Lessons in success: Star Wars style (spoiler alert!)
I originally wrote a form of this blog in December after seeing the new Star Wars film but held off publishing it as I didn’t want to give away any plot points to those who hadn’t seen it yet. However, I’m hoping that by now – in February – everyone who wants to see the film now has and if they haven’t, they surely can’t be too concerned about spoilers otherwise they would have seen it earlier.
I absolutely loved the film – the characters, costumes and landscapes, not to mention the action! And despite being set amid military conflict a long time ago in a galaxy far, far way, it has a lot of lessons to teach us about success in business today. The first is not to invest all time and resources available in a single obsession. The Empire (renamed as the First Order) has so far built three death stars, and while experiencing some temporary success, each time it has ended in failure. In business, I am reminded to keep an open mind and stay flexible as new competitors come onto the market with new technology. If something isn’t working or the market changes, our business must change too.
The second is to surround myself with a creative and competent team who can continue to drive the business forward, even when I am not around. The Empire has gone to great lengths to produce a clone army with no independent thought and a strict hierarchy to control all activities. The Resistance, however, is full of free-thinkers who make valuable progress, even when Luke Skywalker is not around.
Moreover, you cannot beat your competitors on your own and a good team needs a mix of young energy like Poe Dameron and Finn, combined with the knowledge and experience of characters like Maz Kanata and Chewbacca. Once you have the right people, you need to make sure they all know what they are fighting for and they will come through for you.
The film also showed how important it is to show initiative and take responsibility for your own development. Even without any formal training Rey learns how to survive on a wasteland planet by scavenging, pilot a spacecraft and become an extremely adept fighter. The right attitude and desire took her a long way on her own – she is able to use Jedi abilities to control a Stormtrooper to help her escape and even defeat Kylo Ren in a duel. Now she has sought out a mentor, she will develop even further.
Finally, you have to believe in doing the right thing in the right way. As soon as you start playing with the dark side it can suck you in. Kylo Ren had a good background but he was impatient for results and did not care how he achieved them. Whenever we interact with customers, suppliers and staff, we must always remember that the means is just as important as the end.
May the force be with you!