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What Star Wars can Teach About Mentorship

What Star Wars can Teach About Mentorship

The Star Wars saga has many recurring themes - the struggle between desire and destiny, good and evil, impulse and discipline. However, a theme that particularly stands out throughout the series is the examination of the relationship between student and teacher. This theme is similar to the relationship that an IT provider should strive to have with their clients.


For today’s Star Wars Day blog, we’ll review some of the lessons that a professional can learn from the Star Wars films, as well as what the insights that the relationships shared by the characters can reveal about being a mentor, as well as the mentored. To do so, we’ll examine some moments and characters from the complete series thus far - Episodes I through VIII - and the stand-alone Rogue One.

WARNING: this article may spoil a few key moments from the series, so continue at your own caution.

How to Be a Mentor, According to Star Wars
There is no shortage of those who could be considered mentors throughout the series. From Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan/Old Ben Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, and finally, Yoda, many characters accept the mantle of mentor… albeit begrudgingly, at times.

In order to be a mentor, there are two requirements that each of these characters present during the series. Likewise, many characters also exhibit just one or the other characteristic. Yet, as they do not exemplify both qualities, they don’t quite qualify as a true mentor. We will explore these characters in more detail later.

These two requirements are to be a committed educator, as well as an equally committed leader. Each of the mentors listed above have had the opportunity to be both, and rose to the occasion. Qui-Gon took the initiative to take a young slave into his care, campaigning to the Jedi Council for the ability to teach him. When Qui-Gon was dispatched by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan rose to the occasion and took up Anakin Skywalker as his padawan learner.

Years after Anakin succumbed to his fear and hubris to be reborn as Darth Vader, Obi-Wan continued to be a mentor under the name Ben Kenobi, teaching the Skywalker of the next generation how to embody the principles of the Jedi. Once this Skywalker, Luke, had learned to be a leader, he teamed up with his long lost sister, Princess Leia Organa, to defeat the Empire. While Leia continued to lead an underground organization committed to fighting the Empire’s last remnants, Luke retreated to a sanctuary to ensure he was able to train the next worthy Jedi.

Finally, we would be amiss if we neglected to mention Yoda’s involvement as a leader throughout the saga. From the very beginning of the story, Yoda was a respected leader of the Jedi Order, proving his worth on the battlefield and in the Senate. When the Empire rose, he retreated to his home planet in wait of the next generation of Jedi to train. He then passed on, but returned as a Force ghost to impart his wisdom again, later in the series’ timeline.

Lining Up Star Wars Mentorship with Our Own (and with The Odyssey)
As one might imagine, the concept of mentorship has been around for much longer than Star Wars has been. In fact, we get the word “mentor” from a character in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. Mentor was entrusted by the protagonist, Odysseus, to care for his son in his absence, and later assisted the young prince Telemachus in reuniting with his long-lost father by serving as his guide and, well, mentor.

In this way, Mentor serves a very similar purpose as many of the characters from Star Wars. By teaching another character and acting as a leader, he allows the protagonists to succeed in their quest - or, in the terminology more likely to be used in Star Wars, their mission. Furthermore, like the mentors to be found in Star Wars, Mentor shares a few characteristics with the mentors we see in the business world.

What Makes a Mentor, a Mentor
We’ve already established that a mentor should be a sort of amalgamation of a teacher, and a leader. This is admittedly a tricky balance to find, until you describe what kind of leader and teacher makes a mentor.

First, as a leader, you have to be able to be supportive as you take charge. As you work with a mentee, commit the time that the mentee needs to grow and devote your full attention to them. Just as Ben Kenobi understood Luke’s rage and bitterness after his aunt and uncle were slaughtered by the Empire’s stormtroopers, you need to be able to emphasize with your acolyte and guide them towards the higher purpose you can see them achieving.

As a teacher, it is important to also challenge those who you mentor. Not only should you assign tasks for your student to complete, these tasks should test the limits of their ability and set a standard that you expect them to meet. As Yoda challenged Luke to lift his X-wing fighter out of the swamps of Dagobah, he wasn’t coddling his student. Neither should you.

It is also important that, as their teacher, you review the lessons that have been imparted. These discussions will not only help ensure the information is retained, it will also encourage your mentee to draw their own conclusions. Remember, teachable moments happen all the time - it’s up to you to embrace them.

Finding Poor Examples in Rogue One
Alternatively, Rogue One offers a few examples of how to very much not be a positive leader. At the very beginning of the film, protagonist Jyn Urso’s father, Galen, is pressured into returning into the Empire’s service and designing the ultimate superweapon: the planet-destroying Death Star. In addition to being forced to work on a project he detests, he is stuck in a thoroughly unpleasant work environment. Oh, and did we mention that his wife was murdered and his daughter lost to him during the attack?

