Do or Do Not, There is No Try

Megan Overell

“Do or do not, there is no try” is a very famous Star Wars quote said by Master Yoda himself. Yoda is always speaking backward and sometimes you have to switch the words around for something to make sense, but even that won’t work for this quote. So what does it mean? How can you do something, but not be allowed to try it? 

“Do or do not” is fairly simple. Take doing homework for example, you either do your homework and turn it in and get some kind of grade, or you don’t do it. There is not much more to it. “There is no try” is what trips people up. To understand this part we must first know what try means. The definition of try is: to make an attempt or effort to do something. When do we use the word try? The word try is usually used when we are asked to do something, such as, “Can you do this math problem?” The responses can be yes, or no, but sometimes we say, “I will try.” So why would we say “I can try” instead of just saying yes? The answer is because we are not confident in our ability to do the math problem. We are not sure if we will be able to complete the math problem, or if we will have to go in during Flex to get help. With this usage of try, the new definition is: I am not sure I can do it.

How does this definition play into the meaning of the quote? Let’s use the math problem example again. Can you do this math problem? The answers are yes, which is our “do,” no, which is our “do not,” or I will try, which is our “there is no try.” If we say “I will try to do the math problem”, we are giving ourselves the option to fail. We are already saying I will most likely fail in doing this math problem and get it wrong. So, if you are going to free climb a mountain, and someone asks you if you can do it and you say, “I will try,” there is no way they are letting you on that mountain. You have already told them, and more importantly yourself, that you can’t do it.

Ok, time to put it all together. “Do or do not, there is no try.” You can do the math problem or you can not do the math problem. Don’t try because if you “try,” you aren’t even giving yourself the option of succeeding. By simply just doing the math problem, you are giving yourself more of a chance. Could you get it wrong? Oh absolutely, but that is ok. You can do something and fail, because the only way you can really fail at something, is if you don’t do it. 

In season 1, episode 5 of “Star Wars Rebels,” an animated Star Wars show, Kanan, a jedi, tries to teach Ezera how to use a lightsaber. Of course Ezera has lots of trouble learning and Kanan has lots of trouble teaching. At the end of the episode Kanan sums up this quote perfectly:

“I am not going to try to teach you anymore. If all I do is try, that means I don’t truly believe that I can succeed. So from now on I will teach you. I may fail, you may fail, but there is no try.”

“Do or do not, there is no try.” I hope that next time you are faced with a challenge, whether it is doing a math problem or climbing a mountain, you will remember Master Yoda’s words of wisdom, and just do. May the Force be with you.