When I was a kid (as oppose to the giant kid I seem to be now), everybody who saw Star Wars wanted to be either Han Solo or Darth Vader. But mostly Han Solo. You probably did yourself, you reading this (unless you are female, and then all bets are off). And why? It's because Han Solo is the embodiment of cool.
He's a rake, a rogue, a Byronic hero. He made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs for goodness' sake (more on that later).
So yeah, we all know that Han's a pretty cool guy. I don't have to sell that to you, do I?
But why is Han such a cool guy? I started to outline some points…
And then in the process I realised that I could spin this into some sort of Star Wars self help article (...wait! hear me out!). And from it, we could all find ways to incorporate some of Han's effortless cool into our own styles.
So now you might learn something as well as being entertained (well, I'm trying...)
(OK, I'll try to stop using the word 'cool' now…)
"Never tell me the odds!"
So, the first thing that springs to mind is such skilful indifference. Effortless cool. And I don't mean he's good at being indifferent (though he is). An example to illustrate....
When Han offs Greedo in At The Mos Eisley Cantina, feet up, totally relaxed and deadpan, he shows his aptitude with a blaster. Ice cold, he doesn't think twice. He just tilts his head back, narrowly avoids a shot to the face and puts a hole in the Rodian scumbag. Blam. A bad guy, not so bad any more. No sweat, and no big deal…
Another example; skulking around an imperial battle cruiser or outflying one, Han seems almost bored, yet he executes his manoeuvres with the utmost skill. Improv your way into an Imperial detention centre and then fob off security by shooting the radio up? Why not. It's that irreverent confidence that you can't help but love. Or at least admire. And Han gets away with it, because there is never any doubt that he's goddamn good at what he does (which is in a large way just taking massive, ridiculous risks, and 'winging it' masterfully).
At this, Han's one of the best…
And then of course there's his mercurial character. He's unpredictable. In between extended periods of laconic indifference and that smirking, Han lets loose with powerful outbursts of anger and passion. And blaster fire. What's he gonna do next? We don't know. But we know it's gonna be exciting.
Sure, I guess towards the end he starts to soften his heart towards the Rebel Alliance, amplifying his coolness by doing the right thing. But this doesn't 'reform' him, oh no. If you read some of the Extended Universe novels, even after Han's 'settled down' and had kids with Leia (yup, that happens), he's still doing his thing in the Falcon, with Chewie in tow.
What a guy. No midlife crises here.
And then there's the depth of character. Han's a deep guy. Deep like the Oceans of Kamino. Sure, he may seem tough and uncaring but underneath that perennial smirk you know he really does care for more than just himself (though it does take him a while to 'warm up').
Han never shows too much passion, unlike Luke (who gets kind of annoying with that powerful combination of naivety and self-righteousness; most especially in A New Hope). About to be frozen in carbonite (which is apparently rather painful) Han responds to Leia's outright proclamation of love for him with a dismissive "I know.". And then there's that smirk again.
You look me in the eye and tell me you didn't think that was a damn smooth move.
But one of the biggest reasons we all love Han Solo to the extent that we do is that roguish life of the outlaw smuggler. He's the archetypical renegade. The archetypical free man, living life on his terms.
So I said we'd come back to the Kessel Run and why it's so ballsy...
The Kessel Run
Kessel, if you didn't know, is a dire, dire penal planet. It's covered with strip mines and populated with sullen prisoners, sentenced to digging up the expensive and rare Glitterstim Spice, a potent and extremely rare drug. Close by the planet is a complex system of black holes. And yes, black holes are ultra dangerous.
Solo was one of the few who had the grapes to actually make the Kessel Run, i.e.. fly a course past all of these light-sucking singularities. Except he did it with a cargo of illicit substances, and did it in under 12 parsecs (which is, OK, technically a measurement of distance). Why? to reduce the distance travelled through hyperspace by edging dangerously close to these holes' event horizons. To do it faster.
And as far as stellar cartography goes, that is some reckless behaviour.
So, Han did it. And, after all this, he went for a drink with Chewbacca. Who is also a 'chill guy', 7'5" tall and tends to remove people's arms from their sockets on bad days. And who totally adores Han. Because as we said before, Han's a cool guy.
Summary / conclusion / nutshell
What can we learn from Mr. Solo? Well, I guess in a nutshell... Do your thing and take insane risks, repeatly. Also smirk a lot and eventually do the right thing in spectacular fashion. Be handy with a blaster, and never, ever be predictable.