Maybe it’s my sarcastic nature, but I just can’t get into motivational quotes. A participant in a recent leadership development program suggested that we send them an inspiring word of the day. Instead I sent her a link to the fabulous site despair.com, which lampoons those awful motivational posters. I bought a wine simply because the label read “Pessimist.”
That brings me to a quote that has been popping up in people’s email signatures and Facebook feeds:
“Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda
Give me a f***ing break! I appreciate the sentiment behind it. Sometimes you just have to jump off that proverbial cliff to see results. Sometimes people use the word “try” as a CYA tactic in case things don’t work out. Trying allows an exit. Doing implies commitment despite the risks. But can’t we have a little wiggle room? Life is not that black and white. Zero to sixty still has incremental progress. Trying gives us the chance to experiment, to make mistakes. Doing it means we can execute based on applying what we have learned through trying. That rarely happens the first time. Doing also means it’s now or never, and you’d better not slow down.
I am trying this blogging thing because who knows! I might give it up or I might laugh a year from now at how primitive it looked. I’m making changes as I go along, and despite my need for structure and control, I’m open to possibilities.
To Yoda’s defense, he had to be harsh. Remember how whiny Luke Skywalker was? I’ve seen white belt children who were tougher than he was.
Last night’s class was great. Everyone in our small group was ready to learn, including a freshly minted black belt. The color belts are a warm-up to the first big step of learning in taekwondo. The black belt is not the end of the journey; it’s just a step along the way. There was a whole lot of trying going on. We were learning new one-step sparring techniques, which included complicated hand-to-hand combat and takedowns. We tried them several times. The first few always end in eyebrows raised in question and self-deprecating smirks, and eventually they become fluid and powerful. If it weren’t for trying my instructor wouldn’t have been able to give me constructive feedback so I could change my approach, and I wouldn’t have been able to coach my training partner along so he could make some progress.
“Do” sounds so harsh. Get a sense of humor, man. Try it on for size.
TKD has a motto that may evoke some eye-rolling: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” The TKD symbol, a roly-poly encircled in a water lily designates tenacity, like the weighted inflatable clown that pops back up after a punch. The beauty of that quote is that it allows for failure. It acknowledges the dark side of life. You can’t have triumph without some tears. Once in a while you slip and step in the mud, and if you’re astute enough to learn from your experience, you try something different.
And I just hate sappy quotes.