Yoda’s “Do or do not. There is no try” Quote Explained


There are a lot of different quotes in the world of Star Wars, and all of them have their unique meaning. Some of them have withstood the test of time because they have lived with us for decades, and Yoda‘s famous quote in ‘Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’ happened while he was still in the early part of training Luke Skywalker. He said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” So, what does it mean?

When Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try,” he was telling Luke that the first step to achieving something is actually doing something. He was telling Luke that he must do what he needed to do instead of simply trying because doing allows him to achieve his goal instead of simply trying.

Many people tend to forget the importance of action when it comes to achieving goals, and Luke quickly understood that merely trying was not going to help him achieve his goal of becoming a Jedi. In that regard, Yoda told him that he needed to step his game up by performing the action instead of simply trying. So, with that said, let’s expound more on this topic.

Taking action is important

One of the things that we saw in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was that Obi-Wan’s Force Spirit instructed Luke Skywalker to go to Dagobah to seek the guidance of a strong Jedi Master in the form of none other than Grand Master Yoda himself, who was arguably the strongest Jedi of his time. That was when Luke split up with his friends and headed to the swampy planet of Dagobah to try to seek a master that would complete his training as a Jedi.

Luke was surprised to see that the Jedi Master he was told to seek was an old, tiny, and crusty frog-looking creature that looked nothing like a strong warrior. Nevertheless, Yoda proved himself the powerful Jedi Master that Luke needed to learn from, and that was when he showed that he had the abilities of a true Force wielder. Yoda, although reluctant, proceeded to train Luke in the ways of the Force, and that was when Luke started to show how impatient he could be.

In one scene, Yoda was teaching Luke how to use the Force’s telekinetic abilities. That was when he gave up quite early due to how “hard” it was for him to perform what Yoda wanted him to do. But when Yoda showed that he could lift an entire X-Wing fighter from the depths of Dagobah’s swamps, that was when he showed the true nature of the Force. 

Of course, Luke said that he would “try” to do what Yoda was telling him to do. And that was when Yoda told Luke one of the most memorable lines in the entire storyline, which is “Do or do not. There is no try.”

When Yoda told Luke this, he was telling him that the only way for him to succeed in what he was supposed to do was for him to actually do it. In the real world, the only way for someone to achieve a goal is to actually take action. People often forget the importance and power of actions, and that’s why a lot of people fail in the things they want to do.

So, when Yoda told Luke that he needed to “do,” he was telling him to show his conviction toward taking action instead of just simply trying. Taking action was the only way for Luke to achieve his goal and for him to learn the ways of the Force. And that was why Yoda was teaching him the importance of taking a step toward a visible goal he wanted to achieve.


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In the smallest way of putting things into perspective, one person has to start walking before they can get from point A to point B. So, taking into account what Yoda said about how important it is for someone to “do,” the person needs to actually take a first step for that person to begin walking. And it is only through that first step that the person can eventually walk all the way to their destination.

Applied to Luke’s training, Yoda wanted Luke to learn the importance of showing conviction toward becoming a Jedi by taking action instead of barely putting any effort into what he needed to do. And that is why Yoda wanted Luke to “do,” as this was the only way for him to learn the ways of the Force.

Of course, he also told Luke that the only choices are between doing or not doing. Not doing anything, obviously, does not do anything toward helping a person reach their goals. And that’s why the only choice for Luke if he wanted to reach his goals, was for him to “do.”

Not committing is essentially failing

In addition to the fact that Yoda wanted Luke to “do,” he also told him that “there is no try.” That essentially means that he didn’t want Luke to stick to simply trying because there is no conviction when it comes to trying.

When Luke said that he would “try” what Yoda wanted him to do, there was no conviction behind it. It was like he was half-hearted in his goal of becoming a better Force wielder and a true Jedi. Yoda felt hesitant, and that was why he said it was only an option between doing or not doing. For Yoda, simply trying would not cut it because there was no conviction or sense of commitment to trying.

As such, when one is trying to achieve a goal, it is important to make sure that there is a sense of commitment and conviction behind the person’s action. Trying something out is simply dipping your toe in the water before taking it out. And dipping your toe and taking it out is essentially failing to commit to swimming in the water.


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So, in relation to Luke’s training, the important thing for him to do was to stop trying because trying would not help him achieve his goals, especially if there was no sense of commitment behind it. Instead, Yoda wanted Luke to actually perform the action because simply trying was not going to help him achieve his goal. 

This is where the importance of conviction comes in when it comes to reaching goals in life. It’s not like trying things out is bad. It’s just that simply trying things out won’t be as helpful to achieving goals as actually performing an action. And that’s why people need to be committed to their actions if they want to get from point A to point B in everything that they do in life.

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