Creative   |   January 23, 2017

Career Lessons from Star Wars

A 3 minute read by Julie Marateck, Creative Strategist

As a 35-year-old self-proclaimed geek, I grew up watching “Star Wars.” From “A New Hope” to “Rogue One”, the “Star Wars” soap opera odyssey has left both a cultural and personal mark on my life. As a kid, sure, I loved the droids and weird-looking creatures, and the belief that anyone can be a hero (or heroine). I was learning life lessons without even knowing it.

Now that I am older, I love these films even more than ever! Not only because I can continue being a kid-at-heart, but because I am still learning life lessons through these stories.

While watching “Rogue One,” I saw some big lessons that could be applied to worklife. Here are five key takeaways that I hope will enhance your understanding of your company, culture, and colleagues.  

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

1) The End Is Just The Beginning

It is almost a running joke what order the “Star Wars” universe is in, and more specifically, where “Rogue One” fits into the saga. Is it a prequel to the sequels or a sequel to the prequels? Figuring out the order of “Star Wars” is more complicated than filing your taxes.

 

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Much like there’s no straight line to experience “Star Wars”, there is also no linear path for your career to unfold. If you go about viewing your career from a “If this, then that” perspective, you’re bound to be disappointed. There is no clear “beginning” or “end”, and what may seem like an end at the time, may be just be the beginning.

2) Know Your Origin Story

Every company, startup or nonprofit has a unique story about how and why it came into existence. it’s important to understand what your company’s origin story is.

To truly understand where “A New Hope” begins, you have to look at the origin of “Rogue One,”  its people, plot and how it plants the seed for future events. “Rogue One” is basically an entire film set around the opening crawl of 1977’s “A New Hope.” We find out who was inside the rebel spaceships and how they stole the secret plans to eventually abolish the Death Star.

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Had it not been for these unsung heroes, we would have never met Princess Leia, who ultimately plays the most critical role to kickoff “A New Hope.”

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day Slacks and spreadsheets, but underneath the hustle and bustle of the bottom line, there is a story - with real people - who helped you get here.

3) A Cast of Characters

One of the greatest...and most challenging parts of job life is engaging with people whose brains, personalities, and coffee drinking habits differ from yours.

One gift to come from the “Star Wars” universe is that the films teach kids (and adults) that in order to accomplish a goal, you must learn to work with those who are different than you. In the case of “Star Wars,” not only are you working with different people, you’re literally working with creatures from a different planet!

 

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Some of the strongest scenes in “Rogue One” are when Jyn Erso, a fiercely independent soldier, now has to work together with a cocky rebel intelligence officer, a criminal cargo pilot, a sarcastic droid, and a blind spiritual warrior and his mercenary. How’s that for a company holiday party? It’s not always easy to gel with everyone, but conflict with others will make or break your character. This team of unlikely heroes band together on a U-Wing Starship and quickly, albeit not always easily, learn how to work together for a greater cause.

4) It’s A Team Effort

When you’re working with a team of people to attain a goal (or defeat the Galactic Empire), you better get used to the idea that you won’t always get the credit you deserve.

Cassian, Jyn, K-2SO and company don’t let their ego get in the way of their ultimate purpose. In actuality, they are more effective letting each other shine based on their strengths. Everyone wants to be seen as someone important; whether it’s as the “thought leader,” the “toughest worker,” or the “most creative.” You’ll come to realize that your team will shine stronger together when you take yourself out of the spotlight.  

Remember, you’re all on the same ship headed to the same planet, so who cares if someone else gets the credit. In fact, the “Rogue One” crew (spoiler alert) all die at the end of the film, and it’s not for nearly 40-years that we meet them. That’s a long time to wait for your moment in the sun.

Whatever your identity is attached to, let it go. You’ll be one step closer to being a humble yet powerful Jedi.

5) Know Your Purpose, But Have A Plan

Passions and purpose are great, but they’re only daydreams until you have a plan. “Rogue One” is set at a time when the Death Star superweapon is gaining ultimate power. The renegade “Rogue One” crew all unite with the same mission to gain back control and ultimately defeat evil.

So, what’s the crew’s strategy? How will they make this happen? Who will do what?

In the final and most suspenseful act of “Rogue One,” there’s no communication breakdown with the crew. There was no, “Wait, I thought we were going to intimidate Darth Vader with our lightsabers” while another person is asking where the bathroom is. Everyone is clear what their role is, aligned on the strategy, and united with the same goal.

 

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Just as the “Star Wars” story continues to evolve, so does your career. With every hero arc, there are challenges, confusion and chaos. That’s why it’s key to sit back and remember the basics. Trust in yourself and others, and remember that the essence of your career is not where you work or what you do, but how you respond to your calling.

May The Workforce Be With You.