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Lessons From Anakin Skywalker: Making Better Choices Through Recognizing And Managing Our Fears

In the latest and final Star Wars saga, Anakin Skywalker makes the choice to surrender to the dark side of the force. Thus makes his transformation complete into the evil Darth Vader. This choice is motivated by Anakin's fearful premonition that his pregnant wife Padme will die in childbirth. We watch as the tormented Anakin succumbs to the influence of Chancellor Palpatine who suggests that it might be possible to save Padme using the dark side of the force.

Anakin's choice to compromise all his other principles, Jedi values, in order to save his wife is both tragic and understandably human. How many of us have made wrong life or business choices out of the fear of losing something whether its pride, money, relationships, being popular, or missing out on some exciting experience? We then experience a negative consequence because we compromised what we knew was right. Perhaps it could be our values, in favor of a misperceived fear that clouds our better judgment.

In Anakin's case his fear of losing Padme becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy. He is driven and consumed by his fear and all his subsequent destructive actions are rooted in fear. In the process of surrendering to his fears and eventually to the dark side of the force, Anakin loses his compassion, his trust, and his heartfelt connection to others.

Anakin's dilemma can be seen in the context of business. In times of economic uncertainty, leaders may resort to reactionary decisions such as cutting costs or reducing headcount. What appears to provide immediate relief actually fails to produce the desired outcome. Morale, productivity and company culture are adversely affected. Business leaders whose decisions are motivated from apprehension or distress about the future give power to their fears. And like Anakin, those fears can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies that cause harm.

In contrast to decisions motivated by fear are decisions which take us towards a positive vision. If a choice is made from belief in vision, company culture, adherence to core values and trust in the future, the driving motivation can be fulfillment or satisfaction. Operating by the above principles may not always be easy and can be very challenging during times of uncertainty. However, decisions made from these principles will always prove to be more fulfilling as integrity and authenticity are preserved.

How can you tell the difference in what motivates your choices? If that decision causes worry, anxiety and being attached to a future event, you can bet there is fear involved. If you are calm, trusting, energized and focused on things working out, that choice is most likely coming from positive belief.

Even with the best of intentions, fear is something that can creep in on all of us. However, we can manage our fears, if we step back and really look at what's driving us. Don't let fear sabotage your decision making as in Anakin's case. Determine what your core values, purpose and mission are. Clarify your own Jedi values and then ask yourself the following questions:

? Will this decision move me closer or farther away from my core values?

? Is this decision based on a reactive solution that may violate my core values or company culture?

? What are other possibilities for my business or life that I haven't considered or addressed?

? How can I communicate and elicit support from the people I trust for the challenges I am facing?

? How can I learn to exercise patience and mindfulness as I face my challenges?

It is interesting to see what would have happened if Anakin Skywalker had asked himself these questions before he turned to the dark side of the force. But then again, we might not have had all those great movies to enjoy. "May The Force Be With You!"

Philip Okrend, CPCC, JD is a Certified Life and Business Coach and the owner of Stepping Stones Coaching. He works with individuals and organizations in improving performance, balance and fulfillment as well as recognizing and managing their fears. He can be reached at phil@steppingstonescoaching.com or visit his website http://www.steppingstonescoaching.com

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