Powerful Words From a Jedi Master

“Do, or do not. There is no try,” -Master Yoda

I remember when I was younger putting in my Star Wars VHS tapes and gleefully watching the entire trilogy filled with outdated special effects of plastic spaceships and an exploding vincentmodel Deathstar. Make no mistake, I have always loved Star Wars, particularly seeing the growth of a young naive Luke Skywalker transformed into a powerful Jedi. The most intriguing and befuddling teacher of the growing Luke Skywalker was in my opinion Jedi master Yoda. Everything he said was backwards and usually in the form of a riddle, which as a child (and sometimes as an adult) made his words of wisdom very difficult to comprehend. However, there was one quote that I will never forget. It came at a critical point in the movie where Luke was trapped on planet Degobah with his X-Wing spaceship sunken inside a marsh. He makes several attempts to lift his spacecraft using the powers of the Force, but soon gives up after making what seems like little progress. In frustration he yells that he cannot lift it, and seems to give up on the idea of ever leaving the planet.  Yoda, being beside Luke, calmly closes his eyes (cue dramatic music) and by the mysterious power of the Force lifts the ship out of the mud and onto dry land. Luke is amazed by the power contained in his little green friend, the quote that Yoda gave in reply to his act of power, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” As a child I was dumbfounded. How could he lift the ship without “trying” to lift it?  Every subsequent viewing of Star Wars always had me repeating the same question to Yoda. Years later, as I became more acquainted with success and failure, I began to understand what it means to say you will, “try” something vs. saying you will “do” something.

One of the synonyms of “try” in the thesaurus is “sample”. Samples have no commitments. Samples aren’t asking anything out of you. Samples simply want you to take a little bit to see what you think about it. Life as I knew it, was all about samples. I treated academics like the free chocolates you get at See’s candy. I could sample good study habits and hard work, but if I didn’t want to follow through, I didn’t have to.

“Try” became synonymous with attempting something with no real commitment. Try was defining my life in a way that said, “If life’s a box of chocolates, you can take free samples before you pick your box”. Samples are fine, but at some point I needed to make a decision on what I really wanted out of life. I wasted years trying different things but making no commitments. Of course there are certain things that are “try-able”, but sometimes when you are trying to get your X-wing out of the marsh for the sake of the universe – you have got to do better than “try”. That was my thought on passing exam p, I said to myself that I WILL pass Exam P! I knew that the questions were chosen by chance, and there would be the possibility that I would receive questions beyond what I had studied, but to the extent of my power I would study every last thing. Even if it meant me retaking the test, I was going to pass it! So, I worked hard and studied beyond the required level – as set by ADAPT – and left the exam center with a notice of congratulations on my preliminary results. That moment I realized there was no more “trying” for me, I knew exactly what I wanted and how to get it. My dream is to become an actuary with my FSA. What is your dream, and how will you get it?

Do, or do not. There is no try.