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Why Yoda Was Tragically Wrong – Stephen Palmer

yoda Why Yoda Was Tragically Wrong   Stephen PalmerYoda, wrong was he.

Frustrated with Luke Skywalker’s attitude during their training, Yoda shakes his head and says, “Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say? You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Luke considers and says with little conviction, “All right, I’ll give it a try.”

“No!” Yoda exclaims. “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

I don’t know what planet he was on, but it wasn’t planet earth.

As much as I love the little green, wrinkly humanoid, my entire theory of ethics, my fundamental formula for success, is encapsulated in three words: Never stop trying.

Were we to adopt Yoda’s rigid, inhuman stance, failure would be the story of our lives. Fail we would every time we did not — regardless of how hard we tried.

Einstein, with his feet firmly planted on planet earth, said wisely, “You never fail until you stop trying.”

Jedi Masters may transcend trying and do things right the first time, every time, but I’ve yet to meet a human who fits the bill.

We are a fallen, broken race. Our journey on earth consists of a never-ending process of trying, failing, and trying again. Imagine our tragic destiny if Father told us, “There is no try…” I thank Him every day for the gift of trying again.

I’ll give Yoda this: Luke did have a hopeless, defeating attitude. Thus, his trying was half-hearted at best.

Legitimate trying is earnest striving, with hope and faith in a positive outcome. Trying without faith is the husk without the kernel, a seed without soil and water.

Trying alone doesn’t cut it. The secret sauce of trying, the “midi-chlorian” that gives it power, is persistence.

Luke’s pathetic attitude was, “I’ll try, but if it doesn’t work, I’m giving up.” A reason to be frustrated Yoda had.

The formula that transforms imperfect trying into ultimate success is this:

Trying – Failing x Persistent Trying Again = Success

 
Our faith is demonstrated by never yielding. Despair and hopelessness engulf us when we lose faith.

“Never stop trying” acknowledges our mortal state, accepts our imperfection. But it is not a justification for sloppy work, but rather a call to excellence. It gives us not comfort for our excuses, but rather motivation to awake and arise to greatness despite our imperfections. It is not a formula for discouragement, but rather for courage. As Marry Anne Radmacher said,

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

First and foremost, “never stop trying” is an imperative to try in the first place. As David Viscott said,

“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized–and never knowing.”

Yoda was also right that we must unlearn what we have learned from broken people in a broken society:

  • “You’re not good enough.”
  • “You don’t deserve to succeed.”
  • “Avoid risk at all costs and play it safe.”
  • “A job provides safety and security.”
  • “It’s impossible.”

You are good enough. You deserve whatever you’re willing to commit to and fight for. The riskiest life is playing it safe, cowering in the darkness of squandered potential, shackled by golden handcuffs, as my Entrepreneur Manifesto declares.

It can be done, and you can do it. You just have to never stop trying.

**************************

stephen palmer Why Yoda Was Tragically Wrong   Stephen PalmerStephen Palmer is a writer and entrepreneur devoted to helping people conquer limitations, maximize their potential, and achieve true freedom.

He is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, the founder of Life Manifestos, and the author of Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America.

He co-authored the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. He is also the co-author of The Conscious Creator: Six Laws for Manifesting Your Masterpiece Life.

Stephen and his wife are raising their four children in southern Utah.

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Comments

  1. Jary Welker says:

    Stephen,

    I remain a Yoda follower first. While I certainly agree that we must “never stop trying” I am not sure that is the message Yoda was sharing. Yoda was being the ultimate life coach to Luke. Far too many of us say “I will try to do it” as an excuse or fall back so that WHEN of IF we fail we can at least say that we tried. That was Luke. Yoda was simply saying the same….and perhaps unsaid but intended in his message was your message too. Keep trying until you succeed.

    Thanks for your reminder and post

  2. Good morning. I can appreciate the thoughts in the above article, but I have to disagree. When Yoda is saying this to Luke, he is really emphasizing the need to have the appropriate mindset when going after a goal or a destination. If we look at something in the mindset of trying we already have the allowance for failure, indeed it is subconsciously a 50/50 whether we will succeed or fail in our minds. However, when we approach something with the notion that we will not fail, but we will most assuredly succeed, then failure has been removed from our minds, as well as the capability of copping out and saying we were simply trying. What we must do is choose the mindset of succeeding, then when we do fail we can analyze the failure, pick ourselves up, and move forward.

  3. Michael Maloy says:

    Great article, and I agree with the two previous comments. Yoda is simply emphasizing to Luke that his attitude should be, “I will DO this task, I will not stop trying until it is DONE, therefore, I am not trying, I am DOING.” You got it right in the end when you said, “It can be done, and you can do it. You just have to never stop trying.” That was Yoda’s message. Again, thank you for a great article!

  4. Jary, Roy, and Michael, if you go back and re-read my article, you’ll find that you’re all saying exactly what I said.

    I’ll give Yoda this: Luke did have a hopeless, defeating attitude. Thus, his trying was half-hearted at best.

    Legitimate trying is earnest striving, with hope and faith in a positive outcome. Trying without faith is the husk without the kernel, a seed without soil and water.

    Trying alone doesn’t cut it. The secret sauce of trying, the “midi-chlorian” that gives it power, is persistence.

    Luke’s pathetic attitude was, “I’ll try, but if it doesn’t work, I’m giving up.” A reason to be frustrated Yoda had.

    The formula that transforms imperfect trying into ultimate success is this:
    Trying – Failing x Persistent Trying Again = Success

    Still, there is something deeply and profoundly wrong with the sentiment, “There is no try.” As I say, “Imagine our tragic destiny if Father told us, ‘There is no try…’ I thank Him every day for the gift of trying again.

