When I was at CIA, the band of plucky intelligence officers who thought the Agency needed to change took to calling ourselves The Rebel Alliance. We would amuse ourselves by imagining which of us represented the different characters in Star Wars. (And also who in the CIA really was Darth Vader!) Just for the record I never thought of myself as a Princess Leia. More of the Yoda type actually.
When Carrie Fisher died just before Christmas, I was struck yet again by the significance of the Star Wars iconography and the importance of the Princess Leia character to my own Rebel at Work experience. Being a Rebel required patience, smarts, and a bias for action.
But many years later I began to appreciate how fact was more interesting than fiction, and that the actual person Carrie Fisher was even more of a Rebel role model. Tough as nails, always honest with others and with herself, Carrie Fisher was also someone who got things done. She advocated for mental health, wrote several books, and was brought in by Hollywood studios to fix the scripts of troubled movies. She reportedly performed wonders for many successful films and yet was never publicly credited for her work.
That kind of sounds familiar, doesn't it. So often the good we do as rebels is not acknowledged; our ideas are appropriated by others.
And yet we rebel on. It's the results that matter.
May the Force be with You! Carmen
Having the tough conversations
Everywhere Carmen and I speak people tell us that one of their top challenges is having difficult conversations. It can be so uncomfortable that people avoid the conversations entirely. And then things get even worse.
My biggest takeaway from the book is that we can’t change someone’s mind in a conversation. No matter how skilled you think you may be. Not going to happen.
The purpose of a conversation should be to create mutual understanding of an issue so that you can both figure out the best way forward. In other words, the goal is to genuinely figure out what’s important to the other person and express what’s important to us. That’s how shifts and change begin to happen.
I encourage you to read – no, devour and highlight — this book. It will not only make you more effective at work, your personal relationships are likely improve, too.
For your Rebel playlist consideration. Crank up the volume.
Outrage activates us.
It reminds us what we really care about.
What we don't want to lose or compromise.
It shakes us out of complacency.
To take action so we don't lose what we love.
Love your outrage.
And then get to work.