May the 4th Be With You: Essential freelancing wisdom from Star Wars characters

Image courtesy of Kaboom Pics

It’s May the Fourth this week. The official Star Wars Day. So in that spirit, for our latest freelancing tips, we thought we’d share some wisdom from some of our favourite Star Wars characters.

Yes, that’s right. We’re calling upon the classic quotes of Yoda, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan and even Darth Vader, to make your business, and your career, more awesome.

"Do – or do not. There is no try." – Yoda

It's undoubtedly Yoda's most memorable quote and one we can all indeed learn from. It's about committing yourself fully to something. You're either in or you're out – what's it to be? There's no in between. No half chances.

If you want to make your business work or become really skilled in a new field, you've got to put your whole self into making it happen. Otherwise, what's the point?

"In my experience, there's no such thing as luck." – Obi-Wan Kenobi

A favourite quote of mine, courtesy of actor Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars, Episode IV – A New Hope. It's about realising that you make your own luck in life. Things don't just happen. What you desire and hope for, it doesn't just magically appear. You have to take action if you want to enjoy success.

Whether you're launching your own business, winning clients or hoping to get donations on Kickstarter for a side project – you, and you alone, are the reason behind your achievements. Luck has nothing to do with it.

"The ability to speak does not make you intelligent." – Qui-Gon Jinn

I like to interpret Qui-Gon Jinn's wise words to mean that you have to listen more than you speak. It's amazing just how much you can learn from not saying anything at all.

Imagine how unnerving it is to meet someone new at a networking event and they hardly say a thing! What will you do? Well, you'll probably uncomfortably mumble your way through the silence with lots of unnecessary rambling? Indeed, that is what happens when you speak more than you listen. And then you're just giving away all your secrets before you've had a chance to discover more about others.

As Mark Twain said, "Better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." In business, it's better to use your mouth less and your ears more.

"Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them." – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Not everything is as it seems – that's the sentiment behind Obi-Wan's famous line. You can't just rely on what you see; you have to use all other instincts to determine people and situations. It's about tuning into your gut feelings to help you make better business decisions.

For instance, if you're meeting someone for the first time, like a potential client, you want to draw on your instincts to explore whether they'll be trustworthy and good to work with. It's incredible what you'll uncover just by observing body language and seeing how you naturally react to others. If something doesn't feel right, it's probably because it isn't.

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." – Yoda

Yoda hit the nail on the head. In business, it's important to let go of fear. No good can come of it. Fear can hold you back. It can stop you following your dreams. It can even prevent you from overcoming challenges or difficulties in all aspects of your life.

Fear leads to anger, bitterness and resentment. And that only leads to suffering. Be a happier creative by confronting your fears head-on and letting go of any anxieties. Yes, it's often tough to tackle the things we'd rather not, but long-term, it'll lift the weight off your shoulders and lead to better things for you and your business.

"Somebody has to save our skins." – Princess Leia

When Princess Leia rescued Luke Skywalker and Han Solo by encouraging them to jump into a garbage shoot, I think – at aged five or six – I pretty much decided then and there that I was never going to need rescuing.

Like Leia, I believe you have to stand on your own two feet. You can't just expect things to magically happen; you have to do something to succeed. What small step can you take today to make that leap into the unknown?

"Who's the more foolish; the fool? Or the fool who follows him?" – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Don't worry about what other people are doing. Whether it's your competition or clients, focus on what you believe is right and follow your own heart and mind. Be open to learning from others and their mistakes. It's amazing what you can avoid if you simply take another well-considered path.

"Your focus determines your reality." – Qui-Gon Jinn

It's quite simple. If you lack focus, you won't achieve your goals. When you're being pulled in lots of different directions, you'll dilute your focus and energy, reducing the chance of success. It's why multitasking never really works; you are far more successful if you simply tackle one job at a time.

Focus is, in fact, the core of Jedi training. The "here and now" is what any Jedi Knight lives by. Focusing will ensure you stay on track and apply all the skills and expertise you have to secure that new client, launch that new product or finish that book.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." – Darth Vader

If you don't believe in yourself or what you're doing, then what's the point? Self-belief is one of the key components of any successful entrepreneur. That's what Darth Vader was getting at when trying to deal with incompetent staff on his Death Star.

Your business can not survive if you don't believe it will. A lack of faith will determine your everyday actions and ultimately lead to failure. It's like being on a snowboard and thinking you'll fall – if you just relax, and let your body naturally flow with the slope, everything will fall into place. Believe in yourself and what you're doing, or you'll only suffer.

"In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way." – Yoda

When we get stuck and can't find a solution, it can feel like we'll never resolve anything. However, there is always hope. We can always turn things around with a plan. That's what Yoda explains to Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith. His wisdom points out that there is always a silver lining, a slither of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. And that with more knowledge, we'll be able to understand more.

If you find yourself in a dark place, take some time out to learn and develop your knowledge. The lightbulb moment will soon occur and you'll be winning in no time.

"You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." – Obi-Wan Kenobi

What does Obi-Wan mean by this wisdom? In a nutshell, if you think your opinion is the only one that matters or the only one that's right, then you're an idiot. Basically. Because the truth is often what we make it – it's from our own perspective. What about what others think?

Open your heart and mind to everyone else's opinions. Don't close yourself to different points of view. Stay cynical, question everything and be prepared to do the same with everyone else. It will ensure you keep learning and improving.

So, if a client is arguing over next steps, try and see where they're coming from. If you're collaborating with another freelancer on a project and you're struggling to understand their own take, let go of your own views a little to open up to other possibilities. Never assume you're always right, have an open mind and question yourself and everything.

"Impossible to see, the future is." – Yoda

If the future isn't ours to see, why waste time and energy worrying about it? The Jedi religion has many similarities with Buddhism – the "power of now" being one of its many sentiments. Yoda tells Luke Skywalker just this – that there's no point in worrying about the future when it hasn't even happened yet!

Enjoy more mindfulness in your own life. Stop worrying about the future and what might go wrong with your business. It's also important to practice letting go of the past; you can't change what's already happened. Be here, right now. Because the present is all we really have.