A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, some of science fiction’s greatest legends were doing something that many well-drawn characters do: they were teaching my clients about attributes.
If you’re not already familiar with attributes—the unique, natural strengths that we all have but don’t necessarily value as we ought—I would encourage you to read a quick story about flying squirrels before you continue.
When I do a seminar on attributes, I usually explore the important skill of listening for revelation. This is the act of tuning into what others reveal about their own attributes when they speak—what their words and actions show us about who they are and what type of personality they have.
It’s a learned skill. And like any skill, it gets better with practice.
Picture Show Practice
Listening for revelation is an incredibly powerful and important way to better understand the people around you, but it can be hard to get started. As we perfect the skill, it’s important to practice continually, testing out our ability to ask the right questions and tune into what the responses really show us about the speaker.
Movies are one great way to get this practice.
Well-written characters are round and realistic, so they have their own attribute profiles, just like human beings. Which means that if we tune into a strong character from a book, movie, or TV show, we can tease out insights into his or her strengths and motivating forces.
It’s a fun and safe way to practice your listening for revelation skills before applying this trick in real life.
Written in the Star Wars
If you’ve been alive for the last few months, you’ve probably been hearing about Star Wars. So I thought it would be fun to try guessing at some of these favorite characters’ power-alley traits. (But I avoided the dark side, because I would never want to give the impression that any attributes are “bad.” There’s no such thing!)
Many of you are familiar with the attributes terms I use, but even if you aren’t, these explanations should help clarify any unfamiliar terminology. Nonetheless, if you’d like to look at a list of traits and descriptions before you try this yourself, just get in touch.
Yoda shows a high Developer attribute. He’s an encourager, mentor, and teacher. He facilitates teamwork and focuses on others achieving their goals, working behind the curtain to accomplish objectives.
Princess Leia: Communicator
This brave royal shows many signs of a strong Communicator attribute. She is good at speaking with others and tends to be very effective in getting her point across. She teaches, inspires, and desires to be understood.
Detailed, organized, and consistent, C-3PO shows many characteristics of the classic Orderly. He attempts to arrange outcomes and is drawn to stability, predictability, and precision.
Han Solo: Creator
Princess Leia: “What are you doing? You’re not actually going into an asteroid field?”
Han Solo: “They’d be crazy to follow us, wouldn’t they?”
Princess Leia: “You don’t have to do this to impress me.”
C-3PO: “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.”
Han Solo: “Never tell me the odds!”
A classic Creator quote from a great character who shows many signs of this risk-tolerant attribute. Han Solo is impatient, spontaneous, acts quickly on new ideas, and is inspired to create change. In a nutshell, he’s a let’s try it guy.
Luke Skywalker: Learner
Luke Skywalker loves to learn. He stores history and has a strong intellectual curiosity, frequently asking questions and seeking to expand his understanding of a subject like the Force. Where Han Solo is action oriented, Skywalker is information oriented, which is typical of the Learner, who wants to know more than he wants to do.
I love this example, because it shows how much information and communication happens beyond the spoken word. Without using a language we speak, Chewie still shows a wealth of clues to his Relational trait. He listens to others, relates to them, is sensitive to their feelings, and cares for the hurt. Pure empathy, pure Relational.
I encourage you to try your hand at this, and give this book a read if you’re ready to learn more about attributes. I’d love to hear your insights. May the Force be with you.