OK, so I am on a flight between Singapore to Dubai for a marketing summit for work on Singapore Airlines, and am lucky enough to be travelling business class (I should state that I am in business class because a self-upgrade using the points accumulated through the travel I do). I was steadily working away on some reports, when they started doing the meal service, which was amazing, and decided to watch one of the in-flight movies. What I chose to watch was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, starring Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig (and I have to say this lady is going through an amazing transformation herself with her recent roles!).
I can honestly say this movie moved me in a way that not many movies have in the past, well except Conan the Barbarian, the original one (that one’s for you James Raybould). We see many films about personal transformation and how people have grown but there was something about this film which took us through a journey of change, spurred on by a situation at work to step up and solve a problem, the result of which was not just the solving of the problem, but the personal transformation that resulted from it.
The film took us through a multitude of crossroads, where the protagonist could have gone with the safe option, and gone with flow, but if he had, it would have resulted in a worse personal situation. Each option pushed him further and further outside his comfort zone, but pushed him further and further in to a more confident and accomplished individual, which to be honest was inspiring to watch.
So you will say… it’s a movie Matt, and yes I take that on board, but the elements of choice in making tough decisions is something that we face on an almost daily basis, we may not have a situation like in the movies where cutting the green wire or the red wire means the sake of a planet, but a single choice can determine the future of a person, a group, or even a company. Think about a time when you were a part of something, and the direction of that something may not have felt right, or seemed contrary to the values of what you do.
One of the values of LinkedIn, where I work, is to “Act Like An Owner”, that seems straight forward enough, but sometimes it also means having to make decisions that are contrary to the popular opinion, it sometimes means making a decision which will upset someone, sometimes it’s a decision that makes you unpopular. I guess with age, and experience making some of those decisions, or expressing some of those critical concerns becomes easier, and the more used to making those decisions, the easier it becomes.
I was once asked by a manager, who pushed me hard daily, and pretty much influenced the way I am today, Haresh Khoobchandani, “Do you want to be a manager who is liked, or a manager who is respected?”. Respect comes from making the tough choices that are right for the business, right for the customer, right for whatever cause you work for, they may not be popular, but they are right. Make choices, make them based on what you believe, you are in a position because you are trusted to make them.
And by the way, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a pretty good film.