What Entrepreneurs and Creatives Can Learn From the Jedi

For all the hate the Star Wars prequel films get, they also give us a deeper look into the philosophy of the Jedi. As usual, the best lines (as usual) come from Jedi Master Yoda.

Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker goes to Yoda for advice in The Revenge of the Sith when he begins to have visions of the death of a loved one:

Yoda: “Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin! The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.”

Anakin: “I won’t let my visions come true, Master Yoda.”

Yoda: “Rejoice for those around us who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy, the shadow of greed, that is.”

Anakin: “What must I do, Master Yoda?”

Yoda: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

There’s wisdom here for laser-sword-wielding galaxy knights (though it often tends to lead to stupid prohibitions on having healthy romantic relationships, but I digress.) But there’s also something here for entrepreneurs and creatives like us, or really for anyone working on a high-impact, long-term creative project.

Rejoice for those around us who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy, the shadow of greed, that is.

This is the approach we have to take to our projects. Sometimes in order for our projects to succeed, they have to change in form so radically that they practically die. We must give up our attachments to how they are.

Maybe we change our strategies. Maybe we shift directions. Maybe we start over. Maybe we hand over our work to someone more qualified. Examples abound in creative work:

  • Pivoting a startup to focus on a new application of your software
  • Scrapping a first draft to rewrite a new poem/screenplay/book
  • Embracing a new technology right after mastering an old technology
  • Firing old (but unprofitable) customers or employees to focus on more beneficial relationships

These are hard things to do. They involve a major letting go. But sometimes that letting go is absolutely necessary if our work is going to flourish. And that flourishing is not going to happen unless we can learn to let go of attachments and deal with change gracefully.

We can do that, but like the Jedi, we have to train ourselves to let go of what we fear to lose. And if our goal is big enough and life-affirming enough, nothing – not our egos, our funding, our best-laid plans, or reputations – should keep us attached to what needs to die.

The Jedi have a galaxy to protect. What’s your goal?

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at jameswalpole.com.

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