The Greatest Teacher Failure Is
The first time I watched Star Wars, I was in the cab of a semi truck, somewhere in the western half of the United States. My Grams and Grandad were truckers, and I would spend weeks of my summer travelling with them on their long hauls. We’re talking about the early 90’s here, well before cell phones and tablets were a thing. So for entertainment, I had to rely on the tiny VCR/TV that barely fit into the cubbie where it lived. When the 18-wheeler hit a good sized bump, the screen would freak out and take 30 seconds to settle back down. And my Grandparent’s movie selection was extremely limited, but that didn’t really bother me. Because when I wasn’t staring out the window or hanging in a truck stop, I would watch the original trilogy on repeat. My point is, like most Star Wars die hards, I was indoctrinated early. The Jedi ideals played into my moral decisions. And despite how much I liked the visual appearance of the Sith, it was Yoda’s proverb of, “Do. Or do not. There is no try”, that has been my favorite quote to live by…that is until this year.
As an entrepreneur, I find it’s hard to sustain on positive mental attitude when faced with more challenges than successes. We toil away at our craft, pour countless hours into honing our skills, but for whatever reason we fail to gain traction. Tony Robbins would suggest we’re not being resourceful enough, but to me, the spark of passion needs to be stoked by success, even a very modest one. I, like many of the entrepreneurs I’ve talked with, exist on passion. There’s a fire in our guts that is eating us alive from the inside. All we want to do is feed it with the kindling of progress and success, but it can too easily be quelled by failure. Smothered by self doubt. Disappointments turn the the fire of passion into a smoldering pile of regret. Well, here is where Yoda steps back in to offer another nugget of insight.
Without spoiling the plot, in The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker was dealing with a similar situation. He was making progress on his path, but failure and self doubt crippled him to the point of giving up. When he was at his darkest point, he’s visited by Yoda’s ghost. Among a whole smattering of knowledge, Frank Oz delivers a truth bomb that honestly made tears form in the corner of my eyes and a smile to erupt across my face. The greatest teacher, failure is. These words seem so simple, maybe even obvious. They kind-of are. But it’s something we ignore all too frequently. Instead of framing failure as the worst thing imaginable, Yoda suggests we change the perspective. We need to concentrate more on why something failed instead of just that it failed. Basically, be more resourceful. Every problem has a solution. These range in complexity and severity, but the most resilient minds will persevere and learn from failure, not be deterred by it.
Like many Star Wars die hards, I have my reservations about everything that isn’t the original trilogy. I could go on about my distaste for certain characters or choices made. But despite my skepticism, I appreciate that there are still great messages in the movies and powerful quotes to keep in my arsenal. I love that there’s a new generation of fans familiar with the ways of the force. And I know Yoda wasn’t the first to tell us to learn from our mistakes, but he’s a mentor that I connected with and a teacher we all could benefit from. He his quotes simply state how to be successful. “Do. Or do not. There is no try”, and “The greatest teacher failure is”, speak volumes. To put it another way, you’ll never be successful if you don’t start doing. It won’t be easy, but learn from failure. Fight through the setbacks. Concentrate on mastering your craft. And may the force be with you. Always.