Last night Kurt and I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We are still feeling conflict deep within us. Your work and life will also generate mixed feelings that blend the dark and light within you. We’re here to help you find peace and purpose. Here are six leadership lessons from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Luke Skywalker schools Rey in the unfortunate legacy of the Jedi, which is a religious order marked by pride and failure. Skywalker recounts how even at its height, the Jedi Order was destroyed by the Emperor and the Sith. For him personally there was also the failure of training and guiding young Ben Solo. After some pretty fantastic old-man-pouting, Skywalker eventually realizes that he must learn from his errors, not flee from them. According to Guy Winch, when we reflect on failure one of the things we must evaluate and, more than likely, let go of are the things beyond our control. While powerful, Luke Skywalker is only one man and by embracing his role in some pretty big mistakes as well as jettisoning the guilt caught up in his relationship with Ben Solo and the troubled past of the Jedi Order, Luke moves forward (as a projected battle-hologram or something) to become a powerful symbol of hope for the galaxy.
Poe Dameron argues that leadership is about heroic actions, like taking down a dreadnought battle cruiser with a single X-Wing. General Leia shows the feisty pilot that misdirection, seceding territory, strategic thinking, and allowing others to step up and take action is how we lead in complex times. Margaret Wheatley would agree with Leia. So would John and I. In your work life, hot shot tactics can feel the most satisfying form of production, but they rarely lead to the best long-term solution.
The movie added close to 30 minutes so that Fin, Rose and BB8 travel to a planet of gamblers and war mongers in order to find a plot device and critique the dominant economic ideology in this galaxy. Interestingly, Millennials around the world are questioning capitalism, so maybe there’s something to this angle. We aren’t too sure whether this fits perfectly as a professional lesson given that we are all part of the system, but if you do want to draw something from this critique it might be this: think about whether you can find a career that supports a purpose in your life, something beyond just merely making money (that you can spend at casinos).
By the end of the film all the Resistance has in its war chest is a princess/general, a handful of pilots, a potential Jedi, a Wookie, some droids, and a spark that might ignite rebellion in the galaxy. Big things can come from small beginnings. Just ask Leia (or the #MeToo movement for that matter). So the next time you feel overwhelmed by the breadth of a challenge, just remember that every rebellion or disruption starts with a spark of an idea.
Holy crap did The Resistence ever get beaten down in this movie. By the end of it they have lost two bases, probably thousands of lives and everything else but the Millenium Falcon! And yet they keep persisting. Grit is probably the defining characteristic in our personal and professional successes. No matter how frustrating things get, it is important to retain a positive attitude and eye on the prize. Ultimately, this resilience will be crucial in helping you attain your goal. To learn more about how you can cultivate grit, check out one of our most-read articles on the subject!
One of the key tenants of success in all the Star Wars movies is mentorship. Both sides of the struggle for control of the Force and the galaxy (dark and light) believe in mentorship, though it appears that the Dark Side mentorship is rooted deeply in experiential learning (Kylo Ren’s dual role as task force commander and special projects leader), while the Jedi favour a blend of lecture/debate and practice. One of the powerful leadership lessons from the film is when Yoda burns down the Jedi Temple’s source of wisdom that is thousands of generations old – I think this highlights the rise of reverse-mentorship from Skywalker, Rey and even Kylo Ren. Just because things have been done a certain way doesn’t mean that an organization should keep doing things that way – mentors can always learn from their mentees because the experience should be reciprocal.