Top 5 Jedi Mind Tricks to Better your Career

Lawrence and I finally watched the new Star Wars flick a few weeks ago. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of Star Wars, there are 9+ movies (some scheduled to open in the next couple years. If you raised in North America like me, you probably grew up with Star Wars. I remember countless recesses running out the schoolyard calling dibs on being Princess Leia at the top of my lungs. Then wanting to marry Luke when I grow up. (That was before I realized they were siblings.) If you didn’t grow up in North America, though you might not be as familiar with the story of Star Wars. Here is a clip that links all the movies, prior to The Force Awakens. In my opinion, it synopsizes the entire saga very well. (HUGE spoiler alerts!!)

Now that you are somewhat familiar with what I’m about to share, we need to first establish a couple  foundational concepts synonymous with all things Star Wars.

 

The Force, and Using the Force

Let’s first establish The Force. In the Star Wars universe, there is a unifying energy field that connects all beings in the galaxy. Certain members of the galaxy can interpret this energy field, harness it, and use it to their advantage.

 

Photo Credit: http://www.disneylandparis.com/en-us/entertainment/disneyland-park/star-wars-jedi-training-academy/

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.
Jedi MasterYoda

 

Using the Force, certain enlightened members of the galaxy can bend others to their will, see the future, or move physical objects with their telepathically, to give but a few examples. Some can even remain in communication with the living after the death of their own bodies. All of these, except for communicating with the living after being dead, seemed rather useful to me. I got to thinking if any of these were for real. Could we use these Jedi teachings to add to our lives? Could they help us further our careers, and make us better leaders altogether?

Turns out, there is a method to the madness. I’m happy to report that there are various Jedi mind tricks and philosophies that mere muggles (wait, wrong franchise) such as you and me can tap our own Jedi mastery. We can use these to better our daily lives. More importantly, the community at large can benefit from our Jedi goodwill. Before we discuss the Jedi concepts themselves, a few elementary ideas need to be set.

 

Rules of Engagement

It is said that Jedi mind tricks can only be used on the weak minded. I think, though, like hypnosis, if you’re not willing to be hypnotized,  you can’t be, irrespective of your mind strength. For a Jedi mind trick to work, there has to be an elementary level of trust between you and whomever you’re interacting. If there is no relationship, not even just a little one, there is no engagement. Hence, the Jedi mind trick isn’t going to work. So at the very least, you have to engage in conversation. You can’t just walk into a room, with a bunch of strangers, wave a magic wand and have everyone bend to your will. This is, after all, Star Wars, not Harry Potter.

 

1. The Power of Suggestion

In all of the articles that I found in my research about Jedi mind tricks, the first was always in reference to the infamous ‘These Aren’t the Droids You’re looking for.” In The New Hope, Luke, Obi-Wan, R2, and C3PO were traveling through Mos Eisley. It was heavily patrolled by stormtroopers, looking for them. Searching vehicle after vehicle, the stormtroopers stopped every single speeder looking for the group. When it’s their turn to be searched, Obi-Wan looks at the guy, simply suggests to the stormtrooper that ‘these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ The stormtrooper obediently repeats the phrase and lets them go.

Fast forward to “The Force Awakens.” Rey is captured, bound, and guarded by stormtroopers. Only recently discovering that she has access to the Force, she decides to try out the mind manipulation technique simply by suggesting to the storm trooper that he should let her go.

Pretty handy to know, wouldn’t you agree? In our world, this, I learned, is known as “response expectancies.” This originated from Irving Kirsch, who came up with with the response expectancy theory: People’s experience of a situation is in part based on what they expect to experience.”

Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius

For example, say you’re looking to buy a car. After months of research, if you’re like me, you finally settle upon the Prius. Reliable, hybrid, that is extremely fuel efficient, comfortable, and roomy. You make the purchase. As soon as you hit the road in your new Prius, you suddenly notice how everyone and their dog happens to drive a Prius. They’re all over the street.

