A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away people once had a positive image of Star Wars. Their memories included Han Solo being frozen in carbonite, Luke Skywalker kissing his sister, and Darth Vader being defeated.
Then, not too long ago, those memories were replaced with Jar Jar Binks and podracing. There was a disturbance within the force.
Today, the force was balanced once again. Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens released. And it reminded us all why Star Wars keeps us coming back.
We see new heroes such as Rey and Finn rise up. We see our old friends Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess (Now governor) Leia, and Luke Skywalker make appearances.
It was familiar. It was also refreshing.
So, that leads to the age-old question: What can Star Wars teach us about leadership?
Caution: Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers are below (I’ll put major spoilers at the end)
Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- One person can make a difference: We see Lor San Tekka hand off a valuable piece of information to the X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron. This piece of information would lead the Resistance to a person who will be critical to their survival.Lor was one person. Yet he made a difference. He gave the Resistance what they needed.Do you ever feel like you can’t make a difference? That one is too small of a number?
It’s not. Not when you’re doing right. Know that YOU can make a difference.
- Poe Dameron –
I’ll come back for you.
Poe had to leave the BB-8 droid behind as the First Order attacks. He knew BB-8 would be able to escape even if he couldn’t.
Even then, he still made a promise… One that said he’d come back for him.
Poe was in a dangerous situation. A situation he put himself in so he could protect valuable information.
That was bravery.
It’s hard, but sometimes we have to send someone away as we stay in the fight. We may hope that we will come back to them. But we must stay because it’s the right thing to do.
- Great adventures begin with yes: When Rey finds the BB-8 droid, she had a choice. She could have told the droid that she wasn’t going to help it. Instead, she said yes.
That’s where her great adventure began. She took a chance and said yes to an opportunity.Will you say yes when opportunity comes knocking on your door?
- Poe Dameron –
The Resistance will not be intimated by you
The First Order was pretty scary. They were armed to the teeth and had plenty of soldiers they could lose in battle.
The Resistance, on the other hand, was a rag-tag bunch with low numbers.
Still, they wanted to hold their ground. They were proud and knew what they were fighting for. They weren’t going to give into intimidation.
You’ll face numerous opponents as you lead. People will challenge your vision. People will challenge your desire. People will challenge your direction.
Don’t be intimidated. Do what you know you must do.
- Money isn’t everything: Rey was a poor girl, just scrapping by. When she went to turn in her scrap finds, the man behind the counter offered her 60 portions of food for BB-8.
That’s a lot of food. More than she could probably ever dream of getting at one time.Yet she turned his offer down. She couldn’t leave BB-8 with him. There were some things that were more important than food or money.I’ve seen many people go for the money. They see what it can offer and believe it will fulfill them.
Years later, they come back empty. The money didn’t give them the joy or happiness they thought it would.
Be careful chasing after money. It’s not everything.
- Han Solo –
Chewy, we’re home
Man, I almost teared up hearing this line. There was emotion here.
Chewy and Han had been away from the Millenium Falcon for so long, they’d missed it. It was their home, after all.
You’ve got to know where your home is. This is the center of your life.
Find it and guard it. There’s nothing more valuable.
- Watch for opportunity: At one point in the movie, Finn is trapped by an angry creature. His arms are wrapped around him and pulling him away from safety.Rey had a different idea. She knew she could save him. If only the opportunity presented itself. And it did.If we look for it, opportunity is all around us. With the internet and cell phones and all of our connectedness, we’ve got more opportunity than we know what to do with.
Watch for it and seize opportunity when it presents itself to you.
- Han Solo –
This is not how I thought this day was going to go
Han’s day got messed up with the appearance of Rey and Finn. His plans had to go out the window.
You’ll have days like this as well. Something will go wrong. An old friend will show up.
Whatever it is, you’ve got to be ready to roll with the punches.
- We can be pulled in multiple directions: As the movie progresses, we begin to see that Kylo Ren is a divided man.He desires to belong to the dark side of the force. Still, he feels a pull to the light side. He’s torn.Leaders are torn all the time as well. You have to make decisions that will hurt others. You have to make a choice between good and good.
You will feel pulled in multiple directions. Choose what you feel is the best course of action and take it.
- Han Solo –
A little bit more to it than that. You’ve got a lot to learn
Never forget: You’ve got more to learn.
- Finn –
I made a choice
With this line, Finn reminds us that we all have a choice. We can do what’s right or we can do what’s wrong. The choice is yours.
- We may want to run from our calling: Rey found a lightsaber. This lightsaber once belonged to Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.After touching it, she runs. She wants nothing to do with it.However, the lightsaber is calling to her and it’s her destiny. She can’t run from it forever.
Calling is a scary thing. Especially when it goes against what we want.
We can run from our calling. Yet our calling will catch up to us one day.
- Han Solo –
Take off that mask. You don’t need it
Oh, how cutting. Han tells this to Kylo Ren yet it applies to each and every one of us.
We wear masks to protect ourselves. We feel the masks will make us stronger or keep us from pain.
They don’t. They mask those things.
We don’t need masks. We need authenticity.
- We will lose people: The Resistance lost a lot of good men and women as they battled The First Order. The enemy took them out.Like the Resistance, you’ll lose people as well.They’ll lose sight of the vision. Their goals in life will change. Others will just give up.
Even when we lose people, we’ve got to continue to push forward. It’s a part of life.
- We don’t start where we end up: We discover that Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Luke Skywalker was training him as a Jedi when he decided the dark side was more alluring than the light.There are plenty of examples of leaders who go bad, much like Kylo Ren. They start off fantastic and everyone loves them.Then something changes. They become power hungry, lose sight of the goal, or some other mishap.
Realize, it’s easy to fall to the dark side of leadership. Keep your eyes on the light.
- You will learn a lot on the job: As Finn and Rey are fleeing the First Order, they stumble upon the Millenum Falcon. It’s old and beat up (when wasn’t it?) but it still flew.Rey hopped into the driver’s seat and attempted to fly the spaceship. She experienced difficulties as she’d never flown it before.However, we see her begin to get the hang of flying the Millenium Falcon after some trial and error.
The same will go for leadership. You won’t always know what you’re doing.
There will be on the job training. You’ll learn as you go. Be willing to go with it.
- The mission makes a difference: Han Solo was ready to kick Rey and Finn off of the Falcon. He didn’t want anything to do with them.That was until he heard what they were trying to do. They were going after Luke Skywalker.When Han heard this, he changed his mind. He wanted to go after his old friend.
The way you state your mission is important. Your mission will get people to buy in or say so long.
Know what you stand for and let people know the mission.