One of my lifestyle changes in the early weeks of the COVID-19 shutdown last spring was watching old movies on Netflix, including one of my favorites, the original Star Wars trilogy.

Do you recall the iconic scene from the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, where Yoda is instructing young Luke Skywalker in how to use the Force, asking him to retrieve his disabled spaceship out of a bog where it has sunk, using only his mind?

Even though in the previous scene, he discovered he could move small stones this way, Luke balks at Yoda’s request, thinking the spaceship is simply too large. But as Yoda patiently explains, the only difference between moving small stones and a big spaceship is in his mind. Finally, Luke succumbs to Yoda’s wish, and reluctantly agrees to “give it a try.”

Yoda’s response, now forever enshrined in Star Wars folklore, says…

“No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

It’s a great example of the utter uselessness of the word “try.” To say we will try is really saying we don’t have to—or plan to—actually do anything.

Consider this: You’ve asked someone to help you move, come to an event you were hosting, or simply call you back and they responded, “I’ll try.”

Did they come through for you? In my experience, don’t count on it!

I can honestly find no reason not to eliminate the word try from your vocabulary.

Think about it: As Yoda said, you either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

A question to ask yourself: What are you trying to accomplish?

• Are you trying to get in shape—or are you getting in shape?
• Are you trying to improve your marriage—or are improving your marriage?
• Are you trying to show up better at work–or are you showing up better at work?

The word “try” provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t achieve what we say we want.

In the film, Yoda’s wise advice served as an important encounter in Luke’s journey to saving the Empire. And regardless of the journey you’re pursuing, this seemingly minor distinction has huge ramifications.

I have noticed that, like “try” versus “do”, there are other distinctions that, if we’re perceptive and teachable, can help us present the best version of ourselves. But often, due to our past experiences, limited belief systems, and lazy thinking, we sabotage our growth and limit our effectiveness.

In a series of upcoming posts, I plan to unpack the power of perspective and share my top five dynamic distinctions to broaden your mindset, sharpen your thinking, and present a better version of you—stay tuned!

Here’s a challenge: For the next 7 days, anytime someone makes a request to you, make a mental note of how often you are tempted to respond with “I’ll try.” Then choose an alternative reply. Is it hard or easy? What alternative response did you choose? How did it make you feel?