Yoda was Wrong

That title ^ may be considered blasphemy.  It pains me to write it. And it is true.

If (for some reason unexplainable reason) you do not have a hint what I am talking about, Yoda famously remarked “Do or do not. There is no try.”

And that is where Yoda was wrong. Try matters. A lot.


We have created a culture of risk-adverse organizations afraid to try.

Yet risk is the only proof we have that hope is believed in.

We have created a culture of funders that want 100% success.

Yet even the best cardiologists in the world have heart attack patients that die. And they still get paid.

We have created a culture of landlord recruitment for perfect clients.

Yet we have clients that are far from perfect.

We have created a culture where some other city or jurisdiction must have figured it out first and we can just replicate it.

Yet we fail to leverage our local context when applying foreign knowledge.

We have created a culture of ideas parading as “solutions”.

Yet we don’t take the risk to create a strategy to hold them all together.

We have created a legacy of plans.

Yet we are afraid to put them into action lest we not succeed.



And fail.


Try again.

Get better.



You have to try.

You must try.

Lives are in the balance of waiting for the “try”.



Iain De Jong

About Iain De Jong

3 Responses to “Yoda was Wrong”

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  1. Actually, I think this whole scene is an excellent metaphor for a certain segment of the homeless services community. While the scene does turn on the “Do or do not” quote, the real point of the scene is at the end where Yoda succeeds and Luke says he doesn’t believe it. Yoda responds “and that is why you fail.”

    I’m sure we can all think of organizations who might reluctantly resign themselves to “trying” Housing First (for example) without really believing it works. When they “try” they will proceed with hesitation, will fail to implement fully, will expect failure and use that failure as an excuse to quit trying. “Trying” in this context is very much about not believing success is even possible and therefore “Do or do not” is an invitation to fully embrace the attempt and forgo the skeptism that is likely to contribute to failure. When we try and fail, let it be because of external factors and not because we held back and therefore didn’t really try.

  2. Ben Cattell Noll says:

    I still believe in Yoda. I think he is just encouraging Luke to give it his all rather than make a half-hearted “attempt.” A wise man once told me “imperfect action trumps perfect planning”- I think this is a similar ask. Switch out a jedi-in-training lifting a sunken x-wing fighter plane from a swamp with a case manager assisting someone who has been without a home for 20 or 30 years to locate and move into housing and I think Yoda would give the same advice. This is a task many people would think impossible, but we know better! We don’t have to “try” to house this person- we can just house them! We basically know the best practices and what works to help people get into and stay in housing, let’s DO those things. If the first DO doesn’t work, let’s DO something else. Or DO NOT house them, in which case you should find a new job. Why just “try” when you can “do”?

    Thanks for another enlightening post!

  3. Caitlin Bayer says:

    Reminds me of a quote from Samuel Beckett:

    “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”