In a recent interview with Darth Vader I asked why he thought he could succeed where others had failed. “I heard the Force say to me, your excuse will never be enough for someone who has a reason to do what you won’t. It is the one standard that I expect everyone around me to adhere.”
While Vader is clearly the kind of guy that can sense the disturbance of a banana in a room, you don’t need the force to ask yourself why everyone is ignoring a critical piece of information. Be proactive and analyze it. “If I don’t have enough information, then I put myself in the middle of the problem and figure it out.”
He told us that sometimes getting accurate information means you have to be open to learning to see something in a new way. It can be uncomfortable but the best way to see if you are ready is, “to ask yourself what you would do with the new info, even if it didn’t go the way you expected.” Vader challenged us to ask ourselves who our excuses affect. If you think you have a real reason why you can’t do something, then why are you making excuses?
I had a hard time picturing Darth as a reasonable leader I could approach without consequences. Seeing my wary eye he dismissed my silent accusation.
“I know I can be intimidating but it would surprise you with how often these officers will say the problem is beyond their scope. I think it’s fair that I let them know right away what they can really expect from me. You only see the final outcome of weeks where I am patiently dealing with someone who has led me on and inevitably proves I can’t count on them. When they demonstrate time and time again that they are more interested in pointing out the lack of accountability in others I know they are too focused on someone else taking the blame than working towards a solution for the good of the Empire. At that point I know it’s time to make room for someone else who can do the job.”
Put that way I felt he had a point. With so much at stake knowing how to remove the obstacles in an efficient way was something to be admired. Still I wondered if it bothered him that his own son impeded him. I wanted to know why he didn’t get mad at Luke for blowing up the Death Star? Was he ever tempted to bring it up and throw it in Luke’s face that he had another one waiting? Wasn’t he pissed about all that money and resources blown away? “Sure,” he said. “Using the Force means managing my anger so it works for me when I need it to. Which means that sometimes I need to vent and let off some justified steam from time to time. Managing my anger means knowing when to let some things go and walkaway.”
Vader explained that the key to overcoming problems was to see things from a universal perspective.
“It means I don’t get trapped into rationalizing the problem. I didn’t look at Luke blowing up the Death Star as some sort of show stopper. That kind of thinking can create a never ending loop and then you’re distracted from making key decisions while in a moment of crisis. You have to think and act on things beyond a single moment. You can only do that when you are clear about what you expect from yourself. I had a long term expectation of Luke and what he could do. If it took a Death Star or two for him to get to know himself than it was worth walking away to follow through on the big picture,” he told me.
I thanked Darth Vader for taking the time to speak from the heart. I felt like I misjudged him on a lot of things and appreciated his take on the value of building character by not making excuses.