10 things tech pros can learn from "Star Wars"
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1. Double check for design flaws
If there's one lesson we can all learn from “Star Wars,” it's that no matter what you're building-whether it be an app or a space station capable of destroying entire planets--you really ought to check for obvious flaws. We often overlook things that are painfully obvious to the rest of the world, making it essential to not only take a second look, but to also seek external input. I'm sure the Empire's engineering team didn't see anything wrong with a couple of exposed thermal exhaust ports that led directly to the station's reactor core. It's fine, they must've said, it's not much bigger than a womp rat. What could possibly go wrong?
2. Be confident in your decisions
Let's be honest: Luke could've probably put an end to the Empire an entire movie earlier if he'd only believed in himself a little more. I can already hear Yoda's frustration at having a student so utterly lacking in confidence. Sure, he tried, but he failed because he wasn't confident. You just want to shake him and yell, Try not! DO! Those sage words go for everyone, no matter the task. So go forth young padawan, do!
3. Sometimes you have to fail to succeed
Sometimes you try with everything you've got and you still fail. But look at the bright side, you're in good company; most of us try and fail a whole bunch before we succeed. But try hard enough and eventually you'll get there. "The Empire Strikes Back" is all about failure. Luke fails, Han and Leia fail, even the droids fail. The Rebel Alliance is nearly wiped out. But you know what? If they hadn't failed at first they wouldn't have been able to rally and succeed the next time around. And then we'd have no epic final battle on Endor, no confrontation with Emperor Palpatine, and no Ewoks (I didn't say it was all positive).
4. Collaboration is key
If there's one overarching lesson across the “Star Wars” saga that extends even to the prequels, it's that no one can succeed alone. Anakin needs Obi Wan, Luke needs Han, Han needs Leia, C-3Po needs R2. Try and go it alone and you're likely to lose, or worse. Having a team you can rely on is crucial for brainstorming, problem solving and meeting deadlines. It's also pretty handy if you ever get frozen in carbonite.
5. Deadlines are important
Getting your work done on time is critical to success. Perfection is fine, but not if it means you have nothing to show for your efforts. Don't believe me? Just ask the Empire. If the construction of the second Death Star hadn't fallen months behind (seriously, who are these engineers?) then the Rebels wouldn't have had enough time to get organized and J.J. Abrams might be directing three very different movies right about now. So, stop slacking off and get it done! The Empire is counting on you.
6. Don't get distracted
I'd like to think that if only Anakin had been a little more focused on, say, the immense evil about to spread across the galaxy, and a little less on his love life, a lot of problems could have been avoided. Heck, maybe if Anakin paid attention to the growing evil within himself, a lot of problems could've been avoided. What I'm saying is that Anakin wasn't very focused on the things that matter. You should focus on the things that matter. Beware the dark side of the Force, that clouds your judgement.
7. Not all languages are created equal
Yes, it would be nice to be fluent in every programming language known to man, but let's be practical; you don't need them all. In the same vein, it's great that C-3P0 was fluent in more than six million forms of communication, but honestly, was he ever going to use more than a couple million? I understand that you want to be prepared and have as many certifications as you can under your belt, but focus and specialization are just as important. And let's be honest, maybe C-3P0 could've used some of that limited memory space for more important things, such as a personality.
8. Always back up your data
Speaking of C-3P0, plenty of potential disasters (as well as plot holes) would have been avoided if only C-3P0 had thought to back up his memory. Oh hey, I knew your dad, he may have said to Luke upon meeting him on Tatooine, he's Darth Vader. No seriously! Think about how much simpler things could've been. Always back up your data! The last thing you want is to be half way through a thing, only to have to redo the thing. Of course none of this explains why in Episode Four R2, who did not have his memory wiped, never said anything about knowing Obi Wan, or why Obi Wan, who wasn't a droid, never said anything about knowing R2 and C-3P0, but I digress.
9. Take breaks
Work/life balance is crucial. Americans don't take enough time off, especially those Americans working in the tech sector. Maybe if Anakin had taken a few days off to go surfing, or pod racing or whatever, he wouldn't be so cranky and thus less likely to turn to the dark side. Don't succumb to the dark side, take some time off. Your team, your family and your work will all be happier for it.
10. The job with the better pay is not always the better job
Let's be real, the Rebel Alliance probably had nothing on the Empire in terms of salary and benefits. Sure, the Empire had a pretty stringent dress code, but their medical, dental, and retirement plans were probably top notch. One run down medical ship can't compete with a medical network that stretched across hundreds of worlds. And let's not even compare salaries. Are you telling me that a network administrator on Hoth is making more than one on Coruscant? Cost of living alone would add an extra 30 percent. And yet, who would you rather work for? Salary and better benefits might not mean that much when your boss has a reputation for choking people with his force grip, or your workplace is a giant metal sphere that has a tendency of exploding every few years. Look at the full package, and that includes company culture.