May the Force be with You ­ Classic Storytelling Archetypes in Business (as it relates to Star Wars)

The world of business, and the operation of said business, comes with inherent traits and characteristics that border on the archetypal, that can also be clearly defined by neuroscience. By identifying those archetypes, you should be able to find a balance that will serve your business positively in the long run.

Don’t believe me? Let me point you towards two extremely well­known and irrefutable sources of proof:

1) Science
2) Star Wars

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True, this article may be nothing more than a shameless tie-­in to a popular movie franchise predicted to have one of the biggest movie openings in cinematic history. Or you could be reading about a scientifically-­backed theory that will benefit you and your business in the long run. Read on, young padawan . . .

Scholars like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell have stated that these archetypes represent functions in the human psyche. There are two main archetypes that are actually completely opposing forces that, when brought into balance, can lead to success in business, team-building, and leadership.

DUELING ARCHETYPES ­ GOOD vs. EVIL

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Archetype #1: THE HERO ­ Luke Skywalker -­ a young jedi master learning the ways of the Force, representing reason, rationality, and order.

Archetype #2: THE VILLAIN ­ Darth Vader ­- Luke’s dad and the big bad of the Dark Side of the Force, representing irrationality and chaos.

In terms of neuroscience, Luke is the conscious mind and Vader is the unconscious mind.

While Luke is associated purely with the prefrontal cortex (the ‘thinking’ part of your brain), Vader is firmly grounded within the limbic system (the ‘emotional’ side of your brain). Now it makes sense as to why Darth Vader was so obsessed with ‘hatred’ all of the time.

When you’re trying to figure out what time is the best time to go and see The Force Awakens, that’s Luke who is driving you. When you get chills while watching the movie, that’s Darth Vader tickling your spine. Both archetypes are hardwired into every single person.

That’s right. We’re all the hero AND the villain of our own story.

IT’S ALL PART OF THE FORCE

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While these principles appear to be completely opposing, they’re actually thoroughly interconnected to the point where one doesn’t fully function without the other. Friedrich Nietzsche, a prominent 19th century philosopher stated that all great tragedy and drama are rooted in the tension produced by the interplay of these two interconnected principles.

Luke Skywalker is our default mindset. We want to do good. Chief Executive Officers find themselves channeling the positive side of the Force on a regular basis. They focus on the measurable and operate within certain parameters to get the job done and create that next all-important sale.

However, it’s when you introduce a bit of the Dark Side of the Force that you start to see some real results. Darth Vader introduces a more relational mindset (despite the Force­-choking) towards customers. Individuals embracing the Dark Side find better ways to serve customers, clients, and employees, and focus more heavily on long­-term sustainability.

While well-­known businesses like Google, Amazon, Netflix, and IKEA are well­-grounded in the principles of Luke Skywalker, it’s their dealings with Lord Vader and their faith in the Dark Side that make them thrive.

LONG AND SHORT - EMBRACE THE DARK SIDE

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Psychologist, author, and science journalist, Daniel Goleman, tells us that corporate leaders that outperform others are more self­aware (Luke) while also being far more empathic (Vader). Successful leaders build on a solid foundation of grounded results while introducing and embracing their emotional side which also factors into innovation and risk-­taking. It’s these individuals that create a thriving work culture, inspire through leadership and vision, and place focus on building relationships with clients and customers.

While everyone likes to be the good guy, let’s face it, Luke is a bit of a whiner for most of the first Star Wars movie. The opportunity for today’s leaders is more readily available by incorporating and embracing the teachings of Darth Vader and the Dark Side. No, we’re not saying you need to go blow up a planet or build a big space station with the intentions of eventually ruling the galaxy. You don’t even need to dress in black or develop a breathing problem.

You just need to find the right balance for you so you can be the best possible leader for your company. Now go forth, and conquer the galaxy (or, at least, your small part of the galaxy).