Yoda and different kinds of trying (blog scott berkun)

Scott Berkun

Yoda said “Do or do not, there is no try.”

I have always had problems with this nugget of Jedi wisdom.

The sentiment we’re supposed to take, I think, is you must be fully committed to what you are doing, when you are doing it. And I agree. Either do it, or don’t.

But even when fully committed and focused, we can attempt things we haven’t done before, things where the outcome is uncertain. We all have limits, no matter how great our faith or practice is, and if we’re growing we’ll be in situations where we’re not sure we can succeed. To learn to do anything interesting requires trying and failing, and to be a master requires even more.

The surprise is it’s the holding back that prevents learning. It’s a trap. When you hold back, you have an excuse. You can say “I didn’t really try that hard” or “I only did because you told me”. Those are the excuses that indicate a bad kind of trying. They blind you from learning about yourself or other ways to do what it is you want to do. This is the useless kind of trying. It’s trying where you just want to be able to say you tried, mostly so you don’t have to try anymore.

So I disagree with Yoda, perhaps not in sentiment but in the literal phrasing: there is trying, just different kinds. The healthy kind is where you know going in even if you give your best, you may fail, yet you do it anyway. There’s a faith in yourself required that a better version of you is on the other side of that attempt, and you take the risks of trying in the present as a gift to the you on the other side.

The gift is every time you try and fail you get a little more information about the challenge and about yourself, even if it doesn’t feel that way, and soon you’re not failing in the old way, you’re failing in new ways, which for many interesting things, is worthy kind of progress on its own.

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Yoda and different kinds of trying (blog scott berkun)