Grand Admiral Thrawn: Reviewing Life Lessons
Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars franchise, and one of the things I was most looking forward to this summer was picking up a copy of Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn. The sequel to Thrawn was released July 24th, and the book doesn’t disappoint. Rather, than review the book and risk leaking a spoiler, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to look back on some of Thrawn’s greatest quotes.
I reached out to my own Jedi high council, fellow bloggers and inspiring leaders to help share how you can live your life strategically and financially like Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Morgan Strebler was a logical first choice, I had an awesome time interviewing him and he is the only person I know who can wield the force. Well, at least that’s how I like to believe he pulls off those mind-bending illusions.
“War is a primarily a game of skill. It is a Contest of mind matched against mind, tactics matched against tactics. But there is also an element of chance that is more suited to games of cards or dice. A wise tactician studies those games, as well, and learns from them. – Grand Admiral Thrawn
Thrawn was a brilliant tactical leader; he knew tactical lessons could be learned from art or even card games. Likewise, studying the fool from a Tarot deck of cards, you can find wisdom that applies to business and life in general.
The Fool represents a new cycle, a new beginning. Either you feel stuck in the situation you’re in and are about to change it. Either way, the Fool represents a change in your life. It is also here where you must remember your past, as it has made you the person you are today. The Fool also represents an optimistic person who sometimes does not see danger ahead because of that optimism. Remember to think logically and never lose your ground. Your ego may get the best of you. Now is the time to mature, and avoid diving in without forethought.
ESI Money has been an amazing mentor to me in my blogging career, he likes to think of himself as Batman. Really, he is more like a combination of Gandalf and Tony Stark, with a level of patience that borders on the saintly. Either way, his Thrawn-inspired advice is spot on.
“And when a mind is too deficient in understanding, the resulting gap is often filled with resentment.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
Wow. Who knew that wisdom from another galaxy could be so appropriate for us?
These days it seems quite common for most of American society to scoff at those who choose a lifestyle where financial freedom can be attained at 50, 40, or even 30.
It’s almost a given that when the masses hear of someone who has retired before 60 they start poking made-up holes in the story. Their list of excuses includes, but are not limited to, some of the following:
- “This is a lie. It possibly can’t be true.”
- “Sure, I could do this if ___________ (fill in the blank, usually something like “make $200,000 a year).”
- “I bet they received a big inheritance.”
- “Who wants to scrimp and save that much? Sounds terrible to me.”
- “This will never work. They will probably go bankrupt soon.”
- “I like working too much to retire.”
And on and on.
The reason they are so jaded (or as Grand Admiral Thrawn states above “filled with resentment”) is because they are “deficient in understanding.” They don’t know that there are easily learned money principles that can make them wealthy. And even when they do have a bit of understanding, they often don’t want to apply those to their lives because while the principles to becoming wealthy are easy to understand, they are difficult for most people to apply (since they require self-control).
So what should we do with these people? Send them to Abafar to mine rhydonium, of course!
Ok, perhaps that’s a bit too drastic. Instead, we need to keep exposing them to the simple, basic concepts of personal finance that hopefully one day they will apply. For me, I interview millionaires for this reason — to share real-life stories of how others have earned, saved, and invested their way to wealth — hopefully providing a pathway that even the most deficient in understanding can eventually follow.
Steve over at Think Save Retire doesn’t have some of the geeky “street cred” as some of the others on my “high council”. However, he lives in an air stream trailer, and that’s kind of like a spaceship.
Think Save Retire
“Failure to act always brings consequences. But sometimes, those consequences can be turned to one’s advantage.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
In the course of my life, I’ve met a lot of “ideas” people. People with great ideas are the visionaries of our time. They think about things in a new and creative way and question the norm. They don’t simply accept things as they are, but they observe and ponder how things could be.
But, I have found very few of these people to be “doers”. Their strength lies in the ideas, not necessarily in the implementation. They think. The hypothesize. But when it comes to putting action behind their words, they tend to wait. Or drag their feet. Our bury potential action under mountains of excuses that I begin to lose sight of what their hypothesis was!
If you are a business owner, scientist, or, yes, even a blogger, that inaction can be detrimental. Without action, ideas do not (and cannot) have an impact. But, that inaction can provide more time to refine the idea. To discover potential pitfalls. To develop backup plans in case of failure.
