It begins. Again. One of the most epic stories of our time continues, as we honor the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
My heart is already palpitating as I sing the theme and write this blog with sweaty palms... but what is it that draws so many to this story, including myself?
The answer may come from Joseph Campbell. A scholar, lecturer and philosopher whose most famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), has been cited as one of George Lucas’ biggest influences in creating Star Wars.
Campbell once said, “Artists are magical helpers. Evoking symbols and motifs that connect us to our deeper selves, they can help us along the heroic journey of our own lives.”
The Star Wars saga is the Odyssey or Mahabharata of our time - the timeless and universal myth of the hero. And although we gather around giant IMAX screens and get shaken in our 4D seats instead of gathering around a campfire, we are drawn to the tale’s lessons about life and the nature of the universe all the same... Perhaps searching for some help on our own heroic journeys.
And even though the archetypes may be familiar, there are few characters that define ‘the mentor’ better than Yoda. His one-liners are a treasure trove of wisdom that have something to teach not only young Padawan learners, but even the wisest and most experienced Jedis.
So to help you on your own heroic journey of starting a business, we draw inspiration from Lucas’ most magical of helpers. Here are seven topics of startup wisdom from Yoda.
1. On Fear
This is one of the best Yoda quotes echoed in many philosophies around the world. This quote teaches us about non-attachment. Working at a startup or starting a business can be a frightening experience, especially if you don’t have much capital investment behind you. But the less you are attached to, and the more you can let go of your fear, the easier you will find undertaking this venture and the road ahead.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
“When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.”
2. On Trying
The first line is one of the most famous Yoda quotes that has spawned its own spinoff quotes and memes across the internet. Believe in what you’re doing and just do. This is business. This is hustling.
Luke: "I can’t believe it."
Yoda: "That is why you fail.”
3. On Learning
In the age of information we are almost over-informed. There is a book on everything but what we often need most, is our own intuition and inner guru. You know that book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” - it’s kind of like, ‘Everything I Need to Know to Run a Business I Learned in Life.’ Don’t know how to use intuition in business? Here’s an interesting article from Forbes about how to use intuition in business.
“You will find only what you bring in.”
“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”
“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”
“Always pass on what you have learned.”
“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”
4. On Patience, Focus and Clarity
If there is one thing Star Wars teaches, it’s about being calm under pressure. I think negative emotions leading to the dark side must be one of the most oft repeated themes in the movie.
As a manager or business leader in a startup, staying calm when you are up a certain creek with no paddle, can mean the difference between failure and success. Your employees and colleagues are watching your behavior as a kind of barometer for how much they should be freaking out. Keep the boat from rocking, by keeping your emotions in check.
“PATIENCE YOU MUST HAVE my young padawan”
“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph.”
5. On Judging
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes.”
AKA, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or better yet, don’t underestimate your own capability. This theme is repeated in other myths like David and Goliath from the Bible.
You may be the little green man who is smaller and weirder than everyone else, but if you get in touch with ‘The Force’ (for non-hippies, your inner strength and determination) you are unstoppable. Some of the largest and most successful companies in the world started as underdogs.
If you need some motivation, just watch Yoda’s most epic fights and psyche yourself up for success!
“Mudhole? Slimy? My home this is! “
6. On Power and Conflict
Debate is healthy in a startup environment, especially if you are trying to create something innovative. But when debate turns to conflict, this can be a destructive force within your company.
As Yoda says, sometimes answering power with power is not the answer, and allowing ego to dominate the conversation can derail projects and get the whole team off track. Remember what your goal is and what your team is trying to accomplish and redirect the conversation back to how you can compromise and come up with the best solutions, together.
“Ohhh. Great warrior.Wars not make one great.”
“The dark side clouds everything.”
7. On When to Quit
Some of the best entrepreneurs are the best because they know when to give up. Some ideas or products just can’t be brought to life. Perhaps it’s timing, perhaps it’s luck or perhaps, like Yoda says, you just need to try a new game or market.
So how do you know when is a good time to give up on your startup? Here are some really great answers on crowdsourcing site Quora.
“Decide you must, how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could; but you would destroy all for which they have fought, and suffered.”
They say ‘history repeats itself’ and the same is true for myths and stories. There is much to learn from timeless epics like Star Wars, and we are hoping the newest rendition, The Force Awakens, will offer some wisdom for our collective journeys.
Good luck on your own heroic journey and…