What Starwars Taught Me About Success and Failure


by Senior Lecturer, Sylvia Foo



I was a Secondary Two student when the first Star Wars movie was screened in 1977. George Lucas unleashed a phenomenon when he introduced movie audiences to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader and that almost pseudo-religious Jedi knight benediction, "May the Force be with you".


Won over by this genre of movie, I waited with bated breath for the next two installments in the then Star Wars trilogy. I was aghast when Darth Vader revealed he was Luke Skywalker’s daddy turned bad and like everyone else, I cheered when the bad daddy overcame the dark side in him to destroy the evil Emperor and rescue Luke.


Many years have passed and the initial Star Wars trilogy has expanded to include prequels and sequels to the delight or dismay of hardcore fans. Nevertheless, it is the original movie that is the inspiration for my present article because it left such an impression when I was a teenager who was struggling with puberty and self-doubt.


At the beginning of the movie, the ship transporting rebel alliance leader, Princess Leia, is captured by a much larger Imperial ship. As the rebel fighters prepare to defend the princess against capture by the superior imperial soldiers, you can almost sense that they are going to fail miserably. They were slaughtered but their resistance managed to buy precious time for Princess Leia to hide the plans of the Death Star and a holographic recording in R2-D2, the droid.


So some good did come out of this failure. We need to try to find the positive when things go wrong so that we can move forward and try again.


On route to the planet Alderaan, Obi-wan Kenobi teaches Luke Skywalker how to use the lightsaber, the galactic version of a sword. Luke is mocked by Han Solo for his clumsy attempts at swordplay. Han Solo is also highly skeptical about the power of the Force. Obi-wan Kenobi encourages Luke to persevere and he manages to learn to wield the lightsaber effectively even with his eyes covered by the visor of a helmet.


Success comes with perseverance and practice. Not everyone will be on board with what you are doing but like Luke Skywalker, having a supportive mentor or teacher can help speed the learning journey.


On the Death Star, Luke, Han set and Chewbacca set out to rescue Princess Leia while Obiwan Kenobi goes to disable the tractor beam so that the Millennium Falcon can escape. Both tasks are accomplished and the motley band manages to get away from the Death Star in the Millennium Falcon to the rebel base on the planet Yavin.


Success comes more easily with some planning and consideration of one's strengths and weaknesses. Obi-wan was a much better choice to disable the tractor beam because of his superior Jedi powers. Imagine Chewbacca trying to lend into the shadows while sneaking around the heavily patrolled Death Star.


However, the escape from the Death Star has its price. Obi-wan allowed himself to be killed by Darth Vader to ensure the rest could get away.


Success often comes at some kind of cost of sacrifice. That sacrifice can be in terms of working harder and longer at something you are not good at and giving up the time to have fun.


In the final battle, the rebel alliance wages a desperate attempt to destroy the Death Star. They have to make an assault to knock out the main reactor of the powerful space station before it obliterates the planet Yavin. The rebel assault squadron consists of a small force of x-wing fighters, one of which is piloted by Luke Skywalker. It is Luke who eventually fires the proton torpedo that triggers the destruction of the Death Star. If we look at Luke’s profile, he is very far from being the professional battle-scarred pilot. He is a young farmhand and relatively new to fighting in the galactic civil war.


It is interesting to note that George Lucas, the director, and writer of Star Wars faced challenges in 1973 when trying to find a Hollywood studio to fund the writing and production of his initial storyline. He approached several Hollywood studios but they rejected his project because they found the storyline unconventional. It seemed to be in the science fiction genre but it also had elements of fantasy and adventure. Eventually, Lucas managed to get the head of 20th Century Fox to support the writing and production of the film. The rest is history. According to the Guinness World Records, Star Wars remains the third-highest-grossing movie of all time.


Being different from having a different idea can lead to success.


A person with dyslexia is different in the way he or she learns but that difference can be positive too and lead to much success. Maybe among our man learners with dyslexia is an original and creative thinker who will one day produce a worldwide phenomenon to top the success of Star Wars. I look forward to that.


Read it in FACETS: What Starwars Taught Me About Success and Failure

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