Do. Or do not. There is no try - TopTenMM Star Wars Moments
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
One of the centerpieces from The Empire Strikes Back is this classic scene with Yoda and Luke. Luke has just crash-landed on the planet Dagobah. Here he meets the Jedi Master Yoda and this scene contains not one but several power lines that became all-time favorite quotes for not just fans, but CEOs, management experts, and trainers alike.
Luke has just watched his X-Wing sink in a bog. Yoda has been taking him through the paces of Jedi training and Luke is quite thrilled at being able to lift stones with just the power of his mind. Now Yoda invites him to use his newly discovered Jedi power, to lift his X-Wing spaceship out of the bog. Luke is overwhelmed by the task - “Master, moving stones around is one thing, but this is... totally different!” Bang comes the first power line of the scene, as Yoda gives him a verbal smack.
“No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.”
The gravity of that sentence hits us in the gut. So often we grapple with problems that we label as gigantic and unsolvable. But what makes it gigantic and unsolvable is only that we think it so. As Sally Kempton put it, “It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head”. Yoda reminds us that real learning has to start with unlearning.
Luke, still tentative says: “All right, I'll give it a try.” Bang - bigger verbal smack and perhaps the BEST power line of the whole Star Wars series when Yoda declares:
“ Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Yoda is showing Luke the central spirit of being a Jedi - commitment. There isn't any tentativeness; there isn’t half-heartedness, there can only be a firm stepping forth. You can’t cross a chasm with a step - you must leap. The Jedi takes responsibility. The Jedi doesn’t look for excuses. The Jedi doesn’t prepare to fail.
Luke, still half-hearted, gives the task - in spite of the admonition- a try. The spaceship quivers, as it rises to the traces of the young Jedi-to-be’s still infant power. But overcome by his lack of belief, the spaceship sinks back. Luke provides the excuse that was always within him. “I can’t. It’s too big.” Again Yoda provides a masterclass in Jedi-speak.
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?”
This theme- that big means stronger and better- is always hammered at, through the Star Wars journey - as small people, supposedly weak people, the underdogs fight back, strive against all odds and overcome. This power line from Yoda is slammed at us in full-blown visual glory for one of the most unexpected fight scenes of the series when Yoda battles Count Dooku, in Attack of the Clones.
Luke gives up and walks away frustrated and angry. Yoda lifts his hand a trifle, closes his eyes and unleashes, unsheathed Jedi power - the X-Wing rises in submissive obedience out of the bog, into the air and glides across the clearing to a graceful landing. Luke is dumbstruck. “I don’t believe it” he stammers. The scene closes with the final power line:
“That is why you fail.”
We are reminded of THE Jedi who once said: “ According to your faith let it be done to you.”