Lessons From The Movies (Part 4)
This multi-part entry continues with some classics. Movies seem to be universal, so it is no surprise that we can pull many lessons from the characters we see on the screen. Hopefully the lessons resonate.
- The Apartment: “Normally, it takes years to work your way up to the twenty-seventh floor. But it only takes 30 seconds to be out on the street again. You dig?” — J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) explains to C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) during a conversation in which Baxter attempts to set his boss straight. In the quote from this 1960 film, cuts right to the core of a very important lesson. Reputations take a lifetime to build and can be ruined in the matter of moments (the same can be said about trust). There are countless examples of this from Tiger Woods to Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Be mindful of how your actions and the words you say translate to people’s’ opinions about you, and when you do make it up to the 27th floor remember the long path it took to get there and protect the image you have built.
- Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope): “No reward is worth this!” — complains Han Solo (Harrison Ford), not long after he told Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher): “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.” I say this as George Lucas is re-releasing the whole series in 3D (who in my mind continually looks for ways to cash in on these films again and again and again… which is both smart and absurd). You will find people who are only in things for the money (reference Office Space) and will push to get as much as they can. At the same time, there is a certain value you bring to your company that you should be paid accordingly for. This is where the real money lies for you. Find ways to build your unique value for the group. Foster new relationships and get additional training which will be useful in reaching your goals. This equates to extra leverage when it comes time to negotiate your salary.
- Star Wars (Episode 5: Empire Strikes Back): “Do or do not, there is no try.” — the famous words of Yoda. This quote here is a HUGE one for my personally. There is no state of TRYing. You either do something or you do not. You either reach your goal or you fall short. Many people use the concept of TRYing to make themselves feel better about failing. Be real with yourself. Admit when you fail and celebrate when you succeed. If you allow yourself to “try” to accomplish something it strings the goal out over a longer period of time and can lead to inaction. Listen to Yoda, you must. Do, and succeed you will.
- Cool Runnings: “The driver has to work harder than anyone. He’s the first to show up, and the last to leave. When his buddies are all out drinking beer, he’s up in his room studying pictures of turns.” — says Coach Irv (John Candy) to the team. The driver is very similar to the role of a manager in the corporate world. The role is not always glamorous. Being a manager is not all about giving orders and kicking back. Even when someone is not doing their job, their manager must make sure the job gets done somehow and then they must document all the coaching they provided the underperforming employee (yeah for paperwork!). Plus as a manager pressure comes from two directions, not just one. Pressure comes from both the people they manage and their boss. The book One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey offers a great analogy of this. (include a URL reference)
- Miracle: “You think you can win on talent alone? Gentlemen, you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.” — Coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) tells team USA before their game against the Russians. Team USA beating the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics was a pivotal moment, not only in the history of American sport but also in the Cold War. The lesson here is that skill alone will not lead to victory; desire is an essential ingredient. In my opinion, one valid definition of success is:
Passion x Skills = Success
Given that this is a multiplication equation, if either Passion or Skills is zero then Success would be zero. Skills without passion does not equal success. Although, if you have passion for something you will have the drive to build skill (which is the secret to this success equation). You don’t always have to be the best to succeed, hard work and determination is often the difference.
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