“Do or do not. There is no try.”
As a mentor, Yoda possessed vast knowledge and served as a mentor for 800 years to Jedi knights. Yoda’s most notable charge was Luke Skywalker, teaching him how to be a “better” hero.
The roles of mentor and hero are mythical archetypes that occur across countless cultures and for many ages, speaking to one’s personal journey on a deep level. These archetypes also apply to one’s professional journey as a CEO. The hero performs several heroic deeds, driving the narrative forward, ultimately achieving his quest, while the mentor fulfills the role of trusted guide and adviser.
Yoda Gave Crap Advice
But let’s face it — Yoda gave some crap advice. If Luke gave zero f*cks about his first failure, Darth Vader would rule everything. If you gave up the first time you failed, you wouldn’t have learned anything. You wouldn’t have become the CEO you are today.
It makes you wonder what kind of pyramid scheme Yoda was running if it lasted 800 years. We don’t know how long Yoda served as Grand Master of the Jedi Council. However, he appeared incredibly influential in the Order for hundreds of years — and yet, all those centuries also coincided with the downfall of the whole Order. Just saying. Yoda would suck as a CEO.
Create a Culture of TRY
Most of us would rather channel the Schwartz, but since we’re facing a shortage of that right now — let’s unlock the power of the 10X Culture of Trying. Organizations need a leader that encourages trying, and learning and trying and learning and succeeding.
Look — failure is required. You must give yourself and your employees more encouragement and courage to try new things and fail. Just make sure you have ways of learning from the failures. It should be focused trying, not haphazard screwing around.
Consider Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994 as a result of his “regret minimization framework,” which means that Bezos wanted to look back over his life at the age of 80 and found that he had minimized his regrets and lived life fully. He knew he wouldn’t regret trying the founding of the company.
His motto was “get big fast,” which sounds like the “do or do not” part of Yoda’s crap advice, but Jeff Bezos is a leader who founded a solid, productive and profitable culture of trying. Here it is in Bezos’ own words:
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. Also, I knew that that would haunt me every day, and so, when I thought about it that way it was an incredibly easy decision.”
— Jeff Bezos
Bezos also says that “Part of company culture is path-dependent — it’s the lessons you learn along the way. ” He believes you need to be willing to be misunderstood if any form of innovation is to occur.
Failing Intelligently and Purposefully
Executives reported to the Harvard Business Review that only two to five percent of failures in their companies were truly blame-worthy, but they also stated that some 70 to 90 percent of their failures were treated as blame-worthy while the details went unreported, lessons unlearned. When reports do circulate around the office, the analysis is superficial at best.
Errors fall into three categories: preventable, complexity-related and intelligent. The latter occurs as a result of necessary experimentation. So, fail intelligently, even when the consequences seem preventable.
Look to your mission and diversify your teams. Strategically producing failures also allows you to learn the way scientists do. It’s important to analyze your patterns of failure, and failure is one of your most precious assets as a CEO.
Maximize your return on it by creating a culture of trying, and fail intelligently and purposefully to innovate, rather than witness the downfall of your Order.
We’ll just leave Yoda to be the Grand Master of Fortune Cookie Writing: “Already know you that which you need.”
Try the 10X way, and make a culture out of trying.