The opposite can also happen. In the case of the storm trooper, he’d likely been looking for droids all day. It’s hot, dusty, and uncomfortable under his armour. He’s inspected vehicle after vehicle, and not found anything remotely close to what he was looking for. Why would this one be any different? See, he’s already expecting NOT to find Luke and his gang. Then they pull up, and Obi-Wan, with the help of the Force, simply confirms what he’s already been expecting. “They’re not the droids you’re looking for.” Done. Next.

Legend has it that in Berlin, there used to be a cyclist who would ride a bike with a bag of sand across the wall separating East and West Germany. 3A905F6997-minEvery day he traveled across the border patrol with a bag of sand. Every time he got searched, the guards would cut open his bag of sand. The would never find anything other than sand and let him through every single time. He did this day in, day out. What the guards didn’t realize, though, is that he though he was transporting sand, he was actually smuggling bicycles.

 

How to Apply this to the Office

So let’s apply this concept to the conference room. Say you’re in the middle of a presentation. You’re going through slide after slide. Your audience’s attention is already captured. They are present and already expecting to learn the information that you are presenting to them. Use the Power of Suggestion and simply tell them what they need to know. Tell them what they need to take from your presentation. Reiterate the important points. I would also recommend doing this multiple times throughout the presentation. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about teaching fitness to adults over the last 15 years, it’s that grown-ups learn with repetition. Grown-ups learn with repetition. You repeat something several times, and grown-ups will learn it. Got it?

 

 

 2. Pass on What you have Learned

Photo Credit: http://www.starwars.com/databank/yoda

One of Yoda’s parting words to tell Luke were to ‘pass on what you have learned.’ Successful, dynamic consultants embrace this philosophy. When on a project, there’s always an end goal in mind: Always work yourself out of the job. Dynamic professionals who are interested in having a career that takes them places, embrace this very philosophy in all that they do. We know that information is power, but hoarding information traps you in the same position, in the same job forever. Chances are if you want to move ahead in your career, staying in the same position is the last thing you want. Passing on what you have learned can be in the form of a transfer of knowledge document, user or system documentation. It can be hosting sessions to train the trainer, or cross-train other functional teams. It can be taking a junior person under your wing and mentorship relationship.  People, clients especially, love it when you share your expertise. Ironically, it is when you share your intell, when you pass on what you have learned, that truly makes you an invaluable player. This ensures your longevity and even repeat business from your clients.

 

 

3. “You will know the good from the bad when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was bullying. As I said, knowledge is power. When you have a lot of it, people respect you. People treat you differently, like a guru because they know you have the answers. In that regard, it’s easy for you, or anyone else for that matter, to antagonize someone who doesn’t know as much…. but you gotta stay professional.

Photo Credit: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-bully.htm

Bullying in the office. It’s not as conspicuous as you think but definitely happens. You can call it office politics. I call it bullying. And you don’t have to be a beefy brute to be one.
The other day, I was in a meeting with my peers, and there was a guy who is not particularly popular in the office. And by not particularly popular, I mean downright infuriating. Time and time again, people, though they try to hide it, a knowing glance is shared at how tedious this guy is when he tries to explain something. He would frequently dig up something for seemingly no reason, circulate it around, including the senior management, and raise a ‘red flag’ about system configuration of which he was never a part, and therefore doesn’t understand its background, design, and intent. He is well known for this. My client has done a great job in fostering a positive corporate environment, where everyone gets heard and is an equal opportunity employer, etc. But I found myself getting frustrated that he would publicize to the world that we missed something significant in the project and that he caught it. Unknowingly, I started to antagonize him. Then my team members, also feeling the pain and frustration, joined in the conversation rebutting what his theories. The three of us ended up essentially ganging up on him. If you were in the meeting, you can likely appreciate that we were super irritated. Guess what? This is bullying. We stopped listening mentally. Communication was down. Every subsequent word that came out of his mouth we dismissed with inner-ridicule. Now.. I’m still not saying he was right. In fact, he was definitely in the wrong. But to gang up on someone in a meeting is synonymous to a bunch of beefy 9-year-olds in the playground taking a little boy’s car, and crushing it for no reason, but to intimidate.