It should be no wonder, then, that instead of being loyal to his ‘employers,’ Galen instead decides to sabotage their operation from the inside. Hiding a critical weakness in the Death Star and sending word of it to the Rebel Alliance, Galen embodies the corporate espionage that a disgruntled employee could leverage against your business. A good leader sees the value in keeping an employee happy in two ways - first, it helps to keep that employee engaged and productive, and secondly, it reduces, if not eliminates, any ill will toward the organization.

In another example of the Empire’s failings in Rogue One, the antagonists of the film also leverage shady office politics to get a leg up on their superiors. For instance, Director Krennic elects to go over his commander’s head and out of the traditional chain of command, reporting directly to Darth Vader. As a commanding officer himself, Krennic serves as an example of what happens when office politics supersede the typical chain of command - and winds up being Force-choked into oblivion for his troubles. While it is highly unlikely that deviating from the chain of command will get you strangled like Krennic, it certainly doesn’t reflect well on you and shows a distinct lack of leadership and respect for the chain of command.

All this only goes to show that lessons in leadership can be found anywhere you look - even in a galaxy far, far away. Do you have any Jedi masters or mentors in your life? What have you learned from them? Share your thoughts in the comments, and may the Fourth be with you!

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9 Ingredients to Creating a Winning UCC Strategy

9 Ingredients to Creating a Winning UCC Strategy

If there is one thing that supports everything a successful business does, it has to be communication. Any company relies on its communications to ensure that its clients are satisfied with their services, and as communications have improved, it has only become easier for a unified communication and collaboration, or UCC, strategy to take form.

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Microsoft Word Makes Collaboration Easier With Co-Authorship

Microsoft Word Makes Collaboration Easier With Co-Authorship

Does your workforce have the option of working together on a document in Microsoft Word? This type of collaboration is something that is much desired in business today. One of the best ways to take advantage of this collaboration is through Microsoft Office 365’s built-in sharing features, which allow your workforce to work together on various initiatives.

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Employees Spend Nearly 80% of Their Time Communicating About Work. You Can Change That

Employees Spend Nearly 80% of Their Time Communicating About Work. You Can Change That

How much time is wasted in your workplace just trying to communicate about potential projects? The notable difference between productivity and stagnation is that one is making you money, while the other is costing you money. Employees spend about 80 percent of their time in meetings, on the phone, or responding to emails, so it falls on the business owner to ensure that communications are as easy as possible so minimal time is wasted.


There are different approaches to this problem. The first place where you can cut down on wasted time is the one that you likely have the most control over: meetings.

Let’s face it; sometimes meetings aren’t as productive as they should be. One way to keep this from happening is to consider how you can make more efficient use of everyone’s time. Start by making a plan and considering what exactly is on the agenda. Ask yourself what the purpose of the meeting is, and if the goal of the meeting could be fulfilled more effectively in another way. If the goal of the meeting can be achieved without collecting your entire workforce into the same room, consider doing so.

Once you have determined that the meeting is the most efficient way to achieve this goal, you want to ensure that you communicate the purpose of the meeting to all of those who must attend. This way, everyone knows what they need to get out of the meeting, and nobody will be confused about why the meeting is being held. This keeps wasted time to a minimum.

By remaining cognizant of what your meetings should accomplish, you’ll inevitably save time and even wrap your meetings up earlier. This can even change the way that employees view meetings. Instead of keeping a meeting going long enough to fill in the space on their schedules, they will see that they can get more done since the goal was achieved earlier than expected.

Another way that you can make your meetings more effective is by creating an outline and then sending the agenda out to everyone at least 24 hours in advance. This way, your workforce knows what they can expect, as well as put together their own notes for quality input throughout the meeting. Another way that you can use this to your advantage is send them something to have read before the meeting starts--in essence, assigning homework. By using these methods, your meetings will be less improvised and more focused.

Once the meeting has ended, you can ask your employees for feedback regarding the process. If you take the time to listen to all participants’ feedback, you can then use it to improve the process and meet goals even more effectively next time. Eventually, it will lead to a chain reaction where meetings go by faster and faster, to the point where you have the process down.

When it comes to streamlining any processes in your office, the right technology can make or break the effort. Technology can help you make your meetings more efficient by utilizing video conferencing or voice chat technologies, so that your team doesn’t have to be in the same place all at once. They can even dial in with their mobile devices from their current location.

This strategic approach to collaboration technology can help your organization thrive, as well as focus on creating more opportunities for profit. To learn more about how there are technology solutions specifically designed to improve collaboration, reach out to us at 800.394.2301.

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Technology Has the Power to Bring the Office Together Like Never Before

Technology Has the Power to Bring the Office Together Like Never Before

b2ap3_thumbnail_workplace_collaboration_400.jpgThe technological landscape of the office has changed significantly over the years. Only a decade ago collaboration could only be accomplished through sitting down in a conference room and discussing issues face to face. Today, however, technology is changing the way that we as a society view collaboration, and thanks to various achievements in software development, it’s easier than ever to work together on team initiatives.

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