In Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is stuck. His ship, an X-Wing, is sunk in the mud and he’s trying to get it out. Yoda is instructing him in the ways of the Force. It’s when Luke says he’ll try to use the Force to get the X-Wing unstuck that Yoda shares this wisdom with Luke.
The message is kind of harsh. “Give it a try” is common turn of phrase. But Yoda rebukes Luke for not having more confidence. To try is to see how it goes, to test the waters and see what’s possible. Yoda wants Luke to do away with the thought of trying, and to do something.
Trying, failing and giving up is not doing
When you think about it, there’s a deeper truth to what Yoda is saying. In all things, you either do them, or your don’t. Compare setting out to just try with setting out to do and do again until something is done. In trying, there is a suggestion that if you don’t attain your goal, oh well, you tried. When Yoda tells Luke that this is only do, or do not, he’s telling him that you either accomplish something or you don’t. Trying, failing and giving up is not doing. Trying, failing and trying again until you succeed, that’s doing something.
Yoda’s message is don’t be satisfied with an attempt. Keep on going until you have done what to set out to do.