Women leading women

Inspired by movies? 4 takeaways for business and life

What’s that thing about coaching books, blogs, and speeches? It feels so good when you turn the pages or listen, your spirits high, your mind set on winning as you are definitely going to start a new life or a new business on Monday. But then it’s Monday and nothing happens. So what can you do if you’re desperate for that big change but just can’t start? What’s wrong with you?

To begin with: nothing’s wrong with you.

What they never teach us at school, at home, or in self-help books for that matter, is that life is actually terrifying. Life is huge. We are small.

All our comforting, put-in-order shelves where we tuck things away are nothing but labels. All our bad habits – hoarding, procrastinating, insert your favourite – are only workarounds designed to protect us from big, terrifying things. And deep inside, we know it. And while we set up that great inspirational board on Pinterest or binge tweet amazing quotes from this world’s brightest minds, in our own lives, we sometimes find we’re not actually doing anything to move ourselves forward. We become frozen.

How can we, in a world that’s far from perfect, dare to do something big? It’s. So. Terrifying.

The well-known secret is: all things start small. This rule applies to entrepreneurs, blue chip companies, and even to the universe which is awe-inspiringly huge and mysterious. But what unites you and the universe is that both of you started very, very small. And do you remember, how eager you were to learn as a child. And look at you now: today you can walk, talk, read and hold a spoon! 🙂 Do you remember the time when these things were huge? But you weren’t afraid.

Why were you unafraid? How could you, as a toddler be a badass with the attitude “this world is huuuuuuge, I need to explore it”?

Because it’s natural.

So don’t let fear cramp your learning-and-exploring-muscle. All you need to start a change is really to… relax.

Good.

And now that you’re relaxed, let’s get back to learning and exploring – and have a movie night! Why, you ask? Well, what’s safer than that, enjoying a flick or two and getting some inspiration to move us forward as a bonus? So here we go!

1. PAY IT FORWARD (2000)

pay-it-forwardYour kind of movie if you liked:  Dead Poets Club, As Good As It Gets.

Story:  Helen Hunt, Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment star in this drama based on the eponymous novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde making the “how we’re all connected” belief, a heart-warming journey. “Pay it forward” is a philosophy that asks for completing a good deed for a third person, instead of paying a favour back; it can apply to deeds or monetary loans. A similar concept is called alternative giving – when you give money to a charity in the name of the presentee, most recently coming to life at the Royal Wedding: Kate Middleton and Prince William asked the guests to use the wedding gift money for charities instead.

Movie quote: What did you ever do to change the world?

Main takeaway for life:

Here’s a bitter sip of truth: people normally don’t care about you. But they are immediately interested if they see that you offer something good for them – help them, entertain them, save them time and/or money.

Main takeaway for business:

It can’t be stressed enough – your business is not really about you; it’s about other people’s needs. Be useful, and they will like you. Build your service, your product, your business around a solution to people’s problems. Give them something good and useful.

And later, when you succeeded? Don’t forget to help young entrepreneurs as their mentor.

Notable Quotes:

Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service. (Henry Ford)

I think it’s very important that whatever you’re trying to make or sell, or teach, has to be basically good. A bad product and you know what? You won’t be here in ten years. (Martha Stewart)

2. ONE WEEK (2008)one week

Your kind of movie if you like motorcycle films and movies like: The Bucket List, Now Is Good.

Story:  Set in the picturesque Canadian summer, this uncommon motorbike movie follows one (hell of a) week in the life of Ben (played by Joshua Jackson), a young teacher who’s unexpectedly diagnosed with an aggressive terminal illness. Despite the sadness of the story, there is a lot of light-heartedness in his spontaneous motorbike journey and a set of other spontaneous decisions as he decides to be ultimately true to himself because, clearly, there’s nothing to lose anymore. We don’t know if Ben makes it or not in the end, but it’s the achievement of his long-forgotten dream that the movie’s about.

Movie quote: How different things might have been for Ben had his day-dreaming been able to continue. Had he believed praise when he heard it, and had he decided, against all hope, to send his manuscript to Harper Collins.

Main takeaway for life:

Don’t wait for the “if you had one week to live” scenario. Learn to say no to things that don’t make you happy – a relationship based on conventions and commodities, a secure but dull job that leads nowhere. Go for what makes your heart beat stronger!

You only got so much time and possibly only this one life, so don’t waste it on things that don’t take you another step further on your personal journey. It hurts to admit if you’re stuck – but it will hurt more with time running out.

Main takeaway for business:

Don’t get distracted. Focus on what you love doing, focus on your main goals and do what’s good for you, not for somebody else. Don’t try to please everybody, either: it’s your business; it’s your decision. Just make sure you can make a good one.

