I was told once to find a public figure to look up to and emulate. There are thousands of influential leaders, artists, musicians and philanthropists to choose from. I found one I could emulate. Anakin was a man who took all that life would throw at him, re-invented himself, succeed and remained humble.
Anakin provides an ideal role model. He was born in poverty and raised by a single mother. Together, they worked like slaves just to make ends meet. He had a knack for mechanics and showed determination in turning his passion into a path out of poverty.
Others saw his potential. Despite the naysayers, he had two mentors who took a specific interest in nurturing him to his fullest potential. They recognized that he brought balance to his career field. He matured and earned the admiration of royalty and senior politicians alike.
A principled man, when confronted by corruption, violations against the rule of law, and a faction resistant to the will of the people, he showed he was a man of action. He protected the elected and pursued those anti-republican forces, prosecuting those he could and driving the rest into hiding. Because of his passion, he pushed away those closest to him. This led to an irreconcilable breakdown of his marriage. We can safely label his relationship with his children “estranged.”
A so-called friend betrayed him and disabled him. His recovery showed that, even though disabled, he could continue to serve the government he risked all to defend. He would not let his disability define him.
Anakin continued to rise through the government bureaucracy: going from a poor urchin to royalty. When given a dauntless task of eradicating those rebelling against the elected government, he time-and-again proved himself more than capable. When asked to take on a massive government works project and get it back on schedule, he leveraged his diplomacy and zeal to ensure it was ready to go into production when needed. He showed his humility in setting the goals of others, especially those of his friend Palpatine, above his own.
Through this all, he still tried to find time for his children. Showing his high adaptability, he re-invented himself yet again and re-earned the affection of at least one of his children, a decision that pitted him against a career. He realized that family mattered more, seeking to draw his son into the family business. Even in death he showed humility and forwent the pomp and circumstance one would expect of a senior government official; his funeral was more in line with his humble beginnings.
So inspiring was his life—being forced to re-invent himself several times, overcoming physical disabilities—that his grandson set his achievements as the standard he would pursue.
In hearing his life’s story, one cannot help but question why his achievements are pilloried today. Some assert that he was too aggressive, that rather than work with coalitions he cut through his competition, and that he was all-too-often impatient with his subordinates and unwilling to listen to empty excuses. Those who question his greatness cannot consider that those who are bold are often criticized. Success breeds contempt.
I, however, recognize his unflappable determination to succeed and willingness to pivot when necessary to take on life’s next challenge. I hope in reading this, you may also see the greatness of Anakin Skywalker.