The Wisdom of Yoda

December 15, 2015

Categories: wisdom

The newest Star Wars movie comes out this weekend, and to get myself back up to speed, I re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy. My favorite movie from the original trilogy is ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ One of my favorite parts from that movie is the scene where Yoda trains Luke to become a Jedi Knight.

As I watched, I realized that I could apply some of Yoda’s teachings to my own life. Here were the three teachings that helped me the most.

  1. You must unlearn what you have learned. Luke is upset because his ship sunk in a swamp. He doesn’t think there is any way he can get it out. Sure, he has learned to move small rocks with the Force, but Luke views moving the ship as something completely different. Yoda tells him that there is no difference; it is only different in his mind. Luke needs to unlearn what he has learned. In our lives, we often get stuck in one particular way of thinking or looking at a situation. After awhile, it becomes our reality. To make a change in our lives, we need to develop a new way of thinking and perceiving the world. In other words, we need to unlearn, before we can learn something new.
  2. Luke: “Alright, I’ll give it a try.” Yoda: “No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Luke gives a halfhearted, “I’ll try,” but you can tell by the way he says it that his confidence is low. It’s almost as if he is setting himself up for failure, not really thinking he can do it. In a way, he gives himself an ‘out.’ If he fails, it might not feel as bad, because he didn’t really have an expectation that he would be able to do it. How often in your life do you try halfheartedly, not believing you will succeed? This attitude doesn’t usually lead to a positive outcome. Instead, put your full self into your action, believing with your heart that you will succeed.
  3. Luke: “I don’t believe it.” Yoda: “That is why you fail.” After Yoda successfully lifts Luke’s ship out of the swamp and puts it back on to dry land, Luke is flabbergasted. He doesn’t believe it, and Yoda directly connects his lack of belief with his failure. There have been hundreds of studies in psychology on self-efficacy, which refers to our beliefs about our abilities to succeed at various tasks. Self-efficacy is positively related to our success—the more we believe we can do something, the more likely we are to succeed. How do we improve our self-efficacy? Click here for 5 strategies.

Discussion: Which one of Yoda’s teachings could you apply to something in your own life?


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