Inaction also provides the opportunity to “get your mind right”, to dive into the implementation process with a solid understanding and purpose. Or, with renewed energy and drive. Sometimes in life, timing is everything. Great ideas without great timing are not typically great successes.
But, ideas that come to life exactly when they mean the most turn into something magical. They make the most impact. They change the greatest number of lives.
It’s *these ideas* that improve our lives the most.
Miguel from The Rich Miser shares great tips on how to live well on a budget. Just because the galaxy is in the midst of a civil war, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself once and a while.
The Rich Miser
“But ultimate safety does not exist. Those who trust in such will find that hope dashed upon the very rock behind which they seek to hide.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
The rebels thought they were safe on Hoth, the Empire’s soldiers thought themselves secure on the Death Star. Alas, it turned out to be nothing more than a temporary illusion. In the same way, it would be a mistake to think your assets are absolutely safe in any one place.
Real estate and stocks crashed with the 2008 crisis. Even countries can fail to pay their creditors in full (I’m looking at you, Greece). That’s why the lesson here is to diversify, not just across one asset class (such as by owning many different stocks), but over multiple asset classes. You can hold stocks, bonds, real estate, precious metals, national currencies, and even cryptocurrencies.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should put the same amount of cash in each class. History teaches that stocks have some of the best returns over the long term, so you should probably be heavily invested in the stock market unless you’re close to retirement. Just don’t ignore other investments, since they can still provide good income and growth, while greatly reducing your risk.
Also, be wary of overextending yourself. Before the housing crash, many people took out mortgages with little or no money down. And it worked without a hitch, since home values kept rising. But when the crash came and people’s homes were suddenly worth much less, lots of folks found themselves underwater almost overnight, with mortgage balances that exceeded the value of their homes.
The world is always changing, and what is safe today may not be as secure tomorrow. The Ewoks would probably never have guessed that the Empire would come and set up a base on their idyllic Endor, but the AT-ST’s landed one day nonetheless. So be prepared and diversified beforehand, since we can never be completely sure of what tomorrow will bring.
Personal Finance For Beginners
“Some people will not respond to reason. Others refuse to consider alternatives to their normal pattern of behavior.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
The fundamentals of personal finance are simple. Changing your real-life behaviors to match these principles, on the other hand, is not.
To reach your financial goals, you may have to adopt new financial habits that others consider to be “alternative” when compared to what’s the norm in today’s culture.
- Investing toward retirement when you’re fresh out of college?
- Paying more than the minimum payment on your debt?
- Saving up 3-6 months of your living expenses in case of an emergency?
Perhaps these goals and behaviors sound idealistic. Maybe it seems excessive, abnormal, or impractical for your situation.
But if you’re trying to do something remarkable with your personal finances — and these days, simply being debt-free or having enough to retire at 65 is unusual — then you’ll have to start disregarding what others consider to be normal behavior.
Did you get a raise at work?
Rather than celebrating by upgrading your car or moving into a nicer apartment after you get a raise, treat yourself to dinner and then boost yours saving or debt payments with that new money immediately.
Are you splurging on fun and entertainment every weekend?
Find cheap things you can do when you’re bored that won’t require spending an entire day’s worth of income. The phrases “having fun” and “spending money” aren’t synonymous. While you don’t need to become a shut-in, there’s nothing wrong with spending a Friday night cooking dinner or reading a book at home every once in a while.
Want to buy the latest phone, gaming console, or laptop?
Don’t just finance it or throw it on a credit card because you’ve got a high credit score. Wait until you have enough money saved up to make the purchase with cash (or pay off your credit card immediately. Even before all of this… stop and ask yourself, “Do I really need to keep up with the Joneses?”
Whatever you do, just don’t assume that you need to be “normal” when it comes to your financial decisions. Make the weird choice: the one that reflects your dreams and values even it’s not the same decision being made by those around you.
Mike from MikedUp Blog is a CEO, blogger, and a forensic scientist.
“It Is never wrong to be curious. But it can sometimes be dangerous” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
- You need to exercise to be healthy – But exercise too much and you’ll lose balance in your life.
- You need to plan every detail of your pitch to the new client – But, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – General George S. Patton.
- Work hard in your career to climb the ladder and build wealth – But work too much and you’ll alienate your loved ones…
Star Wars post, The Finance Twins, need I say more?
