This article originally appeared at Forbes.com
As the closing credits of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" began rolling, members of the audience started to cheer.
It wasn’t the first time either. "Star Wars" as a franchise has filled our souls with hope for decades — hope that good always triumphs evil. And, maybe even more, hope that we get to see people rise to their potential.
It’s true, the movie is set “in a galaxy far far away,” but there seem to be four real-life lessons that we could all benefit from right here on planet earth, and in our own place of business.
Don’t stop at good. Aim for great
There’s no doubt that George Lucas struck gold with the original "Star Wars" trilogy — the films were based on a solid story, created a legion of loyal fans and earned a spot in the fantasy cannon for decades to come.
But Lucas didn’t stop at good enough. He kept working to create and release movies that would resonate with the next generation. Although some critics don’t feel that his follow-up work compared to the original trilogy, there’s no denying that Lucas had a consistent drive to grow and improve the franchise by giving more depth to the story and the characters. At Lucas’ retirement, a little company named Disney saw a vision for something bigger and bought the entire franchise, giving way to expand the "Star Wars" universe with stories like "Rogue One."
That is a lesson we all can learn from. When you create something good, give yourself a pat on the back. Then, don’t stop. Don’t let your momentum idle. Keep innovating, improving and working toward greatness. Research shows that most great work comes from continuous improvement, alteration and feedback loops. And going from good to great will help your work deliver a difference and wow your audience — regardless of your position or industry.
Find your force and trust in it
All "Star Wars" fans know about the "Force." It empowers strength, wit, wisdom and courage. And it’s what keeps our heroes going when everything else fails.
Although it sounds a bit far-fetched, finding a force of your own is both simple and crucial. You’ve got to know what drives you. What helps you get out of bed in the morning? What fuels long nights spent working on difficult projects? Finding your force means figuring out the bigger reason and purpose behind why you do what you do.
Some soul-searching can help you discover an answer. Once you know your force, write it down and frame it somewhere you will see it daily. Then, trust it. In a recent interview with Stephen M.R. Covey, author of "The Speed of Trust", trusting yourself is the first step toward building successful relationships, teams, cultures and companies.
Don’t forget where you came from
The recent passing of Carrie Fischer gave the film a haunting sense of reality that a great piece of work can define your future. Realize that Fischer, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and James Earl Jones weren’t very well known in the acting profession when they were hired for the original "Star Wars" film. But they had to start somewhere as we all do.
Reflect on your career. Or take a glimpse at your resume. Most likely you not only have listed your work experience, but also your highest achievements. Recall the moments and stories of your career that make you proud of what you’ve accomplished. Remember the impact you made on someone, or some group of people. These are the instances that not only reveal where you came from, but also how you rose within your field. In fact, research shows that people who produce award-winning work share certain skills, but only one intention — to make a difference someone else loves.
It’s easy for any of us to get carried away imagining the great things we’ll accomplish in the future. But, it’s important as leaders to realize the power we have to influence greatness in others.
We love "Star Wars" movies because we love cheering for the underdog. We love to see people climb to reach their potential and overcome obstacles. As leaders, we have the responsibility to do the same at work. We need to cheer for the people on our teams — not only because it’s our job as leaders, but because it’s the one thing research shows inspires employees the most. Recognition inspires hope — that all possibilities are within our reach.
A scene from the film might explain the power of hope better than we can. Captain Raymus Antilles enters a room. “Your Highness, the transmission we received. What is it they've sent us?” Princess Leia Organa simply responds with one powerful word, “Hope.” It wasn’t just a message that was received. It was something far more powerful.
Just because the "Star Wars" galaxy is a fantasy world, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impart key life lessons for us too. Use these simple but powerful lessons to empower great work in 2017 and far far beyond.
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom work with the O.C. Tanner Institute. Learn more about The New York Times bestseller "Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love" (McGraw-Hill) at www.greatwork.com.