I teased a friend about watching the movie Airplane! If you have somehow missed this movie, filled with cringe-worthy humor and ridiculous gags, then you are missing some great one-liners to use in everyday life. When someone says, “Surely you are not serious”, the classic retort from the movie is “I am serious – and don’t call me Shirley.” It is not the kind of movie that I would watch more than once a decade. It is not my cup of tea. Absolutely do not watch it with your children, no matter how old they are.
A few days later, I told my friend that I was watching The Avengers. She immediately said, “You harassed me about watching Airplane!, and you are watching The Avengers?” Fair point. I thought about it for a minute and then said, “It doesn’t have potty humor or drug references.” Which is true. The Avengers are pretty clean cut.
However, the next movie that I watched was Guardians of the Galaxy. It has potty humor and drug references. And it’s not the first time that I have watched Guardians of the Galaxy. I own it. I’ve watched it a dozen or more times.
So, hmmmm. What is the difference between Airplane! and Guardians of the Galaxy? An even better question is why am I writing about it in a leadership blog? There is a method to my madness.
As leaders, it’s important that we are clear on the ruler that we use to judge things. Our ruler is made up of our values and priorities. We want to know and be reassured that what we say is important to us is truly important to us. Self-awareness is the first part of emotional intelligence. We can’t lead well if we don’t know ourselves well. We can check in on our values on something as superficial as movie preferences.
So why do I like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy and not Airplane!? Any guesses? Here’s what I think. In both The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, good is fighting evil. Granted, the Guardians wander around a bit in a morally gray area but stand up in the end and do what is right. I like the idea of good triumphing over evil. It’s an old storyline, but I am comforted when those on the moral high ground win, especially when they win for others and not just themselves.
I believe that great leaders are servant leaders – people who use their talents and power to help others. So, yes. My choice in movies reflects my values. The struggle of good v. evil also draws me to the Harry Potter books and movies.
The other thing that I like about the Avengers, the Guardians, and the gang at Hogwarts is that they each are a team. They work together for a common purpose. There is a definite sense of camaraderie and affection. When the chips are down, they always have each others’ backs. I like that.
Loyalty and teamwork are important leadership qualities. We cannot lead unless we care about and support the people around us. We cannot succeed ourselves unless we make sure everyone else succeeds, too.
My choices in movies don’t always reflect my values. I went through a John Wick period for a while that reflected my life circumstances and events more than my values. However, figuring that out was a huge leap in self-awareness.
Awareness is just the first step. Once we have brought a decision to a conscious level, we can decide what to do about it. I decided just to enjoy John Wick’s violent expression of anger. I did and got tired of it; then life moved on. Now I’m back to watching the Avengers, Guardians, and wizards who live the lives I want to emulate.
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