Do or Do Not- There Is No Try

Do or Do Not- There is No 'Try'

So, let’s make it clear upfront that I am not Star Wars fan, yet I can’t go past the wisdom in Yoda’s quote: “Do or do not – there is no try”. Given a whole day (21st May) is dedicated to Talk Like Yoda, I couldn’t help but to use this opportunity to talk about one of my favourite elements of emotional intelligence and that is the emotional undertone of the words we use, especially the word ‘try’.

We know that our subconscious mind is not only very powerful but very influential over what we think and also in what we actually do. Every time we communicate, whether it be vocally or electronically, a strong emotional undertone is delivered through our words that is either spoken by or spoken to our subconscious mind.

This doesn’t stop with us. The emotional undertone is then heard by the subconscious mind of anyone receiving the communication, again whether it be vocally or electronically. Therefore, the importance of the words that we choose to use in any form of communication will determine the success of the communication and the actions as a result.

The word ‘try’ is similar to ‘maybe’. Our subconscious mind already knows the answer. It is entering into the conversation with a bias influence on the outcome and really just delaying the inevitable. Our subconscious mind already knows that it’s highly unlikely or we don’t really want to do it and given our subconscious mind is like our best friend, it will make sure that is exactly what happens.

With this in mind (literally), we also lack ownership in our decision letting the bias influence silently take control.

Ever found yourself saying “I’m going to try to go for a run today” or “I’m going to try to get that report done today”. In most instances, we don’t end up doing it and we blame not having enough time or the weather or someone interrupting or ‘needing’ us. We tend to blame the lack of outcome on either someone else or something else and rarely ourselves. Everyone has the same amount of time: 24 hours in every day. How we choose to spend that time is based on our priorities and decisions. Not anyone else, our choices.

The impact on the person receiving the ‘try’ communication is just as bad. I want you to picture you asking me to do something for you and I answer with “I’ll try”. How confident are you that this will actually happen? What are your confidence levels in my ability to deliver what you have asked for? The emotional undertone is also speaking to the other person and impacting their thoughts on us. 

Communication is something that is covered in the ‘Ask It’ part of my 5 part methodology, you can learn more in my book, ‘Emotional Intelligence’

So, how we can we change our response and avoid using the word ‘try’?

Here is an example of a situation and 3 different ways to respond:

Question: Amy are you able to send me through a new article for this month’s newsletter by 4pm tomorrow?

  • Answer 1: Yes, I absolutely can.
  • Answer 2: My time is already allocated for tomorrow, would 12pm the following day work?
  • Answer 3: Let me check my priorities and due dates and I’ll come back to you within the hour with an absolute answer.


Next time you find yourself using the word ‘try’, stop and tap into your subconscious mind. You already know the answer. Remove the doubt and dependencies and say what you know for sure. Own it and communicate it like Yoda said: “Do or Do Not – There is no try!”.




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