The Finance Twins
“Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake, ensign? Anyone can make an error. It only becomes a mistake when you refuse to correct it.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
Pursuing perfection is a fool’s errand. Worse yet is expecting perfection. After all, life is a beautiful mess. At times it may seem like everyone around you has everything figured out, but remember, even Luke Skywalker had a deadbeat dad.
In life, you will always make errors. Some larger than others, but errors nonetheless. What is telling, however, is how you respond to the errors that you’ve made. Do you point fingers at those around you? Is it your parent’s fault that you had to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to pay for college? Is it your employer’s fault you didn’t take advantage of the 401K plan they offered you? Or are you able to accept your circumstances and learn from your errors.
For me personally, I graduated with a degree in finance, but I still didn’t sign up for the company 401K at my first job because I didn’t know what it even was. Do you know what I did next? I became a personal finance expert and read numerous books to learn everything I could. Today, you can find my articles about personal finance on Forbes.
It is those who refuse to take accountability for their actions who will ultimately repeat their errors and make the costliest mistakes. Do you know you should create a monthly budget for your household, yet you continue to spend freely? You’re making a mistake. Know you should open an IRA, yet still keep your retirement savings in a checking account? Mistake. Do you realize you shouldn’t be picking individual stocks and would be better off over the long term by sticking with index funds? Maybe not, but you do now.
Be kind to yourself when you make errors and fear not, for our galaxy is more forgiving than a galaxy far far away and a long time ago. What matters is what you do starting today, ensign.
Duke Of Dollars is a cartoon and lives in a castle, his inclusion seemed logical. Although it is entirely possible I read the Bio wrong, I’m easily distracted by pictures.
Duke of Dollars
“One can concentrate so closely on the words of a sentence that one thereby misses the meaning. As can happen in any area of life. You must never lose focus on the larger landscape.” ― Force Commander Thrawn
Throughout your life in the galaxy, many big decisions will come your way – marriage, mortgage, cars, and children. They won’t all come at once and although sometimes unplanned, starting to prepare in advance can make a huge difference when the time indeed does come.
You wouldn’t just hop into an x-wing, fly around and hope that you land on the TIE Advanced X1 to take on Darth Vader as you save the world. Instead, you would train to conquer the power of the force, train with your lightsaber until it felt as if it was an extension on your arm, draw up a plan, and from these preparations, destroy the man in the black mask.
In other words, by preparing for the big events in your life that have a strong probability to occur, you are getting that lightsaber warmed up for a strike to become the legendary Jedi you deserve to be!
Mr. Fiintrovert was kind enough to share his experience with co-workers in a previous post, and his excellent contribution earned him the new nickname “Mace Windu of the Water Cooler”. I’m not sure if the name will stick, but the advice is excellent as normal.
“Leadership is a role and a task that should never be aspired to lightly. Neither should loyalty be given without reason.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
When it comes to the spoils of obtaining leadership positions, it’s easy for us to “imagine quite a bit” of compensation and authority. But we are wise to heed Thrawn’s warning that taking on a leadership role is a great burden.
Sure, many of us aspire to be a CEO or owner of our own business. However, we usually leave out the heavy responsibilities of such roles, like the nights worrying about making payroll or the hours we may lose with our families. Looking into your employee’s eyes when you have to make layoffs is a fate worse than explaining to Emperor Palpatine how you let the rebels escape.
On the other hand, we shouldn’t shy away from leadership roles. Some of us, especially introverts, would rather kiss a Wookie than “play the game.” But making small talk with our coworkers, attending social events, and being able to present our ideas is just as important as producing excellent work. When it comes to leadership, people want to feel human at work and taking care of social needs is an important role of a leader.
When thinking about aspiring to a leadership position, it is better for the organization that you, a qualified and talented individual, play the game a bit in order to be a leader. Or, do you want the whole organization to suffer under some nerf herder just because you felt some small talk degraded your day a bit?
I’m not saying you are The Chosen One, but you’re reading this blog trying to better yourself so odds are you would make a pretty great leader. So do what it takes – even if you have to “play the game.” It will benefit everyone around you.
On the subject of loyalty, Thrawn is perhaps one of the only leaders in the Galactic Empire to inspire such devotion based on his merits. Thrawn counsels us not to blindly give out our loyalty.
