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4 Things The Lion King Teaches Us About Being Brave

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4 Things The Lion King Teaches Us About Being Brave

Growing up, The Lion King was one of my favorite movies. I thought of myself as “young Simba” and watched the film over and over again. Perhaps you did too. 

For me, what I identified with the most was not that Simba was African royalty or had really cool friends like Timon and Pubma. What I identified with the most was Simba’s bravery. 

It wasn’t that I thought of myself as brave. It wasn’t even that I wanted to be brave. It’s just that I admired that trait in him so much because even as a kid I believed it to be such an honorable quality. I believed that princes – and future kings – should be brave. I think we all do.

But as I got older, I no longer believed bravery should just be the province of royalty. I also started to believe that it should be a trait that all leaders should possess. Heck, I started to believe it should be a trait that all of us should possess really. 

I think I came to this conclusion because of the lack of bravery I saw in my own life – and in the lives of others, especially leaders. I thought if only we had more courage we could be in much different places in our lives, families, and communities. I just thought if only the world was braver it could be better.

Ultimately, The Lion King – which is about Simba losing his father and his homeland and fighting to reclaim it – can teach us much about how to be braver in our own lives. Below are 4 ways the film does just that:

  1. Bravery will require us to choose between confronting wrongs and staying comfortable. Although Simba was in a forced exile from his homeland, he found new friends and a very cushy existence with Timon and Pumba in the wilderness. Life was good and his catchphrase became Hakuna Matata (“no worries”). But when Simba’s old friend Nala from the kingdom comes to tell him about the wicked cruelty now taking place there, Simba’s no worries lifestyle is immediately challenged. He has to choose between going back to his homeland and taking on the wicked king (his uncle Scar) or living the good life with his friends. Likewise, for us to be brave we will have to choose between standing up for our beliefs so that we can right wrongs or being timid by remaining in our status quo existence.
  1. Bravery will require us to confort fierce opposition. For Simba to stop the wicked oppression going on, it meant that he not only had to take on his uncle but that he had to take on his uncle’s entire army. But how was he going to do it? After all, he only had a couple of friends who were his allies and no resources. Yet, Simba still decided to. In our own lives, if we want to be brave we will have to fight people, organizations, or systems that might have more power than us. We will have to fight our fear of being excluded, bad-mouthed, messed with, and even “cancelled.”
  1. Bravery will require us to accept that the outcome is not always guaranteed. In retrospect, it’s easy to believe Simba was going to be successful in stopping Scar from continuing to oppress the people (or animals in the movie’s case). But when Simba was fighting Scar and his forces, he didn’t know if he would fail. He didn’t know if he would lose his life. He didn’t know if his friends would lose their lives. For you and me, when we are called to be brave we won’t always know if we’ll succeed. We won’t always know if we will win or lose. 
  1. Bravery will require us to pursue victory for more people than just ourselves. Even though Simba was fighting to regain his legitimate right to be the king, his victory was for more than just himself. His victory was to redeem the loss of his father and to save his people/animals. Likewise for us, when we’re in situations that require bravery the stakes will not just be for us. No matter what we’re going through, there will always be other people who will win or lose if we win or lose even if we don’t know that.

Ultimately, the lessons from The Lion King are timeless. Choosing between staying comfortable and confronting wrongs, standing up to fierce opposition, accepting unknown outcomes, and fighting for more than ourselves are just a few of the things the movie teaches us about how you and I can become braver in our own lives. 

Dr. Rob Carpenter - known simply as “Dr. Rob” - is a transformational author, filmmaker, and CEO whose mission is to entertain, empower, and uplift people and humanity.

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3 Things Professor X Teaches Us About Mentorship

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3 Things Professor X Teaches Us About Mentorship

Professor X is one of my favorite characters of all time. He is smart, wise, courageous, and the person most responsible for developing the beloved X-Men. But what can we learn from him? Or more specifically, what can we learn from him about mentorship that will allow us to be better mentors in our own lives?

Before we answer this, let’s take a brief recap at Professor X’s life to give us a little more context. 

Professor X was born to privilege in England, graduated with his PhD from Oxford, and discovered he had the incredible ability to read minds. But he also discovered he had something even more important than his own personal giftings: he discovered that he could develop the giftings of others who had special gifts like his own. But instead of sitting back and just using his own giftings as many talented people tend to do, Professor X decided to do something else – he decided to use all that was within him to develop a special school for mutants so that he could grow other people’s giftings too. Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, Beast, and more were all beneficiaries of Professor X’s decision to become a mentor to them and countless others and we owe him a big cinematic thank you. 

Here are 3 things we can learn from Professor X about mentorship.

  1. Mentors should seek out their students, not the other way around. In today’s society, we’re often taught that students should only seek out busy mentors and, if these busy mentors have time, maybe the students will get lucky to get some of their time and sage advice. But Professor X actually did the opposite of this. He actually sought out his students intentionally by traveling to recruit them. He was hungry to help develop their gifts and he wasn’t going to wait on young people discovering him – he was going to purposefully discover them. Likewise in our own lives, because we are all mentors (to somebody) we should seek out our own students to help grow and develop them. Yes, I know that we are busy but the people who positively respond to our recruitment could have their lives changed just like the X-Men did by Professor X- and what could be better than that?
  1. Mentors should believe more in their students than their students believe in themselves. Professor X had an uncanny belief in and dedication to his students. When many of them doubted themselves – especially his students in the movie X-Men: First Class – he was there to give them a mental focus and spiritual toughness they needed to make it to the next level. For you and me, when we are mentoring our students (even if just informally) we should deeply believe in them. Even if we don’t see people’s talent or commitment quite yet, we should believe in them so that they can believe in themselves – and commit to making themselves better.
  1. Mentors should understand that their dedication will help multiply their students’ gifts and success. Without Professor X, Wolverine, Beast, Storm, and many of the other X-Men would have never developed into the heroes they ended up becoming. In our own lives, we should also understand that many of our students may never develop into the best version of themselves unless we help them to.

