May the 4th be with you! Today is Star Wars Day. If you did not know that then you are in for a treat to learn one more thing as well. There is a lot of wisdom in the words spoken by the two-foot tall little green guy named Yoda and by his student, Luke Skywalker. Here are 8 tips for entrepreneurs I learned from Star Wars:
1. All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
Okay, that was not in Star Wars. It’s a quote from Walt Disney. I remember how content I was year after year (for 15 years) with the success I had during my career working for a big national commercial real estate firm until one day I simply wasn’t content anymore. What changed? Nothing, but all the sudden I was dreaming of doing bigger and more important work in my future. My wife and I thought that starting a new company would open up new doors of opportunity for us and also give us better control over our future, but at that moment it was just a dream. We hadn’t pursued it yet. Before we took that leap of faith and started our company, I can relate to that beautiful scene in the early part of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker is alone and stops to stare longingly out at the distant sunset (2 setting suns on his planet) with a French horn playing a solemn slow version of the Star Wars theme. We know from the scene, even without a word spoken that Luke knows something big is waiting for him out there but he just doesn’t quite know how to get there.
2. With great success, stay humble and still willing to learn from others.
Luke Skywalker’s willingness to be submissive and learn from Yoda is amazing considering what he has recently accomplished. He has confidence, but apparently does not suffer one bit from arrogance. He had just rescued the Princess and then attacked a massive, planet destroying battle station called the Death Star in his little x-wing fighter ship and blew it up saving the entire galaxy. If there was ever anyone that thought their “you know what” don’t stink, it would be this guy! Nope. Luke is humble, open to learning new ways and takes the initiative to go to Yoda to learn from him.
3. Don’t be afraid to start due to uncertainty.
While experience is highly valuable, I believe many entrepreneurs would not even begin if they had a crystal ball and could see all the obstacles, some seemingly insurmountable, that lie ahead of them. Ignorance is bliss as they say. When Luke Skywalker was trying to convince Yoda to train him as a Jedi, he had confidence from having destroyed the Death Star. However, he did not know that what he was asking Yoda to do would put him on a path to have to fight Darth Vader twice, get his hand chopped off, face off with a notorious warlord gangster, Jabba the Hutt, nearly get eaten by a 30 foot tall man-eating monster, almost thrown into another man-eating desert wasteland pit monster and face the evil Emperor that would shoot blue lightning at him to the brink of death. Nope, Luke didn’t know any of that was coming when he confidently looked at Yoda and declared, “I won’t fail you, I’m not afraid.” Yoda perked up and repeated his reply for emphasis, “You will be, you will be!”
4. Return to thank your mentors.
Luke made a return visit to Yoda in the 3rd original movie, Return of the Jedi, for nothing more than as he put it, “I have a promise to keep to an old friend.” Yet, surprise! His old mentor taught him new things again that altered the course of his future. During this follow up visit, he learns that Princess Leia is his sister, confirms that Darth Vader is his father and learns the future of the galaxy is once again in his hands. He had been recently beaten by Darth Vader, nearly killed, and he learns that he must face Vader once again or the evil Emperor will win this struggle in the universe. Perhaps when you return to thank your mentors, the situation won’t be as dramatic, but you’ll be blessed all the same.
5. Discern what to learn and unlearn.
One of my favorite lines from all the Star Wars movies is when Yoda tells Luke, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Yoda was trying to help Luke see past the obstacle that his own experience told him must exist and was keeping him in failure.
Excellent leaders see things that many others simply do not, a characteristic of the Jedi in Star Wars. Entrepreneurs/inventors turn that skill into ideas that can create value. It starts by listening and extracting the right information and ignoring the junk. That is part of discernment. Now, add a little cynicism and pessimism and you have an idea that goes nowhere. It is easy to let this world crush your faith and hopes if you let it. However, if you have proper discernment on what to unlearn, or ignore, you can really experience amazing results. For instance, people that get there heart broken in love can either go on carrying that burden everywhere, being bitter and never love again or they can put the pain behind them and give love another go and experience all the wonder it has to offer. The same can be said of entrepreneurial ideas and business ventures.
6. Nike tells us to “Just Do It” and so does Yoda.
Yoda tells Luke about his “trying” to use the force, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Sometimes you have to believe in something all the way and just do it. Allow your faith to rise above your negative experiences, doubts and cynicism if you truly want to have a stand out victory in your life. How is that faith exercised? By persistence and resolve. Someone once said, “Ambition is the road to success and persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”
7. Failures are just practice that prepare you for great success.
A person has only failed when they give up. Otherwise, the game is still on and everyone loves a comeback. When you hit a bump in the road, don’t get bitter. See it as practice, the training ground for the better opportunities and a greater destiny ahead. Sometimes setbacks are a setup for something better, just like a fruit tree getting pruned. A fruit tree never reaches its full potential without being pruned back at the right times. Then it can really blossom with an abundance of fruit. We are the same but we just don’t like the process of being pruned when it is happening. Of the three original Star Wars movies, just about all diehard fans consider the second movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” to be the best one. In this movie, as the title implies, the rebel base is found by the evil empire and is destroyed, the good side is on the run, and the movie ends with a lot of bad stuff that happens and fans are eager to see the comeback in the next movie “Return of the Jedi.” So, get up when you are knocked down. When you are told to go away because you aren’t good enough, regroup, recoup and return.
8. Use the Force!
Some people don’t believe in God and give his power as much credibility as they do the fictional “force” in Star Wars, but my personal experience has shown me quite the opposite. Jesus is the real “force” in my life that matters more to me than all the success or money the world could ever offer. This final message on Star Wars Day is for the believers out there that place business in one category and their faith in another. Start putting God first in all things, including business! God should be the Lord of your life and business is just one subcategory of your life. That doesn’t mean God is waiting around for you to finally ask him to open up doors that will make you famous, rich or successful. Maybe that is God’s plan for you and maybe it is not. God knows best what you need to fulfill his destiny for you. It may or may not look like what society calls success. However, the life you will lead if you ignore God and pursue your own desires or that which solely the world prescribes will not be nearly as satisfying than it will be when putting God first in your life, and the retirement plan is unbeatable!
Following the Lord invites a real supernatural “force” into your life which may come in the form of a blessing or may come in the form of peace in the storms of life. Trust in God to be your force in business and in your personal life, including dealing with success and defeat. It will give you the confidence that no matter what, God has you in the palm of his powerful hand.
To bring it back to Star Wars, we can all learn from the confidence expressed by Yoda. It didn’t come from self-reliance, arrogance or some egocentric place. His confidence came from his knowledge of the force. When Luke failed to raise his ship from being stuck in the swamp and he discouragingly tells Yoda he can’t do it because the ship is too big, Yoda encourages Luke by saying, “Size matters not. Look at me! Judge me by my size do you? And where you should not! For my ally is the force and a powerful ally it is.” He continues but Luke walks away sulking after saying, “You want the impossible.” Then Yoda uses the force to do the “impossible” and Luke looks on in disbelief as the ship lifts out of the swamp over to dry land. He says to Yoda, “I don’t believe it” to which Yoda calmly replies, “And that is why you fail.” That concept matches the biblical teaching of experiencing God’s hand in one’s life. First, what is required by God is believing in him, then acting on that faith in order to see God become a powerful force on your behalf.
Do you have the “force” in your life that enables you to do the impossible? How appropriate that in the Gospel of Luke in chapter 1 verse 37, it says, “For nothing is impossible with God.” In Star Wars the force is fiction, but in real life, I can most assuredly report that God is real. He is the true force, so “May the force be with you!”
By: Brian Rossi
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