Many of us who tilt toward having rich inner experiences can build up entire relationships with a person we’ve only met a few times. We have to ensure that the person we are giving loyalty to has earned it through action and not simply our idealization of that person.
Does the well-polished financial advisor or insurance salesman deserve your loyalty just because of some complicated product he has presented to you? Let’s look beyond the veneer and at the actual value before we give loyalty by turning over our hard earned cash.
Should you be loyal to a boss or company when your true passion lies elsewhere? Yes, they provided a steady paycheck for many but this is your life. We aren’t guaranteed any years. Our lives should not be lived in the service of financially enriching others.
Thrawn may be on the Dark Side, but it’s a big, imperfect galaxy out there. His wisdom is hard earned. While we need to understand the burdens of leadership, we also have to understand the consequences of allowing less qualified people to ascend to those roles. And as we move through our life and career, we should inspire loyalty by example, while practicing patience and prudence when dispensing our own allegiance.
I’m a huge fan of Scott at Making Momentum, he wakes up at 5:00 am, walks to work every day (even in the rain), and has perfected the art of typing while kayaking. He is the Jedi Master of productivity.
“Alliances Are Useful In Some Situations. In Others, They’re Vital” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
Han and Chewie. C3P0 and R2D2. Finn and Rey. Thrawn and Eli Vanto.
The cross-section of the entire Star Wars story to-date is full of iconic alliances that come together to serve a common purpose.
Sometimes these alliances fall closer to the useful end of the spectrum. They provide mutual benefits for both parties but the overall importance really doesn’t dictate a central importance in the overall journey of their lives.
At other times, these alliances are absolutely vital.
Where would Luke have ended up if he never met Yoda? Perhaps the most vital alliance and friendship ever formed in Star Wars.
When it comes to your money and life, the most vital alliance would likely be one with your significant other (not a small creature on a marshy planet).
If you aren’t working in financial conjunction, the galactic journey is going to be one of strife and stress. Financial problems were listed as one of the 7 most common reasons for divorce in a recent Business Insider article.
In my own life, if I wasn’t living in a harmonious alliance with my better half there’s no way our financial goals would be attainable. She’d never support me waking up at 5 am to better our financial situation if we weren’t aligned and operating towards a common purpose.
I’d never have been able to battle my student loans without her alliance.
It’s not useful we’re on the same page with our money, it’s absolutely vital we’re aligned.
Just like Han and Leia that alliance might have some bumpy moments where our ideas clash or our personalities create tension. However, the strength of our bond is only there because of a common purpose.
For Han and Leia that was defeating the evil Empire. In our lives, that common purpose is defeating the constraints trying to hold us back from financial freedom.
Han and Leia had Darth Vader and the Emperor opposing them. We’ve had financial illiteracy and consumerism threatening our financial alliance.
We’ve strengthened our financial alliance by using a few key strategies:
- Honesty: there are no secrets and we’ve been honest from the upfront about every aspect of our finances.
- Flexibility: we create wiggle room in our budget to each have a small discretionary fund to avoid any unnecessary qualms over smaller purchases or things that bring happiness and value.
- Financial Literacy: we both made a commitment to educate ourselves about personal finance through podcasts, books and open discussion with one another.
- Common Goals: aligning on specific goals for the short and long financial term has been another success to help us avoid tension in the alliance.
This has helped us resist the dark side of money.
Together, unified and aligned, you can wield great power and resist the pitfalls that money can bring into your relationship.
Don’t let the dark side break your financial alliance with your significant other.
Your Money Geek
Thrawn knew you could learn from art or the stories people told. Even something as simple as graffiti would reveal to Thrawn details about the Rebels he was pursuing. lessons can be found all around us, not just in popular books and websites, but in comic books, video games, television or even movies.
Many people do not find finance fun or maybe they feel finance needs to be overly serious, however, finance can fun. In fact, I think the best planning happens when we check our preconceptions and judgments at the door, let down our self-defeating defenses and have some fun with our finances.
I would like to thank all the amazing contributors that helped on this post.
Today I am excited to share a Success Story interview with Mark Newbold. Mark is a prolific writer and his work can be seen on all of the best Sci-Fi and Star Wars sites. Writers in any genre could learn from Mark’s success.