As a big Star Wars fan, I’ve always noticed the close parallels between the protagonists of George Lucas’ universe: The Jedi, and practitioners of the Martial Arts. Yoda, the ageing grand master and ever-wise mentor, is of particular interest to me and one of his many classic quotes will form the central idea of this post.
The stoic and philosophical nature of his character has been described by some as “mystical”, however I would argue that is less “mystical” and more “methodical”. For anyone involved in the martial arts, creative arts (or any discipline really); I think we can all begin to glean some deep understandings from one of my favorite Yoda quotes: “Try not, do or do not. There is no Try.”
Many times, I’ve sat down with students who lack confidence or have legitimate learning issues and watched as they encounter and attempt to deal with challenges in areas like, mathematics, reading & writing and the like. The fear of failure is the antagonist to every student I have ever taught. As a result, many students will “give it a try”, using this mantra as a perceived buffer or as a means to lower the stakes.
Unfortunately, this is a fallacy. We are giving ourselves an ‘out’; creating an excuse that we can fall back on if or when we fail. If I doubt my ability to perform and I fail, at least I can say “Well, at least I tried.”… This narrative allows for failure, it says to my ego that a failure is a positive outcome just because I ‘gave it a go’. This narrative completely shuts down my ability to approach the failure I have experienced objectively and stops me from engaging in learning from my mistakes.
So when it comes to engaging with a task, we need to remove doubt from our minds as we enter into it. Whether it’s something completely new or something we repeat constantly. Completely inject yourself into the task at hand; do it, don’t just ‘try’ it. There is no such thing as trying; if you’re trying something, it just means you are already in the process of doing it, so you may as well be doing it with one hundred percent commitment and presence of mind.
The fear of failure and doubt are our greatest enemies when we set out along the path to complete any task. When we allow them to enter our thought process, we are essentially negotiating the terms of our own surrender, compromising our integrity and the initial reason we embarked on our chosen task in the first place: to be successful in it. Don’t compromise your goals to reach success and don’t just try, but do.
Do not allow doubt and a mindset that makes you shy away from failure and learning make you think that failure is an acceptable outcome.