Everything I Know About HR, I Learned from Yoda

He’s little. He’s green. He’s old and wrinkly. He talks funny … Yoda is everything Star Wars for me!

We don’t know a lot about Yoda’s background. By the time we meet him in the first trilogy, he’s already near death. However, the one thing that comes across very clearly from him is his wisdom and his reverence for the Force.

Then in the second trilogy, we get to see more of Yoda in action! He’s teaching the youth on how to harness the Force so they can grow up to be Jedis; he’s mentoring Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan on being a good Jedi Master and how to guide the young Padawans; he’s serving on the Council and giving advice on how to govern and protect the galaxy … And he wields one meeaaaan light saber!!!

So what are the lessons we should take from Yoda?

  • Stay Force sensitive. No one — and I mean NO ONE — was as in tune to the Force as Yoda. The mission, vision, values and policies of our organizations are our Force. We must always be in tune with them. We must use them to train, mentor, guide, advise and protect our galaxy.
  • Forgive our failures. Yoda’s failure to recognize the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was the one behind the Clone Wars and was the Sith Lord Darth Sidious led to the Republic being overthrown and all the Jedi being wiped out or forced into exile. As HR pros, sometimes we make the wrong call and it lands us and the organizations we serve into time-consuming and expensive trouble! It can be devastating to our professional confidence. However, we don’t have the option to hide out on Dagobah for a couple centuries while things settle down. Instead, we have to pull it together, own our error and make a plan to move forward. Failure isn’t final until you quit.
  • Just because we don’t fight doesn’t mean we can’t. Unlike many others in Star Wars, Yoda whipped out his light saber as an absolute last resort. Combat just wasn’t his thing — but when he finally decided to fight …. It was a sight to behold! Check him out here whooping up on Darth Sidious. Awesome!

Typically, HR isn’t the loudest voice in the organization. We’ve been conditioned not to make too much fuss or demand too much. But when it’s necessary, HR has got to know when to step up and fight — for our function, for our organization or for our employees. And more than just fight, we have to win.

I think no post about Yoda would be complete without his sayings. Here are my favorites for the world of work:

  • “Clear your mind must be if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot”
  • “You must unlearn what you have learned”
  • “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind”
  • “Control, control. You must learn control”
  • “Mind what you have learned. Save it you can”
  • “Named must your fear be before banish it you can”
  • “Always two there are, master and apprentice”
  • “Secret, shall I tell you? Grand Master of Jedi Order am I. Won this job in a raffle I did, think you? ‘How did you know, how did you know, Master Yoda?’ Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is to know”
  • “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack”
  • “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
  • “May the Force be with you”

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