Most of us who were born in the last half-century have a Star Wars memory (or ten) from our youth: light saber wars in the backyard, dressing up as our favorite characters for Halloween, or “using the Force” to open automatic doors at the grocery store. But Star Wars gave the world so much more than a sci-fi universe to capture the imagination. The metanarrative challenged us to think more deeply about the power of intention. In the words of Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), “Your focus determines your reality.” What does that mean, really? Simply that it matters what we think about, dream about, and ponder. What we focus on shapes our character, motives, direction, and who we become.
In honor of May the Fourth, here are 10 iconic Star Wars quotes and insights from Jedi masters to remind us to be intentional in our choices and decisions, as we stretch to improve our lives and ourselves:
- “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
By embracing the unchangeable things that make us different, we can learn to leverage our unique qualities, discover and develop hidden talents, and fulfill our potential.
- “You will know the good from the bad when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Pausing to calm down when surrounded by turmoil enables us to assess situations without our thoughts being clouded by emotions, and to make reasoned choices that we won’t regret later. We’re best served when our focus and intent are directed at improving ourselves, not bringing others down.
- “If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Nobody enjoys suffering, but facing and dealing with difficulties strengthens us—helping to build the resilience necessary for personal development. Obstacles can provide us with opportunities to springboard our growth and deepen our understanding of our own capabilities. “Quick and easy” mastery is a contradiction of terms. Anything worth developing and becoming will require sacrifice, effort, persistence, patience and time.
- “Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin. They’ll betray you.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Before we know it, our thoughts can run wild and hijack all productive, constructive thinking in exchange for panic, anger, worry, and despair. Intentionally observing and harnessing the nature of our thoughts is an empowering act. Thoughts generate feelings, which impact how we speak and act—ultimately determining our destiny through our decisions, patterns, and habits.
- “Patience you must have, my young padawan.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
We’ve all heard that patience is a virtue, but it’s also a valuable skill that we can develop over time. The value of practicing patience in our lives is immeasurable. Being more patient improves our physical well-being by reducing destructive emotions like stress, anger, and frustration. It allows us to process and view situations from different perspectives, be more empathetic toward others, and build stronger and healthier relationships.
- “In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The darkness of a moment can make it easier to recognize and welcome the power of timely insight when we need it most.
- “Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Sometimes our perception of reality is skewed by our thoughts and the vantage point from which we observe events. This is why it’s important to assume that we do not have the whole picture, simply based on what we perceive.
- “The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Loss is inescapable in life. The more we fear it, the more defensively we live our lives trying to prevent it. When we anticipate loss as a natural part of growth and development, we make room to thrive in our interactions with the world and other people.
- “The best confidence builder is experience.” – Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition (2018 novelization by Jason Fry)
The most intimidating element of an obstacle can be the unknown. Experiencing our own ability to take on new challenges, stack small wins, and build momentum can reshape the story we tell ourselves about what we’re capable of.
- “Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
When we pursue big dreams and lofty goals, failures become the signposts of progress. It’s not fun to fail, but it’s a requirement for growth and achievement. By embracing our own failures—and sharing what we’ve learned with others—we accelerate our collective progress by encouraging risk, vulnerability, and community.
The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth (TLC) is a social enterprise company serving the Greater Philadelphia Area. Among its five divisions, TLC offers School-based Staffing Solutions, Mobile Coaching and Counseling, and Heather’s Hope: A Center for Victims of Crime. These major programs are united under TLC’s mission to promote positive choices and cultivate meaningful connections through education, counseling, coaching, and consulting.
About the Author
MaryJo Burchard (Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership) is co-founder and principal of Concord Solutions, a Virginia-based consultancy firm focused on helping leaders and organizations thrive while facing major disruption. Concord Solutions offers consulting, coaching, training, research, and keynote speaking surrounding trauma-informed leadership and assessing and building change readiness, trust, and belonging.