    If you are Christians, put this in a Christian perspective. Are we “doing” our way to heaven?
    Stephen Palmer recently posted..Why Yoda Was Tragically Wrong – Stephen Palmer

  5. Trying with faith denotes the process of becoming. Failure leads to Success if we stop and confront brutal reality question our own virtue and make the nessissary adjustment. Success is not about being perfection it’s about progression! Thus, never stop try with faith that you goal will manifest is GREAT advice!! Let the force be with you.

  6. Chris LaBlanc says:

    Finally something to disagree with you on :). This would make a great discussion face to face. I ask you while sitting in your office to try and pick up your pen. There is no try there is only do or don’t. If I try to build my LIFE business by trying to show the plan but not showing up to my appointments that’s not failure that’s just not doing it. Failure is actually committing an act but not getting the result you want and then quitting. By (trying) anything you never committ an act to quit from. That is what I think Yoda ment. Just having the back of a Jedi master. May the force be with you. ;)

  7. Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.

    I believe that our job is to do all that The Father asks.

    What manner of men ought we to be?

    When all is said and done, it is doing that counts. We’ve been promised that if we accept the help that is given, we will always be able to do.

    All the mentions I can think of in the scriptures using try are about a test and usually administered by the Lord, never about only attempting to do something (unless it was Satan or evil or some other wicked attempt to test the righteous). (The one possible exception being to try the experiment, but even then it is actually to do a test.)

    Maybe the only disagreement for any of us is the definition given to the word TRY.

    Try as used by Yoda was based on luke warm rather than hot or cold as is preferred so as not to be spewn out.

    Additional thoughts to ponder–even within a Christian framework.

    I will still tell my children that they have to make a decision up front to do or do not. However, I’ll make a more conscious decision to explain what I mean about do not try (attempt only so that an excuse exists for doing or not doing).

  8. The mathematician in me has a problem with your equation: Trying-FailingXPersistant Trying Again=Success.
    It seems to me it should be (Trying-Failing)XPersistant Trying Again=Success.
    Order of operations would have multiplication come before subtraction but parentheses before multiplication.
    I know, somewhat trivial in the overall scheme of things.

  9. Heidi Vause says:

    Thanks for this message, Stephen. I wholeheartedly agree and can’t wait to share this with my family.

  10. Hunting.Targ says:

    I have, contrary to my custom, skipped reading all the comments before sounding off, because I don’t think the lesson is in the first exchange. Watch the rest of the scene, and see Yoda, the ancient master ( who must have had his share of failures in his long, venerable past) accomplish something that Luke limits himself to believing is unachievable. Yoda is not more powerful than Luke, he is simply further along the Slight Edge curve.
    http://youtu.be/8EwcYwax4Oo

  11. Patrick says:

    Hmmmmm . . . Comment I will.

    I would say that Yoda was not tragically wrong, but, exactly right. While this article has some good points, it is not perfect also, and has mis-judged the wise little green guy. There is a phrase in the Bible that speaks rather strongly against those that “. . . make a man an offender for a word . . .” (Isaiah 29: 20-22) which has just occurred here against Yoda.

    Yoda did not make a blanket statement as an absolute, all-encompassing truth that would never allow people to ever err or make mistakes. He was speaking in context to Luke’s dismal, hopeless attitude (The author acknowledged Luke’s attitude and the understanding of Yoda’s apparent frustration with it.) A careful study of the life and teachings of Yoda (albeit, a fictional person to begin with) would reveal that Yoda did not believe nor expect instant perfection from himself nor anyone else.

    The “try” that Yoda spoke against was this insincere lack of committment falsehood that Luke was voicing. The “do” that he was suggesting allowed no room for failure, but it did not ever suggest that perfection had to be instant.

    Any failure we experience comes when we allow ourselves the possibility of failure–when we don’t just DO what we came to do.

    I know that none of us are perfect, but, we can be. Just because we all have made mistakes does not mean we are doomed to continue doing so. We can overcome faults, even in this life, and do things exactly right. We can do just as Yoda recommends and set our minds to a task and “DO” it against all obstacles, if we really want that more than anything else.

    Our potential is quite limitless. I know this to be true. We can overcome ANYTHING. We can DO . . . or do not.

  12. Patrick,

    Yoda isn’t a man. He’s a fictional character. Furthermore, he’s a fictional character with a Cosmic Humanist worldview.

    As a Christian, not only do I find his advice in this instance wrong, but also deeply disturbing. In fact, it is in direct contradiction to Christianity.

    I can’t imagine, I can’t fathom, I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around my Savior telling me, “There is no try.”

    The entire essence of my Savior’s life and message was, “Keep trying. Do your best. You will fail time after time after time. But I will make up the difference.”

    And if I make it back to His presence, He’s not going to tell me, “Good job, you DID your way here.” He’s going to say, “You tried your best, and my grace is sufficient for the rest.”

    In the first comment above, Jary said, “I remain a Yoda follower first.”

    Well, I remain a Christ follower. And I am eternally grateful that my Savior tells me over and over again, “Keep trying.”

    If Yoda were my Savior, I wouldn’t have a chance at salvation.

    It escapes me why people rush to the defense of a little green fictional buffoon in direct contradiction to Christian doctrine. I suppose it makes sense if you’re not a Christian, which I totally respect.

    But if you are a Christian, you may want to rethink this in light of Christ’s message to you, me, and the rest of this fallen race…

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Why Yoda Was Tragically Wrong – Stephen Palmer