Sunday, October 2, 2011

...from The Dark Side

In a galaxy far, far away there are business lessons to be learned too.

Generations have grown up to the battle between good and evil captured in the distant imaginary planets of Star Wars. And although most kids end up becoming a corporate Jedi, we can’t ignore the lessons learned along the way from the Dark Side. 

There is resurgence in the Force (yet again) with the release of Star Wars on Blue ray. So, I wanted to pay tribute to over 30 years of an Evil Empire and its relentless pursuit of winning.

It goes to show that we can learn from the bad guys too.

The Ten Things I Learned from The Dark Side of the Force

1. Learn from your mistakes
The Death Star, a planet-like space station was the ultimate super weapon for the evil empire in Star Wars. Fortunately for the good guys, it had a flaw: a two meter wide exhaust vent that was large enough for torpedoes. The Family Guy parody of the 3rd movie, points out how the Empire made a similar mistake again on a rebuilt station. In our corporate planet, our personal responsibility is to better ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and look for ways to correct our flaws.

2. Protect your company information
Both Death Stars –from Episode IV and VI - were destroyed by direct attacks because rebels got access to plans from the ships. In those plans, they found the flaws that would lead to the Empire’s repeated destruction. Protect your company’s information and avoid them falling into rebel hands. The loss of this info could make you vulnerable to attack.

3. Have a succession plan
The bad guys are called the Sith, and even before their rise to power, they had a succession plan with the Emperor always having a backup – from Darth Maul, to Count Dooku, to lastly Darth Vader. In the final chapter, both the Emperor and Vader want to convince Skywalker to join either one –or the other- to rule the world. In your corporate empire have an employee or multiple who could be your left hand person and successor.
See the birth of Vader while this link lasts   

4. Build company loyalty
To protect themselves, the Republic created an army of clones – the classic white armored men that became known as Stormtroopers. From their early training, they had been indoctrinated with absolute loyalty to the Republic even when it came to executing Jedi leaders in Episode III. Without resorting to cloning and evil, build positive loyalty within your organization through business smarts, inspiring behaviors, and great results. 

5. Have a master plan
It took Senator Palpatine many years to control the Galatic Empire in Star Wars as his true identity – Darth Sidious (a.ka. The Emperor). However, from his early days in the planet Naboo he had a master plan on how it would all go down, including turning Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. Don’t expect your career to develop overnight, develop an elaborate plan on how to get where you want to, and setting your dictator-type behaviors aside, work towards achieving your desired job.

6. Take matters into your own hands
When the rebels launched the ultimate attack on the first Death Star, Luke Skywalker was among the leads. As enemy fighters protected the ship, none could target Skywalker’s plane accurately. Disappointed in the results, Darth Vader got onto his own plane in search of shooting down –spoiler alert- his own son. There’s a place for delegating at work, but sometimes when things aren’t going your way, take matters into your own hands. Like Vader, you might not resolve them either, but at least you tried (and saved your life)
See the scene here while this link lasts

7. Reduce risks by testing things out before
In Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader wanted to turn Skywalker to the Emperor by freezing him in Carbonite on the planet of Cloud City. However, he had to be certain the procedure wouldn’t kill his prize, so he tested it on Han Solo first. As you try new and risky tasks at work, try them out first to minimize any risks of failing on the things that could matter more.
See the scene here while this link lasts.

8. Don’t trust those closest to you
In the last Star War film, Revenge of the Sith, we see Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader and turn against his best and only friend, his mentor, his teacher: Obi Wan Kenobi. Imagine raising a kid and teaching him everything you know only to fight him years later. Be careful with those you trust, particularly the ones closest to you who know you all to well – there’s a chance they too could turn to the Dark Side and against you.

9. Double your best work each time
Just when you thought a Lightsaber was the coolest Jedi weapon in the universe, George Lucas comes up with a character that carries two – or a double bladed one – Darth Maul. But that wasn’t enough; in the last movie of the franchise he introduces General Grievous that carries four! Always outdo your best work two fold. When you’ve mastered something; push yourself to take it to the next level.

10. Overcome ignorance and hatred
Anakin Skywalker was a good guy – at least his mom, wife, mentors, and son thought so. But his ignorance of the Dark Side and his misguidance from the malicious Emperor was what led him to evil. The other factor was his unresolved childhood issues. Overcome confusing decisions on what side to join by becoming smarter through research, books, and courses. Oh, and resolve your childhood issues too!  

It’s pretty easy to be tempted by the Dark Side with the promise of power and success, but those stories don’t last long and good always overcomes. Its our job to bring balance to the Force at work everyday.

My final advice would be to learn from the failures of evil, and follow the wisdom of Yoda, a little green Jedi Master with more than 900 years of positive lessons. Check out one of his lessons while this link lasts  "Do or do not, there is no try."

* Star Wars, its logo, characters, pictures, and all related items are registered trademarks and/or copyright of Lucasfilm Ltd.

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