We can all agree that a good movie sticks with us. Whatever the genre, a movie has the ability to communicate powerfully. Recently, I received an email with management lessons gleaned from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The content was rich and relevant, making me recall movies I have watched, some of the quotes I remember, and the lessons they teach about life. If you don’t mind, I would like to take you to the movies. WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD!
- “You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.” From the movie Wonder, directed by Stephen Chbosky
This inspiring and tearful movie is centered on August “Auggie” Pullman, a boy who was born with facial deformities due to a condition know us Treacher Collins syndrome, which made him different from other boys his age. After being homeschooled by his mother, the day comes when Auggie must start fifth grade at a school with other kids. Obviously terrified, Auggie makes the transition but it’s not without struggle. In a memorable scene, his older sister, Olivia, moves close to her brother’s ear and says, “Can you hear me? If they stare, let them stare, you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”
Now, to be real, that didn’t change Auggie’s face or make the kids in school instantly like him. There were no miracles just growing pains. His story serves as a reminder that our differences are what make the world diverse and beautiful.
In a world of growing copycats and dwindling originals, it would be facile to conform to the belief that, if we blend in, we would be accepted, approved, loved, and even celebrated. Think about the different parts on your body and how they each perform varying functions for the body to operate effectively. “What if your whole body was an eye? How could you hear? Paul argues in the Scriptures.
We blend in by siding with an opinion someone gives because we either want to be in their good books, or we are afraid that our view of how see something differently will ostracize us from a group or place we desperately want to fit into. The acceptance and appreciation of our differences, be they physical, political, economic, or racial become the brush that paints the canvas of life with the colors of empathy, compassion, and kindness.
As the movie progresses, Auggie’s intelligence, sense of humor, and quiet strength stand out as he sticks it out in school. In the end his difference is not on his face but in his character and courage which shine through as he becomes a difference maker. Don’t be afraid to stand out.
- “If you can take it, you can make it.” From the movie Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie
As a boy, Louis Zamperini had consistent run-ins with the police to the point where law enforcement were on first name basis with his parents. With his dad punishing him and his mum praying for him, Louis was either headed to an early grave or jail.
But Louis was gifted in running. His brother took note of this gift and drew it out. Often it’s others who see our giftedness when we don’t see anything of value in us. Hence the need for mentors. As his brother and track and field coach train him, Louis’ potential turns potent and he earns a spot on the US Olympic Team. The quote arose as a challenge issued by his brother when he wanted to give up. Although he didn’t medal in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin he went back to the training board in preparation for the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. World War II broke out and any hopes of an Olympics vanished. Louis joined the Army and was in a bombardier plane that went down in the Pacific. He lasted 47 days at sea and ended up in Japan where he was a POW for two years.
Singled out by a camp sergeant, Louis was the recipient of repeated abuse, courtesy of the sergeant’s violent fits of rage. Over and over Zamperini recalled his brother’s challenge as an expression of resiliency and survival against the harshest of circumstances. Zamperini took a lot and made it.
The odds might be stacked against you but if you are convicted to your core about your purpose and the plan God has for your life, there will always be light and hope in the darkest, most hopeless situations. I submitted a manuscript for editing and the criticism was constructive but still hard to swallow. I viewed the criticism of my writing as a personal attack and it momentarily drove me to the brink of eating the forbidden fruit of quitting. Spurred on by knowing that my writing has a purpose, and the constant encouragement from my wife, family and friends including you, the reader of this blog, I have redefined criticism as feedback. This has been a game changer for me and my journey to becoming a better writer continues even through the valley of what was formerly known as criticism. Say it with me, “If I can take it, I can make it.”
- “It’s hard to care for something you’re not investing in.” From the movie Fireproof, directed by Alex Kendrick
Caleb (played by Kirk Cameron) is a firefighter who won’t hesitate to run into dangerous situations to save people. He is a hero at work, but a zero at home. His selfishness and cold attitude to his wife has driven the marriage to the brink of divorce. His father asks him to pause on the divorce plans and instead embark on a 40 day Love Dare journey to show his affection for his wife in an effort to stave off the dissolution of their marriage. His parents come alongside to help him with encouragement especially when he performs acts of kindness but his wife grows suspicious not appreciation. Notwithstanding Caleb continues to invest in his marriage guided by the Love Dare and fueled by his new found faith in God.
This quote is an excerpt from Day 3 of the Love Dare. From the farm, to the home, to the business office, relationships thrive on reciprocity. Just like a farmer cannot expect a harvest where he never planted a seed we should also never demand a withdrawal where we never made a deposit. Where are you investing your attention and most valuable resources? Are you daily nurturing and growing the spheres of influence you currently have?
We know that movies can provide an escape from the busyness of life, but we can also glean valuable applications for life each time the end credits roll. Thanks for coming to the movies with me. If you have a favorite movie and a memorable quote from it please share it in the comments section.
Waiyaki M. Waiyaki
Discover Your Treasure
“Live by Design not by Default”