A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

01 July 2009

Life Lessons from the Movies, episode 1

Legally Blonde was on TV last night. I have seen this film more times than I'd care to admit, and if you haven't, I recommend it. It is not high art, but it is cute and funny and charming, and embeds some valuable lessons in its story.

(I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum.)

One of the key themes in this movie is misjudgment. Many of the characters are not what they at first appear to be. The protagonist in particular, a fluffy blonde sorority girl from L.A., turns out to be a caring, thoughtful, keenly intelligent and principled person who changes the lives of several of the other characters. The sidekicks become heroes and the romantic lead gets kicked to the curb. The snobbish prep school ice queen gets sent out for the coffee, and the clumsy comic relief gets credited with giving the star "the greatest pleasure I've ever known."

So what's the life lesson? Misjudgment comes in every flavor, and that goes double in the work place. If you work in an office with more than 50 other people, odds are there's at least one person in each of these categories:
  • One climbing the corporate ladder who doesn't care whose head they step on
  • One accused of that, who in reality is struggling to provide for a family and needs that promotion desperately
  • One who seems shy but in reality just needs someone to reach out to them
  • One who is not shy but who prefers to work alone and avoid work friendships
  • One who gossips about everybody
  • One who hates being in that gossipy conversation but is afraid to stand up to the gossip
  • One who has a fantastic idea that would make the office run better, but whose opinion is never sought
  • One whose opinion is sought constantly but whose ideas are rarely useful
  • One whom everyone pretends to like because of their position, but who isn't very nice
  • One whom nobody likes, who would be a fast friend if given the chance
How would your office environment be different if everyone felt comfortable and safe to be who they really are? How would fully understanding, respecting and trusting all of your coworkers change the way you work? How would the people in your company treat customers differently if they felt fully appreciated and empowered by that respect and trust? How might your business get better bottom-line results if you could consciously create that kind of workplace?

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