I’ve mentioned in several posts, including my recent Lessons from Who-ville that the 2016 Presidential election turned out the way it did due to the power given to one ticket by all the attention and energy; both positive & negative.
Now we are looking at T-20 days of what many are predicting to be a turning point in American history and there’s no sign that the staring and pointing at the potential train wrecks are diminishing. If anything, it is ramping up for 4 years of shock & awful, but that will not turn out well for any of us. Deep down, we know that it’s time to apply the brakes and turn this runaway negativity around.
In May of 2016 I was invited to speak at a conference about developing a leadership perspective. The crux of my talk was that as leaders, our employees show up for us as we expect them to, and I challenged the group to think hard about how they think, feel and speak concerning their employees. In addition to vetted research, I used 1 well-known example from popular culture to make my point.
In Return of the Jedi, there is a scene where Luke has left his friends on the Endor moon and surrendered himself to Darth Vader. This of course takes place after Vader had cut off Luke’s hand and revealed his true identity – that he is his father – in the previous movie (The Empire Strikes Back).
In the interaction immediately after his surrender, Vader tells Luke that the Emperor is his master now, and will complete his training. When Luke calmly disagrees and the conversation progresses, Luke calls out the good he can feel residing deep within his father, and the conflict it creates for him. He calls out his given name, Anakin Skywalker; reminding Vader that it is the name of his true self and then Luke says:
” I know there is good in you…”
If, like me, you’re a Star Wars fan; you know what happens next. Luke refuses to renounce his Jedi ways and join the Dark Side, and after some verbal back and forth and then some great light saber action, Luke refuses to kill his father and again calls forth the good in him. The Emperor responds by saying, “if you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!” and proceeds to attack him.
You can see and feel the conflict in Vader as he watches his son – child of the woman he once loved so very much – being attacked in front of him. Just when you think that this is going to end badly for the young hero, his word demonstrates. The good he called forth by naming it in his father expresses in an instant and Darth Vader grabs the evils Emperor and throws him to his death.
When coaching managers and leaders, I remind them of the power of calling out the behavior they want to see in people; the power of channeling their inner Jedi to call forth the good. If Darth Vader had good hiding beneath all that dark negativity, even the most intransigent employee has some in there somewhere!
And so it is with this current political situation that we in the United States find ourselves in. I know that the incoming President-elect has ignited a lot of fear, and stoked anger in dangerous places, but I also know (and so do you) that pointing and gasping at the negative is not the answer.
Our nation needs us; the world needs us to turn our eyes, our hearts, our words and our thoughts to seeking and seeing the good that is in the incoming administration – no matter how hard that may seem at times. While I am not suggesting that we look the other way when injustice occurs, we must discipline ourselves to look for the good, to seek out the positives and to give our ATTENTION to the good – no matter how small.
Power and energy flow in the direction toward which we put our attention. We absolutely can coax the good out of this administration; we can demonstrate positive outcomes in the next 4 years, but it’s not going to happen if all we do is wail, gnash our teeth, sing “ain’t it awful” and point at the spectacle.
We must channel our Jedi tendencies. We have the opportunity to lead in thought, word and deed in a way that can demonstrate good for our nation and the world and it’s time to start, right here and right now.
Join me in committing to seeking out the good; to calling it forth in the Darth Vaders we may see on TV, in the news and in Washington, D.C.
We are on the cusp of a new day in this nation. It’s time to take the principle of energy and attention that backfired in the election and put it to work for what may be the most important task that we’ve faced in many years.
And so with respect and love for all that she brought to the Star Wars saga and the world, I leave you with the words of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in “A New Hope”
“Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi – you’re my only hope”
Join me and others of like thinking in a commitment to reversing the momentum of the past year by shifting the focus from the spectacle of what’s wrong to calling out the good that exists. Like Darth Vader, it may be buried deep and hard to see – but it’s there, and working together, we can call it forth for the benefit of us all.