Why Darth Vader Needed Coaching

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“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral,” said Darth Vader, a Sith Lord, after finding out Admiral Ozzle had ordered the star fleet they were traveling in to come out of light speed too close to the Hoth planet, where the rebels were hiding. Such an act of imprudence alerted the insurgents of the Imperial presence, which allowed many of them to escape. Immediately after, Darth Vader strangled the Admiral by use of the dark side of the Force. As we can see, Lord Vader had no tolerance for failure, making his subjects pay for it at the highest price.

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Later, regarding the delays in the construction of the new Death Star, Darth Vader warned another of his top military commanders that his Master, Emperor Palpatine, “is not as forgiving” as he is. With this, Lord Vader made it very clear that the abuse of power was even more ruthless at the top of the pyramid, even in a galaxy far, far away.

On the other side of the story lies the Rebel Alliance, which, under the leadership of Princess Leia, had the mission to overthrow the Emperor and restore democracy and the Republic. The Jedi knights, hidden in exile, supported the Rebel Alliance by use of the light side of the Force, the very same Force used by Lord Vader to strangle Admiral Ozzle—only Jedis used it in a different way. As explained by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to young apprentice Luke Skywalker, “the Force is an energy field generated by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”

Star Wars in Real Life

I was always very curious about how Siths and Jedis could use the very same Force in such entirely different ways. After scrutinizing the Star Wars universe, however, it becomes evident that the Force is just a metaphor for basic human psychology. Siths exploit people’s fear, anger, and hatred in order to distort their search for vindication into a never-ending hunger for control and revenge. Jedis, on the contrary, use people’s courage, prudence, and compassion to help them become wise, resilient, and brave. In fact, the essence of the Star Wars saga can be found in any human organization, where the basic forces of human behavior interact on a daily basis, creating a complex environment in which some people follow the “dark side” and others follow the “light side.”

In fact, alongside the storyline of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader, there is an even more important narrative. Such a narrative is that of the Old Republic being overthrown from within its own Senate to give way to the Galactic Empire. Senator Palpatine manufactured an unnecessary war against an illusory enemy in order to secure special powers, highjack democracy, and become Emperor. This symbolizes a universal pattern by which great organizations (i.e. businesses, communities, and nations) are destroyed by power-hungry individuals. That is how Adolf Hitler rose to power; that is how the Castro brothers have ruled Cuba for over 50 years; that is how Venezuela, Latin America’s most stable democracy until 2000, was dismantled by Hugo Chavez; and so on.

Likewise, I know that every single one of you, my dear readers, has witnessed similar sabotaging dynamics in the organizations you work for, forcing you to take sides or, sometimes, to stay on the sidelines for fear of being crushed by such devastating and debilitating power struggles.

Star Wars is a fictional representation of the real world, and Sith-like individuals are everywhere—and so are Jedi-like people.

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Coaching Darth Vader

As a professional coach, I wonder what would have happened to the whole Star Wars universe if Darth Vader had been properly coached. Interestingly, we get a glimpse thereof in The Return of the Jedi, in which Luke Skywalker constructively challenged Darth Vader, his father, by telling him, “I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully.” To which Darth Vader replied, “You don’t know the power of the dark side. I must obey my Master.”Luke, not letting go so easily, insisted, “Search your feelings, father. You can’t do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.” Vader, with the saddest voice he ever spoke in, painfully said, “It is too late for me, son.” After a brief pause, Vader continued, “The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your Master now.” Luke, completely heartbroken, settled the conversation by declaring, “Then, my father is truly dead.” These words had a profound impact on Darth Vader, who, after having Luke removed from the premises, looked lost, confused, and conflicted for the first time in the Star Wars saga.

What did Luke’s words do to Vader? They reminded him of his true self—the dignified sense of self he once had, lost, and could still recapture. As all Star Wars fans know, the foregoing conversation was followed by the movie’s climax, in which Luke defeated Vader in a light saber duel, and later, Lord Vader killed the Emperor for trying to kill Luke. The circle was complete. The love for his son saved Vader from the dark side and gave hope to the Rebel Alliance that democracy could once again be restored. Despite so much violence and tragedy, love, not hate, won the battle.

Coaching Anakin Skywalker

Now, what would have happened if Anakin Skywalker had been properly coached before he turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader? How much destruction, heartache, despair, and abuse could have been avoided? The reason the Emperor was able to turn Anakin to the dark side was the powerful but unstable combination of his natural talents and the profound fear, anger, and hatred caused by his mother’s kidnapping and untimely passing. What if someone could have aided Anakin in owning, transforming, and transcending those feelings in order to free himself from such an emotional yoke? Was that even a possibility?

By the same token, I wonder what would happen to the world, including its nations and organizations of all sorts, if its leaders were properly coached before and during their tenure. What lost dignities could be recaptured? What leaders would be transformed, demoted, or promoted? What organizations would disappear and what organizations would rise? These are definitely questions for a wise Jedi. May the Force be with you!

What Do You Think?

What does Star Wars tell us about business, politics, and human nature? How do Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader relate to the Top 3 Reasons NOT to WANT to Be a Leader? How does Darth Vader’s character arch relate to the Ego-Vs-Self dilemma? Do you know a real-life Darth Vader? Do you know a real-life Luke Skywalker?

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