Star Wars has taught us many things. Don’t trust jetpacks. Princesses have incredible aim and mopey teenagers are the most evil creatures in the galaxy. But there are lessons we can extract from George Lucas’ space epic that have real world applications.
Today, we are going to explore what Star Wars can teach us about the virtues of productivity. It may sound ridiculous, but there are clear examples of how Star Wars can increase productivity in the 6, soon to be 9, movies.
See Also: Valuable Career Lessons From Star Wars
1. The Force - Everything worth doing requires concentration and dedication
We’ll start with the unifying thread that runs through all of Star Wars - the mythical Force. A vague ideology which can be likened to the beliefs of karma and chi, the Force allows its users to move things with their minds, see into the future and anticipate all manner of things. Jedi and Sith are the all powerful figures of the saga because of their mastery of this mythical belief.
The Force teaches us that anything worth doing will involve concentration and dedication. When you set out on a task, the only way you are going to be able to do it to the best of your abilities is with focus. Luke was able to make the pebbles move when he was half concentrating, so he got part of the job done, but Yoda moved the X-Wing out of the swamp because he poured himself fully into the task at hand.
2. The Jedi - Hard work allows you to do more enjoyable things
Jedi can offhandedly be described as “space monks”. They are a religious order first and foremost, who believe in democracy and diplomacy above violence. They spend almost their entire lives dedicated to their cause, but this training allows them to do many great things.
What can we extract from that? That when your hard work is over, and you have maximised your productivity, it will allow you the opportunity to enjoy more things. Yes, the Jedi work very hard, but then they get to use lightsabers, fly spaceships, and use the Force! Their hard work rewards them.
3. The Empire - Teamwork can solve anything
Yep, even the bad guys can teach us things. The Empire were evil, undeniably, but look what they achieved through teamwork. They governed over an entire galaxy. They built the Death Star. And then, they built it again!
The Rebels also show us the virtues of teamwork, and how it can make light work of big tasks. Even though they were outmatched in every way by the Empire, they managed to overcome the odds thanks to their ability to work together smartly.
4. Qui-Gon Jinn - Believe in what you are doing, and don’t rest until it is done
It isn’t just the big organisations that can teach us lessons - individuals can too. We’ll start with a fundamental one that works in real life but falls apart in the context of the movie. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon encounters Anakin, who he believes is prophesied to bring balance to the Force. The Jedi Council disagrees, but Qui-Gon believes he is right.
This is a good parable about believing that what you are doing is right. If your way of being productive works for you, it doesn’t matter if other people disagree. Even if they think the methods you employ, or the apps you use aren’t the best way of doing things, it is more important that you stick to your guns and achieve your goal your way. Qui-Gon was right in the long term! You just have to look past one or two atrocities that Anakin made on the journey there. . .
5. Jar Jar Binks - If something doesn’t work, phase it out
Just so we can pass over The Phantom Menace quickly, here is an easy one. You may be told by others to do things a certain way because they believe it is the best way to do things. But if it becomes apparent that their idea doesn’t work and drags down your work rate, discard the idea quickly. George Lucas got that message. Jar Jar was a major protagonist in The Phantom Menace, yet he only spoke two words in Revenge of the Sith. A lesson learned.
6. R2-D2 - The productive will always have a job
“Hard work pays off” is a well-worn cliché. And while it isn’t true 100% of the time, being a productive worker will always bring benefits over being a lazy or ineffective one. Look at R2-D2. He is just a run of the mill Astro Droid, similar to millions of droids scattered across the galaxy. But there is no one better at their job than R2, and his productive output (he saves someone’s life in every movie) means that he is an integral part of the team, and is kept around for years longer than another droid would have been.
Yes, even the hardest working people can find themselves out of a job at some point. But productivity can translate out of the workspace too, and be put towards finding a new job. Likewise, being unproductive is never going to benefit you.
7. Darth Sidious - Planning, both short and long term, can achieve great things
Darth Sidious, Emperor Palpatine, the Emperor - whatever you want to call him, he wasn’t a nice person. So how can the root of all evil help us in our day to day lives? Well, he did achieve a lot of things. He didn’t coast his way to being supreme ruler of the galactic empire, did he? No, he utilised a lot of plans to get to the top, and you can too.
Planning things out helps a lot with productivity. A day to day planner, be it in your head, written down or online, can help compartmentalise problems. These short term goals can then be accomplished in the name of achieving potential long-term goals. Palpatine became Emperor of the galaxy and built the Death Star, and likewise, you can achieve a promotion.
8. Yoda - Patience - come, productivity will
The Emperor also exercised great patience in his ascent to the top. He slowly worked his way up the political ladder, gained an army in the process, and then turned things to his advantage. Patience is a great virtue in all walks of life, but particularly in productivity. Don’t rush anything that doesn’t need to be rushed - you are only leaving yourself open to worry, stress and mistakes.
Yoda is a calming oasis of patience. He knew that Luke would come good in the end, so he trained him as patiently as he could. He was also shown to be the teacher of all young Jedi at the Jedi Temple, and anyone who has tried to teach a 10 year old anything knows how much patience is needed. If you can exercise it, patience will pay off in the long term.
9. Luke Skywalker - Remember past lessons, and use them wisely
Another key aspect of productivity is learning from past mistakes, and utilising the lessons contained within wisely. Nowhere is this better reflected than in Luke’s two duels with Darth Vader. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is no match for the superior Darth Vader. He is too angry, and too inexperienced, and is therefore soundly beaten, barely escaping with his life and minus a hand.
But when the rematch rolls around in Return of the Jedi, Luke has mastered the Jedi arts. He took his mistakes, and learned from them, overcoming Vader the second time. If you have a disastrous spell of productivity, figure out what went wrong, and implement the right changes to improve.
10. Ewoks - No challenge is insurmountable if you work within your strengths
The final lesson to be gleaned from Star Wars is that of the Ewoks overcoming the occupying Empire forces on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi. The Ewoks are tiny teddy bears, who in a one on one fight with a stormtrooper wouldn’t likely last a second. So how did they overcome this seemingly impossible task? By doing things on their terms.
They used their strengths, namely their homeland, to crush the much more advanced enemy. You too can do this. When handed a major task, don’t worry about it being too big, or ponder on how much work will be needed to get it done. Instead, figure out how you can use your strengths to attack the matter at hand. Use all you know about how you work best, and focus on using that knowledge to achieve your goal.
And you thought it was just a bunch of movies about space! Star Wars is a great and iconic series for many reasons, not least because of all the different layers that comprise it. Yes, we have dived a little deeper than George Lucas may have ever intended, but the lessons hold up - if productivity can build Death Stars, it can certainly help plan your Tuesday morning sales meeting.
Do you think any of this is relevant? Your thoughts and comments below please...