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Three career lessons you can learn from Captain Picard

Patrick Stewart
Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Star Trek: The Next Generation featured one of TV's most iconic leaders, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. His antics aboard the Enterprise were entertaining, no doubt, but there is also much to be learned from his leadership style and career experience. Here are three life lessons Captain Picard drove home every week that can be taken out of the Star Trek universe to help you advance in your career.

Obey the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive is a point of debate among Star Trek fans, but one thing is for sure: Captain Picard stuck to it, word for word. Your Prime Directive will probably differ greatly from the Federation's, but the important take-away here is to develop a strict code of ethics and stick to your guns. Picard often had to make compromising decisions on the fly, and having a clear set of ideals helped him stay the course. Find out what you want out of your career and decide now where you'll draw your lines in the sand. Your Prime Directive could include a set maximum number of hours you're willing to work per week in order to maintain work/life balance or a minimum dollar amount you'll need to make to support your lifestyle. Whatever it turns out to be for you and your career, the important thing is to commit to it and use it as a guide to weigh career options against. It will make making the tough decisions (whether or not to leave a job, take a new job, go out for a promotion, etc.) a lot easier in the long-run.

Trust Your Number One

Commander William Riker was Picard's second in command and the bearded voice of reason on many Star Trek episodes. He wasn't always perfect, but he was often invaluable to missions and got his captain out of sticky situations on numerous occasions. Though it might be tough to find another Riker, you can still apply the idea of a Number One to your career. As happenings on board the Enterprise showed, Picard owes a lot of his success to having a trusted team. There is a lot in your career that you won't be able to do alone, so find your Number One! This can come in the form of a supportive spouse, a trustworthy direct report, or a mentor; no matter who your Number One is, rest assured that you will need support and guidance to be a success in your career.

Find Time for the Holodeck

Picard was nothing if not a dedicated captain, but he still managed to find time to enjoy himself on the holodeck. He could often be found passing time in one of his favored detective stories. Though the holodeck did, on occasion, malfunction with dire consequences, chances are good that whatever you do to relax won't have quite so many bugs to work out. Though time on the holodeck might appear to be mere play time to some, it actually served to make Captain Picard a more well-rounded leader, giving him new ideas for strategies and an outlet to work out problems in his own life. The holodeck is also where he formed lasting bonds with his crew, enabling them to work better as a cohesive team. It doesn't matter much what your personal holodeck looks like, the important thing is to make sure that you develop interests outside of your career in order to avoid getting tunnel vision. Sometimes the best career inspiration can come from an unrelated book. You might be able to avoid burn-out by relaxing with a video game once in awhile. Perhaps you need a little creative inspiration that could be gleaned from watching an episode or two of Star Trek. Whatever your holodeck simulation looks like, it will serve to make you more interesting and versatile, which in turn will help you build relationships and avoid burn-out as you work towards captaining your very own Enterprise!

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