I wrote this blog just prior to Paizo’s 2014 RPG Superstar contest. I’m resharing it this week for two reasons, writing this week’s blog was trickier to schedule than I originally planned and because I needed to hear this message again for myself. Whenever I have a tough week I have to remind myself that only I have the ultimate power to stop myself from moving forward. I bootstrap myself up a lot, it is exhausting, but the alternative can be worse. I like to think that Schödinger’s Cat is alive.
I have little reason to dedicate posts usually, but at the risk of being ostentatious, I would like to dedicate this post to my Paizo forum friends who entered this year’s RPG SuperStar as well as to my friends who have or are in the process of publishing their new games, game translations, supplements for the first time, or anyone else who is living their dream. ~ Monica
In this galaxy, a mere 34 years ago, I first heard the words “Do or do not, there is no try.” To my not quite 9 year old ears, I just thought Yoda talked funny and hoped that they would hurry back to Han Solo, because he was dreamy and not half as whiney as Luke. As the years past I didn’t change my mind on the Han/Luke thing, but I did search deeper into the wisdom of Yoda and contemplated the seemingly simple statement to find great comfort and insight, which I will share with you, since you asked me so nicely.
“Do or do not, there is no try.” Eight simple words. Eight syllables. Everything we face in life is a challenge that we have the choice of facing and surmounting, if we wish to out forth the effort. We find things that mean something to us that makes our heart sing and our minds run like hamsters on a wheel. If you’re like me, you think, plan, overthink, discard plans, and generally you put off the point where you put out the effort because you’re paralyzed by the fear of failure or sometimes, success. I like to think of this as Schrödinger’s Attempt, the point in time where I believe an effort may work or may not work, but I’m afraid to open the box and find out the answer.
Yoda’s words challenge us, dare us, to open the box. Did your effort succeed? Did your effort fail?
Regardless of the answer, something happened. Not achieving a goal is not always failure. At this point I get scientific and ask myself (especially when I “do not”), what did I learn from my effort? How can I make my next attempt more successful? If I succeeded, what part did I find most challenging? How could I repeat my efforts and do it better next time? Can I repeat my effort and get the same results? Did I put my very best effort forth?
I go through this process out loud with my children when they do something new. Because of Yoda, I do not use the word “try” when they are giving something their first effort. I don’t want to give them the verbal crutch that “try” imparts. You either Do something or you Do Not. You may only Do part of your goal and Not Do another part of the goal, but you did it. How can you do it again better?
The shoe manufacturer Nike made “Do It” their catch phrase and what a fantastic choice it was. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, they even picked a great company name, because they know that even if you don’t succeed, you did it. You went out, you gave your best effort and you succeeded at overcoming all the self-doubt that can plague every last one of us when we are faced with something new and untried. Do It.
We just passed New Year’s Day, when people traditionally make a resolution of something they wish to change or do in the coming year. The only thing standing between you and success is are you going to do it or not. Do or do not. The choice is yours to make, open the box and make the attempt.
January is also Paizo’s annual contest, RPG SuperStar, when potential game designers put forth their best effort and they DO. Such a leap of personal faith and effort, putting yourself in the open, letting other people see how you think, what your strengths and weaknesses are and being vulnerable. I have such love and respect for every last one of the individuals who enter. Only one person “wins” every year, but every individual DOES. They Do It! They overcome the voice that tells them that their effort isn’t enough, that they will fail, but they overcome it. Yoda would be proud. YOU should be proud of your accomplishment. You did it. If you don’t make it into the Top 32, it’s okay, really. It will be disappointing, yes it will, but you have a place to start from. There are those in the gaming community who will help you. Use them and thank them for their generosity. The gaming community is a rare place where there is always another spot at the table for you, all you have to do is step up and do it. It may not be easy at first and maybe you will decide that It isn’t for you, but don’t stand in your own way by only making Schrödinger’s Attempt.
Remember Yoda’s challenge for all things “Do or Do Not, there is no try”.