Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yoda told it straight

"Do or do not. There is no try."
- Yoda character in 'The Empire Strikes Back' movie

"Try" is one of the most awkward words in the English language.

It's dictionary meanings are all relatively positive in nature. Yet the connotative meanings of "try" (meanings that are impled through use, but not written in disctionaries) are more negative.

"Try your best" suggests that the person may not have otherwise attempted the task or that he may fail in his attempt. But it sounds positive.

"Try to eat your beans" implies that there is a strong dislike for beans on the part of the person.

Even such as usage as "try on this sweater to see how it fits (or looks)" suggests a good possibility that the sweater may neither look good nor fit well.

"Just try" seems like the last attempt by a frustrated parent who is ready to give up on a child.

Children understand connotative meanings of words often better than adults. Adults have had decades more experience with word meanings, usages and dictionaries than children. Children understand their world first by interpreting what they see and hear. "Try" is used with a negative connotation so often that a child hearing a parent tell him to "try" gives him a strong hint that the parent expects him to fail, at least to not succeed completely.

Yoda said "Do or do not." There is determination, commitment in these words. "Do or do not" tells the receiver to not waste his time with fruitless attempts nor raise the hope of the speaker despite failure being likely if the doer lacks sufficient courage, commitment or effort.

Do you want to make the world a better place? Do or do not. Don't pretend that you will do your best while intending to not put your heart into it. Others have done that to us too often for too long. We can't spend promises or sleep on broken dreams.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
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