.

The grandpa tells his grandson they’re going up the side of the mountain and to watch him then do what he did. He digs his heels into the horse’s side and he heads up the mountain. After getting to the next ledge, grandpa looks down and tells his grandson “Now, you do it.” The grandson, scared as he is, closes his eyes and does what grandpa says. When he gets to the ledge with grandpa, grandpa congratulates him but tells him when he closed his eyes – he missed the best part!

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