News has almost become synonymous with negativity, and it seems that we sometimes fail to appreciate small instances of light. This is where animation movies should inspire you more.
1. Kung Fu Panda – Po and His Father
“Po’s Father: The secret ingredient is… nothing!
Po’s Father: You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.
Po: Wait, wait… it’s just plain old noodle soup? You don’t add some kind of special sauce or something?
Po’s Father: Don’t have to. To make something special you just have to believe it’s special.
*Po looks at the scroll again, and sees his reflection in it*
Po: There is no secret ingredient…”
Kung Fu Panda not only provides simple comedy that anyone can enjoy, but also packs some very important lessons. The conversation above occurs towards the climax; Po, finding himself incapable of protecting his city against an intruder (Tai-Lung, a vicious snow leopard…), has lost a lot of confidence. As Po is leaving, his father chooses to reveal an age-old secret – the secret to his secret ingredient noodle soup. It turns out there is no secret ingredient. As the quote reads, the soup is “just plain old noodle soup”. All along, Po thought he needed some special powers to protect the city. This conversation, however, makes him realize that he never needed special powers – the strength within was enough to achieve great things.
Oftentimes in the professional world, we think that we must have the perfect idea, something no one else has ever thought of, to progress. We invest our time trying to drill down on this “secret ingredient”, without realizing that the time could be better invested by simply developing ourselves and focusing on the strengths we already have. A little trust and confidence in yourself can take you a long way, and it may even help you protect your city against a vicious snow-leopard.
2. Despicable Me 3 – Gru and Agnes
“Life is just like that sometimes. We’re hoping for a unicorn, and we get a goat.”
Before you start wondering whether or not you read that quote properly, let me just say…yes. Don’t worry, I would have never expected to be reading about unicorns on LinkedIn either. In the DM trilogy, Agnes (the youngest of the three girls) is obsessed with unicorns. In the third movie, she goes on a hunt for a unicorn in the forest. After hours of waiting for a unicorn to appear (and attempting to lure it in with candy), she finally finds one and brings it home…or so she thinks. In reality, she had brought home a goat, not a unicorn. Gru, having to play the role of the father figure, sits Agnes down and explains to her that she found a goat rather than a unicorn. In that discussion, he imparts some simple wisdom that we can all use.
In business or in life, you won’t always get exactly what you expect. In most cases, you won’t even be able to control the situation handed to you. You may have a demanding client or need to make last-minute adjustments on a presentation. What you can control, however, is how you can react to the situation. Even though Agnes didn’t find a unicorn, Agnes treated the goat like a unicorn. Similarly, when handed a tough situation, we can treat it like an opportunity and turn it into a motivator rather than a roadblock.
3. Finding Nemo – Dory
“Just keep swimming.”
This lesson is fairly self-explanatory. Just keep swimming, just keep pushing on. Troublesome situations can arise at any time, but you can’t progress if you let them become barriers. While working on a project, you may come across an issue that sets you back. Rather than fixating on and complaining about the problem, you need to immediately starting thinking how to fight it. Find a way around it, go with the flow, and problems will start turning into opportunities left and right.
Along with this quote, there are many characteristics of Dory which we can apply to our lives. Like Dory, it is sometimes helpful to have short-term memory. You may have made a business decision that just didn’t work out. Let the past be like a rearview mirror in a car. Use it occasionally to look back and reflect on decisions, but keep your focus in the moment ahead of you.
4. Kung Fu Panda – Master Oogway
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
Kung Fu Panda strikes again with a phenomenal message. This one comes in a conversation between Master Oogway (the Kung Fu master…the giant tortoise) and Po. Po, lacking self-confidence, explains his confusions and drawbacks to Oogway, who simply replies by saying “you are too concerned with what was and what will be”, followed by the quote above.
It is a simple reminder to appreciate each moment. Each and every day is a gift, and needs to be utilized to the fullest. There will be days where you go to work or show up to class lacking all motivation. To get through them, try focusing on the opportunity that lies ahead of you – the chance to innovate in your workplace or learn a new skill in class. Put just twenty minutes of focused attention on whatever is in front of you, and see if you feel more motivated after that.
5. Shrek – Donkey
Live life with enthusiasm
Like Donkey, learn to maintain positivity in as many situations as possible. Even in Shrek, we see scenes where Donkey has his tail between his legs. But what we also see is how he rebounds from each situation. Donkey was never able to remain sad, and because of that, neither was Shrek. In a similar vein, you can be the person to shine light on someone’s rainy day, whether it be a colleague, classmate, friend, or even a stranger.
The great stuff about storytelling, whatever entertaining or not it might be, a real storytelling is filled with truths that you can mirror with your life and your expectations. Go to see and learn more from animated movies…