What George Lucas Taught Me about Bad Bargains (and How to Avoid Them)

Nerd confession time:

When we were in 4th grade, my friends and I got into Star Wars cards.  Really into Star Wars cards.

We spent our recesses orchestrating trades complicated enough to make Roger Goodell blush.

One day, my friend pulled off the steal of the century:

R2-D2 . . . for a measly little X-Wing!

Admittedly, he’d taken advantage of another friend who was new to the game to pull this off.

Parents got involved, my friend had to return his ill-gotten gains, and our sidewalk deals deteriorated.  We eventually found ourselves back on the soccer fields.

Why am I telling you this?  Because you’re probably trading R2-D2s for X-Wings every day… without even knowing it.  You’ve been getting bad bargains.


You might have degrees and specialized knowledge.  You probably have experience dealing with coworkers and navigating the sharktank of corporate politics.

Those things are your capital.  They’re assets you own that help you earn a living.  You don’t use them up.

But earning a paycheck in a 9-5 requires your butt to be in the office.  It requires you to trade your time for money.

There isn’t anything wrong with that.  Making money requires time and effort.  Even an alchemist has to take a few minutes to transmute base metals into gold.

The problem is most people’s numbers suck.

They trade five days each week for two days to do whatever you like . . .

That’s a return of a negative 40%!

How long do you think a fund manager (with the exception of Bernie Madoff) would stay in business producing those kinds of stellar returns?

Better yet, try to give a two year-old 2 animal crackers for 5 and see how far you get.  See if she thinks she’s getting a great deal.

You know a 5 for 2 trade is a fundamentally raw deal in every other aspect of your life.

So why is the “employment trade” the only one immune from scrutiny?

Ask someone, anyone why this is.  Ask yourself if you want to.  I bet you won’t be satisfied with the answer you hear.  They’ll be some type of variation of: Because that’s just the way things are… 

What if you could invest in the skills you need to turn yourself into a money-generating machine and give yourself a better roll?  Better numbers.

What if you could give yourself the ability to engage in more meaningful work?  Maybe even find financial and location freedom?  The chance to make an impact on millions.

If you want to keep trading away the world’s most lovable droid for x-wings, that’s your prerogative.  But at least do so willingly, after a little introspection.

Caveat emptor.

P.S. I know this came off as a rant, and that’s because I’ve been upset with myself about this lately.  Anyways, feel free to leave me a comment about this and I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Can you think of any other aspects of life where accepting bad bargains has become the norm?  I’m curious to know!