For many people, Star Wars has been a force for inspiration in their lives. It has brought together like minded people, it has helped build friendships in a welcoming community of fans, and it’s been there for people who’ve needed a few hours of stress relief from a harsher reality. Sometimes though, it’s quite difficult to measure how much, or how little, an effect different aspects of a franchise can have on people. Star Wars has impacted my life mostly through the people I’ve met in the fan community, and through the building of skills such as writing (which you see me doing now) and speaking, and learning such things like building a website, about audio equipment, interview techniques, and many other skills I’ve come to develop. If you go back to the beginning though, back to the movies that started it all, you’ll find many, valuable, life lessons. I will be writing about some of these lessons, and thought I’d start with a classic scene, one of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars movies.
There is a scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is training with Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah. Yoda is teaching him about the Force, concentration, and focus, when Luke’s X-wing he’d crash landed into the swamp starts sinking further into the mire. As Artoo sounds the alarm, Luke loses focus on his training and drops the stones Yoda was having him lift with the Force.
Blinking wisely, Yoda simply states: “That, is why you fail.”
“Impossible is only a word found in the dictionary of fools.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
There are many lessons that can be learned from Yoda. For instance the philosophies behind, ‘size matters not’, or ‘luminous beings are we’. However, today I’d like to focus on the differences between, and attitudes behind, trying vs doing. One thing I noticed right away was Luke’s negative attitude in the beginning. He started out with the assumption that it couldn’t be done, that he would fail, and in the end he lived up to that expectation. We’ve all heard of self fulfilling prophecies, but often we fail to recognize when we’re in the middle of one. Another way of looking at this is the idea that you get what you expect. If your mind is occupied with thinking about how or why you’ll fail, than it’s not thinking about creative ways to arrive at a solution. Some people tend to be stubborn, and when you tell them that they’ll fail, they try everything to not fail. But most people aren’t this way, and expecting anyone to do poorly, including yourself, is typically the fastest way to make sure they will do poorly!
“They succeed, because they think they can.” ~ Virgil
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” ~ Les Brown
Luke is pretty sure before he tries that he won’t be able to succeed, but he only tells Yoda after failing that Yoda asks the impossible. Using the word ‘try’ can be used as an excuse. Anyone can say “I tried” and use that to excuse the end result. After all, if we tried, what more could be done? If we deem a task impossible, than we aren’t to blame when we fail, right? Obviously, there are times we sincerely try our best, and we don’t succeed. And that’s ok. Hopefully we learn from our efforts, even if we weren’t successful in that particular endeavor. But it’s the mindset behind the word ‘try’ that counts. Using the word ‘try’ to let ourselves off the hook when we don’t succeed is one way to ensure we don’t try our best.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ Jillian Michaels
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” ~ Zig Ziglar
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford
Legendary soccer player, Mia Hamm once said: “Success breeds success.” Scientifically known as ‘the winner effect’, this principle means that those who succeed are likely to succeed even more. Why? Well, this may be because people are habitual creatures, and succeeding becomes a habit. Or the people who succeed are just talented and more likely to continue succeeding, etc. I think both are true, but I also believe that success tends to build confidence, and if failing is discouraging, than succeeding is encouraging, and brings the enthusiasm and self-confidence needed to whole-heartedly pursue other goals. The confidence to create plans, and believe from past (successful) experiences those plans will work, thus having the motivation to carry those plans to the finish line. If you believe you’ll fail, why bother to follow through with plans, or even make them in the first place? And if you’ve succeeded before, why should you believe you’ll fail? While it sounds trite to tell you to ‘believe and you can do anything’, it seems evident that beliefs and perceptions are powerful things, capable of affecting us in ways we don’t fully understand.
So is that the real difference between trying and doing? That, as Yoda says, the only difference is in our mind, and how we approach things? Don’t quit and use “I tried” as an excuse. Don’t think that you’re helpless. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how you choose to react to them. Try, and when you fail, try again with the determination to succeed. Keep doing something until you get it right. Perseverance, optimism and determination was what Yoda was looking for. Not perfection, it’s not about perfection. It’s about not giving up!
“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” William E. Hickson