 

Use the Force for Knowledge, Never for Attack

That was definitely one of my weaker moments. What would have happened if we were to, as per Yoda, remain at peace? We might have kept an open ear, heard the root of his concern, and turn the table and ask him questions to prove his theory. Instead, we were defensive. Closed. As my co-worker suggested, ‘instead of forcing us to prove our design and configuration, give him the opportunity to do the legwork in proving that the design is wrong. Who knows? Maybe he was able to uncover something that the entire project missed. Unlikely. But at least together we would have explored the path in a quest for knowledge instead of attack.

 

4.  Keep your concentration here and now where it belongs.

“Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future”

“But not at the expense of the moment.”

Be present. It’s the gift of now that you have. That’s why it’s called the ‘present.’ I met a friend today. Charlene. Wise beyond her years, we had a delicious conversation about the universe and the journey to reaching our goals. One of the salient points that she bestowed on me was to enjoy the journey. Sure it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. But when you go on a roller-coaster, you do it for the thrill of the ride, not the end of it. Every single little step is there for you get you to you what you ultimately want to achieve. Think of how this can translate to your life. Say you’re currently an employee, and one of your career goals is to become a self-employed consultant. In one of my previous posts “How to Achieve the Crap out of your Goals,Outlook Mountain

I illustrated that there are milestone goals and execution goals. In this case, the milestone goal is obviously to become a self-employed consultant. But the execution goals might include paying your dues as a junior or intermediate systems analyst on capital projects in order to gain that experience to eventually be paid a premium for your knowledge and consult. It would not serve you, though, to experience the daily failure of not having achieved the goal of self-employment though. The fabric of life is woven in the ordinary, minuscule moments that you put in day after day, project after project, document after document. Not one of these moments is wasteful. Every single step is designed to eventually get you to your goal. So as Charlene said, “Move forward, but enjoy the journey. It’s all you have.” Who knows when your life is complete? No one does. Bask in the now, with a plan for the future.

 

5. Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

An organization’s direction is always in motion. Changes in business direction, changes in leadership. Things that worked before may not work again. Organizations progress. Hence the root organic. What you need to do is to stay with the times. The worst thin you can do is cling to the past. Many organizations build in personal development as achievement goals a part of their career development. This is one way in which many companies take care of their employees. A smart professional, though, whether an employee or self-employed, will constantly seek to continue learning.

There are two facets: embracing the continual process of life-long learning, and also remaining in tune with the organic movement of the organization. How you think an organization operates is always a function of what happens in the market and business world. This drives the direction of the company.

At a micro level, especially in Info Tech, technology evolves super quickly. The success of an IT professional will depend on how much he is on top of the leading edge of technology in his field. Paradoxically, there are simultaneous age-old truths in how humans and organizations work together, how people interact with each other, and the mindset that drives people forward. A true professional will understand how people work in addition to technology. Steven Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People explored that the 7th habit is to always sharpen the saw. If you wanted a quick summary of the 7 Habits, here they are:

 

There are so many ways that you can sharpen the saw: online courses, instructor-led courses, volunteering, reading blog posts and articles, attending seminars, conferences. Reach out to your network. Learn a new skill that you’ve always been curious about. Volunteer for an organization that is aligned with your values. This is one is the reasons why I created the Resources page. Though ITSolopreneurs just launched recently, the Resources page is one that is most visited, and for good reason. It’s not a secret that to be a great professional, regardless your field, you need to commit to continually sharpen the saw. I invite you to check it out. Peruse the collection of tools, courses, and  books that have helped me in my journey as a self-employed IT consultant. Reach out to me, and tell me how I can support you in the journey to your success.

 

May the Force be with you.

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