012: Do Or Do No - The Is No Try
I was driving to a conference last week listening to a podcast as I often do. I forget the exact topic of discussion, but it revolved around effort and results. The notion or ‘trying’ came up and my mind immediately jumped to the scene from Empire Strikes Back when Yoda is teaching Luke the ways of the Force. Luke is learning how to lift rocks using the force (using his mind) - his next task is to lift his X-Wing (spaceship) out of the swamp, while doing a handstand, with one arm, with Yoda sitting on his feet....nothing too challenging. Anyways, Luke fails in lifting the X-wing, losses concentration and him and Yoda come crashing to the ground. “Lifting stones is one thing, but this is totally different”. Luke says. To which Yoda replies "NO, NO - it’s only different in your mind, you must unlearn what you have learned”. “Alright, I’ll give it a try”. And then the famous line from Yoda - “No - try not. Do or do not, there is no try”. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to totally nerd out on Star Wars for this entire article, I do have a point. And it involves me unlearning what I had already learned.
I always took this quote from Yoda to mean that you shouldn’t approach a task by ‘trying’ to do something. You should already know you will complete it before you start. In other words, you should be steadfast in the outcome before you start or else don’t do it at all. It’s a results based way of thinking. I KNOW I will complete this task and achieve my goal, so I will do it. But while I was listening to that podcast I had an epiphany and realized I’d got the context of this lesson from Yoda all wrong. It’s not about the results, it’s not about going in with a steadfast belief you will get it done - or else don’t do it at all. That’s a limiting belief. Instead, it’s about letting go of the focus on the outcome so you can simply do the thing. At this point in the movie, Luke has lifted stuff with his mind before - lifting something bigger is no different. Focusing on the outcome took him out of the moment, out of the task, and he couldn’t complete it. What he needed to do was to focus on the task, not the results, he needed to simply do the thing - not try to control the outcome. The point Yoda was making was that Luke already has the ability to do this, he can already lift things with his mind. But the self doubt he creates limits his potential. Starting to sound familiar? Starting to see how this could relate to how you approach your work and career?
All too often we are focused on the outcome of what we are doing. I need to write a lead single for my next album. I need to get more social media followers. I need to sell more tickets to my next concert. And as your career grows, you feel these things getting bigger, like there is more pressure. But what you fail to remember is that you’ve done all these things before in the past. You’ve lifted these rocks before, so there is no reason you shouldn't be able to do it again - ‘it’s only different in your mind’. When you first started songwriting I’m sure your focus was never on writing a certain type of song, for a certain purpose, for a certain type of people - you simply did it. You weren’t focused on the outcome, you were focused on the task. You need to get back to that place in order to lift these bigger stones. Don’t try to do something, don’t try to write a hit song, don’t try to create great content for social media, don’t try to get more people to your show. Simply do the things. Write songs, the hits will come. Create great content and people will notice. Put on your best shows each time and people will come. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control how you approach it. Focus on the task - the same one you’ve done countless times before. Stop thinking it’s now a bigger problem and start approaching it the same way you always have, the same way that got you the success you already have.