Notable Quotes:

(T)he only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. (Steve Jobs)

A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts. (Richard Branson)

3. THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)the-king-s-speech

Story:  King George VI (Colin Firth) stutters. Seemingly nobody can provide real help until Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) finds him a very successful, if eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who neither has a formal qualification, nor a penchant for subserviency. We hold our breath as the King learns to have a voice…

But there’s a subtler lesson in this movie. There’s the authenticity, the bravery and the self-reliance of the Geoffrey Rush character whose unorthodox methods often on the edge of proper behaviour make him a confidant and a friend to the King himself – because his methods work, he doesn’t need to dazzle nor to court.

Movie quote:

Lionel Logue: Please don’t smoke. I believe sucking cigarette smoke into your lungs will kill you.

King George VI: I need to relax. My physicians say it relaxes the throat.

Lionel Logue: They’re idiots.

King George VI: They’ve all been knighted.

Lionel Logue, sarcastically: Makes it official then.

Main takeaway for life:

Be true to who you are. Take the experts’ opinions with a grain of salt. Don’t be blinded by the musts and the what-will-people-say-s.

Main takeaway for business:

No matter what’s state-of-the-art in your industry: you can make it if your solution (service, product) is excellent, no matter what the rules say. Be who you are, and act accordingly.

Notable Quotes:

I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism and sexism and that’s how I operate my life. (Oprah Winfrey)

Just be true to yourself, and listen as much as one is able to other people whose opinions you respect and look up to, but in the end it has to come from you. You can’t really worry too much by looking to the left and the right about what the competition is doing or what other people in your field are doing. It has to be a true vision. (Anna Wintour)

4. JAMES BOND 007 – SKYFALL (2012)james-bond-007-skyfall-teaser

Your kind of movie if you liked: Bond franchise, obviously.

Story:  Do you remember the time in 2010 when rumour had it, there would possibly be no more Bond films any more? The financial crisis didn’t spare major production companies, and so an incredible amount of money and more than four years of work from the producers was needed to make the last Bond happen.

But it wasn’t solely the financial focus – the story needed a turn as well. Daniel Craig is reported to have wished to bring the Bond humour back into his character; something we missed since Casino Royale. The director Sam Mendes suggested killing a beloved character, bringing back an almost forgotten one, as well as creating an old-fashioned, remarkable Bond-villain. A Fleming-expert scriptwriter helped staying true to the Bond core themes. The result: Skyfall is praised as one of the best 007 adventures ever by audience and critics.

Movie quote:

James Bond: Everyone needs a hobby…

Raoul Silva (the old-fashioned villain): So what’s yours?

James Bond: Resurrection.

Main takeaway for life:

If something fails, don’t be ashamed. First: People are too worried with their own lives and projects to really take notice. Second: You earn both respect and experience for standing up and going on, so embrace failure as an opportunity to grow! Third: Sometimes things only seem to fail – try a change of perspective.

Main takeaway for business:

Things can and most importantly they will go wrong at some point. Being afraid to look closely at the failures only deprives you of a lesson for the future. Everybody fails – the only other option is do nothing at all. Don’t give up too soon: give yourself a chance to mend things as you go. Learn from your mistakes and put genuine effort into your next endeavour.

Notable Quotes:

Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again. (Richard Branson)

I always did something I was a little ‘not ready to do’. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. (Marissa Mayer)

So what’s your learning take-away from all of these great movies?

You should face the desired change naturally, and patiently. Get yourself in the playful, relaxed mood of a movie-goer, set your mind on thinking like a child – the world is a big place and you are allowed to explore everything.

Then actually try bit by bit all those things you learned from trainings, and books, and workshops. Learn and play, just like when you were a kid. Explore the possibilities, and discover the opportunities. Be gentle to yourself. If the most successful people on Earth tell you to find your calling, and to take your time doing it, as well as to actually ‘do’ something – how wrong can it be?

Have you learnt great lessons from movies or watching a drama unfold – let us know in the comments below!

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2 Comments
  1. Trisha Proud says

    Yes I amways really inspired by movies. I love to measure life and business experiences “in film”, in fact one of my last blogs looks at the “Pretty Woman Effect” or in other words how not to judge people on first impressions. I hope you enjoy the read!
    http://trishaproudsoulmate.wordpress.com
    Trisha Proud – author of “Soulmate”
    Managing Partner
    Partners in Solutions Ltd

  2. sonia calvo says

    Great blog. My takeaway is life can be short and finding who you are, what you want and how you want to be are vital. For me, discovering all of me, the good and the bad and learning how to love myself, is the first step. When you can do that, you can claim your space, speak up, be seen and heard. Finding your passion, your element, your bliss, your life purpose is amazing and it’s not about the end result but the journey. That’s where the magic happens and it all seems to fit into place. And i totally agree it’s small steps that will get you there. I work with women who want to be leaders of their own life and it’s like flying when you witness someone claiming their space and truly loving themselves.