Having seen Rogue One with my kids, it was interesting to reflect on what made it such compelling viewing. Of course, as a child that grew up with the first Star Wars trilogy, this presented an opportunity to fill in another piece of the narrative. But I knew ‘why’ the protagonists were going about their adventure, and, having some working knowledge of the plot could reasonably assume ‘what’ they were pursuing!

It was ‘how’ they went about the pursuit of their objectives that made the story interesting. The relationships between the characters, their evolution through the film and how each of them met their fate, good, bad or otherwise!

In my view, it is this ‘how’ of all that unfolds around us that offers the fulfilment and richness of life. This where how we want to be treated and treat others plays out in the pursuit of our interests and undertaking of actions that carry us to our goals, be it in a work or personal setting.

In a year that has waxed and waned with personal and professional momentum, I have found that beyond calls for authenticity has sat great reward in dealing with clients, associates and friends in a way that has sought to reflect how I want to be treated. One shouldn’t infer universal success on my part, however, I do believe that the most successful basis for the breadth and depth of relationships forged through life is working through how we carry ourselves and communicate our interests to those around us. At the very least we are likely to be heard and in being heard (and by extension feeling appreciated) there may lay a path to a respectful basis of communication and sharing of experiences that increases the chance of each other’s interests being appreciated and common ground being found. At the very least, such communicative behaviours may lead to respectful disagreement and a basis to return to matters in the future.

A recent observation arising from the concept of relationship is an emerging trend of an assumption of ‘transactional’ relationships. Indeed, there are many instances where relationships may well be once only or infrequent, for example drivers sharing the road. However I have sensed this transactional mentality moving into forums where long term relationships need to be forged in the interests of both parties. Of course, this sort of disconnect is observed with young children, where the ‘immediate gain’ takes precedence over any longer term interests – a trait that I am sure I am not alone in dealing with!

Where do such behaviours belong in corporate life? Certainly not within organisations, where relationships amongst staff who need to have a shared vision or purpose and a clear need to be able to work in dynamic circumstances with a level of trust in each other. However, I have observed an emerging trend where external partnerships are being sought yet in the forging of these relationships (through discussions and typically then through contract), aspects of ‘how’, or behaviour between parties, can sow seeds of confusion or mistrust. This increases the potential for decay to set into the foundations of long term partnerships.

In its simplest, and possibly ‘most harmless’ form, it is the missing of deadlines, a glib email or misconstrued remark on matters at hand. However as such ‘harmless’ seeds are sown, behaviours start to misalign with intentions and interests and these moments become points of reflection and confusion. Classically, this might be summarised as ‘actions speak louder than words’ but I would contend that it is in fact the words that are the action, or could offer insight into how future actions may arise.

So as the team from Rogue One go about pursuing their ‘why’, and whilst it is an action film, it may be worth reflecting on ‘how’ the various characters pursue their interests and the impacts this has.