For 800 years have I trained Jedi,” Yoda explained to an impatient Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. In honor of this week’s release of Stars Wars: The Force Awakens, I thought it best that we all sharpen our mental edges through the wisdom of Grand Master Yoda. Much can we learn to toughen our minds if listen we will to Yoda’s instruction.
Luke was sent by the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi to seek Grand Master Yoda in order to complete his training to become a Jedi. Found Yoda he did in a swamp on the planet Dagobah.
3 Jedi Lessons
Regardless of which arena of life you battle in, Yoda has wisdom that we can all benefit from. When it comes to mental toughness, I’ve identified 3 lessons we can learn from Yoda.
Lesson 1: Commit
Luke first discovered that his host was the great Jedi master he was seeking at dinner in Yoda’s hut. During this encounter, Yoda explained to Luke what it takes to become a Jedi. He told Luke, “The Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.”
Without commitment we can achieve little of significance in life. Success doesn’t come easy, nor quickly. To achieve our goals will require dogged determination, relentless persistence and a deep commitment to stay the course. We must be committed to our causes, our purposes, ourselves, our families, and our teams.
This is but one essential component of cultivating mental toughness.
The next two lessons come from this famous scene depicting advanced Jedi training.
Lesson 2: Believe
As you can see in the scene, the mighty Luke Skywalker struggled with confidence – believing in his growing abilities. Does that sound like anyone you know?
When Luke gave up on getting his ship out of the swamp, Yoda replied sharply, “So certain are you? Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?” Luke was stifled by his self-imposed limitations. He relied on past experience to tell him what was and wasn’t possible. Fortunately, trailblazers Thomas Edison and Roger Bannister didn’t think this way. They both did the “impossible” by creating the lightbulb (Edison) and breaking a four minute mile (Bannister).
Back to the video clip. Luke continued to focus on limitations, “Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.” Yoda then left no room for discussion, “No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.”
Like young Skywalker, we stumble over what we believe to be our limitations. We give too much power to doubts and fears. As a kid, I believed anything was possible. I believed I could be an astronaut, dunk a basketball, or fly off of a mountain. Why not, I thought? We must reclaim limitless thinking and dream big once again. We must unlearn what we have learned and avoid self-imposed limitations.
Lesson 3: Do
In exasperation, Luke caved to Yoda’s insistence. “Alright. I’ll give it a try.”
Don’t we do this? I’ll try to get up earlier tomorrow. I’ll try to exercise three times per week. I’ll try harder. I’ll try to work on my marriage. I’ll try to communicate better with my team…
According to the Jedi Master, we should throw in the towel on trying. “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Infamous. Powerful. What’s wrong with trying? Should we give hard things the “‘ole college try” as the saying goes? No! There is no try. As someone once said, trying is like failure with honor.
We think if we try, no one can fault us for failing. “Well at least I tried.” In reality, what we are saying is that we aren’t willing to fully commit (see Lesson 1) to following through and getting results. We aren’t willing to put ourselves out there because we might fail. “I’ll try” is really just a precursor to an excuse. Saying we’ll try is a good way to ensure we come up short whatever the task, habit, or goal may be.
Now, Practice Your Training
Whether you are seeking excellence in sports, work, or life, much can you learn from Master Yoda. Wise he is at 900 years old. Heed his coaching to commit to your goals, believe in yourself to achieve the impossible, and do or do not because there is no try. May the Force be with you.
Question: What is your favorite piece of advice from Master Yoda? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
- Post: Ask This 1 Question to Open Doors to the Life You’ve Dreamed Of
- Video: Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Training by Yoda
- Link: Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI