Yoda - The Jedi Master on Success

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I’ve recently introduced my kids to the Star Wars films, and in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Yoda utters one of my favourite quotes of all time… “Do or do not. There is no try”. I posted this on my facebook page shortly after watching the film, and it was shared with thousands of people!

It really seemed to hit a note with everyone – and that’s because it is inspiring in so many ways and in so many contexts:

Firstly, it is about being honest with yourself, and recognising that you have choice, and the right to make that choice. It’s OK to say ‘no’ and to decide that something isn’t for you. In many ways, it is better to say 'no' up front rather than tell someone you will 'try' or 'think about it', and then let them down later. These are very important lessons in planning your time, assertiveness and coaching.

Secondly, it highlights the importance of language and expectations. ‘Try’ is a neutral word – it is interpreted differently by different people, and is one of the main reasons for problems with communication, and telephone communication especially when dealing with contact centres. Language also has a important role in customer service and handling complaints, when what we say builds expectations which are then met or not.

Thirdly, the quote is all about taking action – not thinking or talking. It is our actions that get results, not our thoughts, and this is key in topics like Goal Setting and Performance Appraisal.

Finally, the quote underpins so much good management practice and leads me to think about one of my favourite theories of all time: Steven Covey’s Circle of Concern. This urges us to focus our time and effort on things that we CAN affect, not things that we can’t. Not only is this vital for personal effectiveness, but it also plays an important role in influencing people, and handling difficult people when we have choose what to address and what to walk away from.

I wonder if George Lucas realised what a profound line he was writing at the time, or if it is only with hindsight that the words have become so meaningful?

So this week, remember "Do or do not. There is no try" See what difference it makes to YOUR success.

Louise Gelsthorpe

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