May the Force Be with You!

Be Self-Confident Even When You Don’t Feel Like It!

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)

Do you remember Luke Skywalker training with Master Yoda in the fifth episode of Star Wars, the swampone called ‘The Empire Strikes Back’? They are on the planet Dagobah which is covered with swamps. Luke is standing upside down – on one hand only and Yoda is actually perched on top of one of his feet. R2D2 watches nearby and shows he’s impressed by emitting his whistle sounds of appreciation. Luke is using the Force to pile stones on top of each other and he even starts to lift his X-wing aircraft out of the swamp in which he landed it. And then… Luke falls, the stones roll off and the X-wing sinks back into the water. "We’ll never get it out now!" says Luke, clearly deflated. Yoda sighs and replies: "Always with you it cannot be done".

How about another memorable scene – actually two. First, the one when Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti who dared pooh pooh the Force, calling it "your sad devotion to that ancient religion". "I find your lack of faith disturbing" counters Vader in his cavernous voice…. And the other scene I have in mind is when Vader says "You have failed me for the last time Admiral" as he remotely, yes remotely!, strangles Admiral Ozzel  (I am still amazed that the Force lets you asphyxiate someone in another location…)

Whereas Luke dropping the stones and the X-wing was a case of too little Force, Darth is a case of too much Force. What we want in life is the right amount of Force, not too light but not too dark either…

But why am I reminiscing about Star Wars? What does Star Wars have to do with success at work? Well, It is because Star Wars tells us about learning to be self-confident even on those occasions when we least feel like it. In this post, I am beginning a two-parter on self-confidence.

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Bringing Down Darth Vader

Dealing with Conflict

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)


Hello dear reader, I’m writing you from London, and today it’s the Royal Wedding!! Did many of you watch it? Ladies, did you think Kate looked gorgeous?

As promised, in this last post on self-confidence, here are more tips to stay self-confident even in the face of conflict: that will give us a chance to apply the 3-step model I showed you last time.

By conflict, I mean someone criticising you harshly. In public. Not constructive feedback between the two of you. It’s also about someone disagreeing with you in a disparaging way. In front of others.

All right, so let’s practice the 3-step model in this situation. Listen comes first. But to listen when you’re under fire, let me first suggest you count to at least three in your head and breathe in through your stomach. Keep cool, don’t rise to the bait.

Another tip to help you stay cool: separate the person from the problem. If you focus on the aggressor and start to think "I hate this guy", you’re paying attention to the wrong thing: you are not listening. What is the substance of what this person is saying? Discount all the noise, the smelly wrapping around the words, the unpleasant packaging: what does he/she want? If it’s unclear, ask for specifics. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by "This work is crap!" Ask: "Would you tell me how I can improve my work?" People are disarmed by candour.

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