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What Star Wars teaches us about career management

Thomas Wailgum | Oct. 29, 2009
It's been really difficult using the Force to convince your HR manager or boss to see things your way.

Real-World Lesson: Even if you look like Princess Leia (circa 1980s!), don't wear a bikini (or any revealing garb, for that matter) to poolside corporate events-real-life Jabbas will be watching.

"It's very dangerous putting them together. I don't think the boy can handle it." -Mace Windu

File Under: Human Capital Management; Succession Planning

Star Wars Moment: The Jedi Counsel assigns an impressionable and unstable Anakin Skywalker, who is supposed to bring balance to the Force, peace to the galaxy, etc., to serve as the "personal representative" for Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to the Jedi Council. Never mind that Palpatine makes most Jedi Knights uneasy and fear for the future of the Galactic Republic.

Real-World Lesson: Not the wisest idea to allow the "chosen one" and the best hope for the future of your company to be mentored or influenced by an individual you don't fully trust.

"You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." -Obi-Wan Kenobi

File Under: Retirement Strategies; Succession Planning

Star Wars Moment: And aged Obi-Wan Kenobi allows himself to be struck down by his former apprentice Darth Vader, who chastises Kenobi: "Your powers are weak, old man."

Real-World Lesson: Sometimes "more seasoned" and "longer tenured" employees will be asked to "take one for the team." How graceful will your exit be?

"Commander, tear this ship apart until you've found those plans!" -Darth Vader

File Under: Project Management; Risk Management

Star Wars Moment: Rebels are able to acquire a secret set plans to the Empire's Death Star, and eventually exploit a weakness and destroy the moon-size battle station.

Real-World Lesson: If you've got to nail "The Big Project," think carefully about the worst, most gaping vulnerability in the project. And don't, under any circumstances, allow that vulnerability to leak out onto, say, the Internet.

"But beware of the Dark Side. Anger, fear, aggression-the Dark Side of the Force are they." -Yoda

File Under: Training and Development; Networking

Star Wars Moment: Yoda sagely instructs Luke Skywalker during his training on Dagobah, with guidance such as: "Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say.... You must unlearn what you have learned." Skywalker says that he'll try. "No!" says Yoda. "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."

Real-World Lesson: There's a wealth of value for you in listening to the wisdom of another, older employee's experiences-especially if that colleague has been mentoring others for 800 years. (Yoda wisdom for future Madoffs: "If once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny.")

"It's not fair." -Han Solo

File Under: Skills Development


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