Ten Important Business Lessons We Learned from Star Wars

A long time ago, in a galaxy far,far away, there was a movie about business, called Star Wars


Sure, it was entertaining 35 years ago. But the enduring value of Star Wars is that it taught America, and the rest of the galaxy how to do business, am I right? We all learned some important business lessons while watching Star Wars and it’s sequels, or prequels, depending on your perspective. Defying the odds, we even managed to learn something useful from The Phantom Menace.

So, in honor of the recent anniversary of George Lucas’ seminal space opera, let’s talk about just 10 of the important business lessons we learned from Star Wars:

Learn To Use Your Tech – Remember how clumsy Luke Skywalker was when he first picked up a lightsaber? That could be you with, for example, an Excel spread sheet, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Think of the damage you could do swinging that thing around the office willy-nilly. Get some training.

Value the Wisdom of Age – Age brings challenges, obviously. Obi-Wan was so old that he forgot R2-D2, and whether we’d like to acknowledge it or not, dementia had robbed Yoda of his ability to speak English syntax coherently. Still, those old codgers knew more about Jedi mind tricks and defying the laws of space and time than any Harvard MBA. There is no substitute for experience.

Mentor the Young – Where would the galaxy be if Qui-Gon hadn’t taken Obi-Wan under his wing? If Obi-Wan hadn’t shown an interest in Anakin? And then if he hadn’t tried to fix that mistake later with young Luke? The point:your younger workers are the future leaders of your company. Pass your knowledge on to the next generation.

Work Can Consume You, If You Let It – If Darth Vader had spent more time whacking a ball with Luke and Leia than he did whacking folks with a light saber, he would have been a better dad. All that time building an empire, only to lose his wife, his kids, his health. Remember what they say, no one ever got to the end of his life and wished he had spent more time on the Death Star. Keep your work and life in perspective.

Recruit Wisely – When you’ve got a position to fill, you want Han Solo, a guy who’s creative, who thinks outside the box, who brings some energy to your corporate culture, a guy who shoots first – except in the 1997 Special Edition. You don’t want Jar Jar Binks, no matter what he brings to the table. You just don’t. So ask the right questions in the interview.You’sa be glad you did.

Figure Out What You’re Good At, and Stick To It – While Steven Spielberg was spreading himself thin with everything from E.T. to Schindler’s List to Jurassic Park, George Lucas demonstrated that you could make a good living by just doing the same thing over, and over, and over again. Some may scoff, but Lucas proved that the world has an insatiable appetite for light saber duels, hot spaceships, clones, and leaden dialog delivered by talented actors. Genius! The lesson: do what you do well, and keep doing it all the way to the bank.

Value Cultural Diversity – Some may think that Lucas didn’t figure out the value of ethnic diversity until The Empire Strikes Back, when Lando Calrissian showed up to prove that there were black folks in space. But is that really fair? After all, what would the Mos Eisley Cantina be without all those multicultural drunken brawlers hanging out? If you said, “a wretched hive of scum and villainy,” you’d be right – only it would have been an un-diverse wretched hive, and who needs that? Star Wars proves that heroes can come from any background and culture. That’s true in any good business.

Discover Your Force and Use it Well – In Star Wars, we learn that without a doubt, it’s not smart to ignore the Force. In that galaxy, the Force was everywhere and in everything. In your galaxy, or at least your office, the Force is what drives your good employees to succeed. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s praise. Maybe it’s time off to do things important to them. Maybe it’s being able to work on something good in the community with the blessing of the boss.Whatever it is, if you learn the ways of the Force, you can motivate the good employees. You can also make the others better – Just look at their work and say, “These are not the results you seek.” If that doesn’t work, your mastery of the Force will allow you to at least restrict their breathing from across a conference table.Just kidding! They’ll get better.

Choose the Right Allies – The Star Wars movies are filled with incidents of  treachery and betrayal – Anakin turned on the Jedi, Palpatine turned on the Republic, even Lando turned on Han, at least briefly. So, whether you’re a space pirate with a heart of gold, a business leader contemplating a merger, or a newbie wondering which coworkers to go to lunch with, it’s important to select your allies carefully. In business, as in Star Wars, sometimes there are warning signs. So if your inner Yoda raises red flags, listen to him you should.

The Dark Side Will Make You Ugly – Just think about Senator Palpatine. He went from a pleasant looking, grandfatherly old fellow to a guy who had to hide his kisser under a hoodie. And what turned cherubic young Anakin Skywalker into the pasty, lung damaged Darth Vader? The Dark Side. So it goes for corporate entities and their leaders who do bad stuff.  If we learn anything from Star Wars, it’s that good wins in the end. And never mess with a Wookiee.





Author: nickpattersonfreelance

I'm a professional reporter, writer, editor, teacher, storyteller. A former travel and features editor for Southern Living, I started Velleity because people keep offering me travel stuff and you may as well benefit from it.

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