Don't let this be a distraction
Director Orson Krennic, Angela Merkel and dressing for the job
This Halloween I fulfilled a three-year-long quest of being Director Orson Krennic of Star Wars: Rogue One. Complete with the pressed white tunic, rank bars, black gloves, knee-high boots, and a flowing cape…it felt good to be the head of the Death Star project for a few hours. Long story short, I ordered the cape nearly three years ago. Supply chain issues and manufacturing disruptions kept me from having the full glory of this Imperial uniform realized. My wife (on the right) is very funny and decided to also be Krennic. Double trouble!
For you Star Wars fans out there, maybe you never thought about this….but did you realize that Director Krennic in Rogue One is the only Imperial officer fans have ever seen donning a cape?
It’s not part of the standard uniform within the Empire. They tend to dress like a standard German or Russian officer of the World War II era. Very straightforward. Capes and cloaks are a Jedi thing, a Vader thing, and far more common amongst the political elite in the Star Wars universe.
Director Krennic, however, has a chip on his shoulder. Something you can learn about his background is that Krennic was not exactly an intergalactic trust fund kid on track toward the Imperial hierarchy by birth or his family name. No, he’s from the boonies of the galaxy. Whereas the average Imperial officer speaks with a flamboyant British accent, a marker of their education and “big city” sophistication, Krennic speaks with a slummy Australian accent. Backwater British, if you will. As he rose through the Imperial ranks by way of raw grit, his counterparts knew he was not “one of them.”
He was no Ivy Leaguer. He went to a state school. If you catch my drift.
And so, the cape. Director Orson Krennic, because he does not handle this class self-consciousness with grace, wears a cape with his uniform. Very old school. A relic of a bygone era to the Empire’s elite. Officers who understand modern sensibilities scoff at Krennic behind his back. Think Donald Trump, actually. You may remember some of the commentaries in recent years about Trump’s tacky fixation on gold accessories and designs for his hotels. It’s “what poor people think being rich looks like.” I saw this rhetoric often in elite liberal media outlets, this sort of disdain for a guy who is rich but doesn’t care to be rich in a “respectable” way.
And so too with Krennic. He is a nobody from nowhere making a name for himself in the Empire. Doing acts of evil, to be clear….he’s leading the construction of the Death Star. And yet all his peers can talk about is Krennic’s flamboyance, pettiness, and how easily distracted he is by appearances.
Don’t be like this. People can tell when you’re compensating for something.
I’m reading Ryan Holiday’s new book, Discipline is Destiny, which contains a funny series of anecdotes about German stateswoman, Angela Merkel. She’s always had a reputation for being….sort of plain.
Merkel grew up in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Needless to say, you didn’t have fashion options on the communist side of Germany. People dressed simply - because they had to. As Merkel moved through German politics after the Soviet Union, she got all sorts of advice on how to upgrade her appearance. She once said to a reporter who asked why she always wore the same beige pantsuit, “I’m a public servant, not a model.”
She was savvy and knew what she was doing. Merkel was cultivating a brand and sticking to what felt comfortable to her at the same time. Her clothing was never a distraction to her, to her peers, or to her work. Merkel bought discount clothes, wore comfortable athletic shoes in formal settings, kept the same boxish haircut, and kept things simple. There was a joke in German political circles. “What does Merkel do with her old clothes?….She wears them.” (Hardy-har-har…..very funny)
Now. I think it’s great to dress in a way that makes you feel great. Wearing the Krennic cape on Halloween, I got a little dose of that cape-induced ego fuel. But there’s a big difference between dressing up because it makes you feel good, and dressing up because you feel bad about who you are without the clothes or the jewelry or the watch or the shoes.
In the last year, I’ve done dozens of media trainings for clients getting ready to go on TV. They always ask about what they should wear. The answer is always the same. You want people focused on your words, not on what’s dangling from your ears or the wild pattern on your tie. Have fun but never at the expense of your message.
Strive for simplicity in your life. It opens up space for you to focus on important things and exert energy on more valuable enterprises beyond getting dressed every day.
Maybe you want people to talk about your clothes. But if you’re a reader of This Is The Way, I bet you want people to be talking about your deeds.
Keep it simple. This is the way.
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