Ultimately, Professor X can teach us many things about mentorship. But his personally recruiting students, believing in them more than they believed in themselves, and ability to help multiply their talent are just 3 things we can take away from this remarkable cinematic hero.

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3 Things Disney’s Mulan Remake Teaches Us About Bravery

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3 Things Disney’s Mulan Remake Teaches Us About Bravery

In March of 2020 – right prior to the coronavirus pandemic – I had the opportunity to take in a special screening of Disney’s $200 million dollar epic remake of its classic children’s movie, Mulan. I was at the Directors Guild of America with the star and the director of the film who were very gracious with their time and answering my questions about their blockbuster.

In my opinion, Mulan is one of the best films I’ve seen and the fact that it was helmed by women (i.e., a woman director and top female crew) made it that much more special (this is a very rare thing in Hollywood unfortunately). The stunning visuals and cinematography; the fantastic fight scenes; the emotionally moving storyline and acting; and the themes of the movie all struck very powerful cords with me and I kept asking myself if I could be “brave, loyal, and true” like Mulan.

In case you haven’t seen the movie yet on Disney+, here is a quick recap. In an ancient province in China, Mulan is set to be matched for marriage by a matchmaker who deems that she is a bad daughter because of an accident at the matchmaker’s house. As a result, the matchmaker refuses to match Mulan. Meanwhile, a war is being declared on the kingdom and all of the young men are called to battle. Every family must submit one young man to fight, but because Mulan’s family has no boys her father volunteers. However, before he can go off to war, Mulan steals his gear and weapons and rides off to go train with the army. Shockingly, they don’t know she is a girl and she surpasses the expectations of all of the other young men. It is going well until Mulan is exposed as a girl and is banished by the army. However, she comes back to warn them of something she discovers in the wilderness that turns out to be a strategic advantage for them – and she even uses that knowledge to personally help the army (and the emperor) win victory over the enemy. 

Given all of Mulan’s many lessons about bravery, what can you and I learn from her so that we can be more brave in our own lives? 

  1. If we want to be brave like Mulan, people will doubt us. Mulan was doubted not only by the matchmaker (i.e., that she couldn’t be a good daughter or wife), but when she snuck off for war she was doubted by her father (i.e., that she wouldn’t make it home alive) and army that she could be a skilled and effective warrior (i.e., women are not supposed to be these things). But despite all of this doubt from others, Mulan proved herself through her commitment and actions and made everyone believe in her by the time of the end of the movie. Likewise for us, if we are going to be brave, not only will strangers likely doubt us, but so will our own family and colleagues. We will have to stick it out for the long run to show them that their worries were ill founded and that we are brave and victorious warriors like Mulan. 
  1. If we want to be brave like Mulan, people will test us. Even though Mulan showed incredible courage, she was constantly tested about whether she would be “brave, loyal, and true.” At home, in the army, in victory, and with the emperor, Mulan had to consistently demonstrate bravery to various people over and over again. She was brave, for example, when she admitted to her commanders in the army that she was a woman. And she was also brave when she told the emperor she could not accept a position from him after she saved his life (and the kingdom) because she had to make things right with her father (i.e., for stealing his gear and running away to take his place in the war). For you and me, we will have to demonstrate bravery not just once or twice, but all of the time – or at least regularly. 
  1. If we want to be brave like Mulan, we will have to accept that rewards will come – eventually. Throughout the course of her journey, Mulan not only experienced setbacks and disappointments, but she also experienced victories and rewards she walked away from because she had to do the noble thing (i.e., honoring her dad by turning down the emperor’s offer to stay in his royal guard). In our own lives, we will have to see that our rewards for being brave may not always come right away – or we might have to walk away from some rewards initially- in order to see even greater rewards down the line. For Mulan, even though she walked away from the emperor he pursued her after she made things right with her father and still rewarded her (which eventually let her fulfill her destiny).

Of course, there are other things Mulan can teach us about bravery, but these 3 stand out to me. If we want to be brave like Mulan, we will have to accept that people will doubt us, test us, and tempt us with rewards that we may have to walk away from to get the even greater rewards that bravery affords in the long run. 

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3 Things Black Panther Teaches Us About Royalty

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3 Things Black Panther Teaches Us About Royalty

Not only was Disney’s Black Panther a cultural and financial juggernaut, but it was a film that teaches us about how we can all operate more like royalty. But before we get into how we can do that, here’s a quick recap of the movie.

As a child, a little boy’s dad is accidentally killed in Oakland at the hands of his visiting uncle during a dispute over their African Kingdom, “Wakanda.” Consequently, this little boy (Erik Killmonger) makes it his life’s mission to take revenge to kill not only his uncle (the King of Wakanda), but to take over his uncle’s Kingdom. And he succeeds – temporarily. When Killmonger grows up he assassinates his uncle at the United Nations and then travels to Wakanda to wrestle the throne away from his cousin T’challa (the Black Panther and son of the deceased King who is now King himself) before ultimately being defeated himself- and killed. 

What can you and I learn about how to be more royal from this phenomenal story?

  1. Royalty is a behavior not a bloodline. Although Killmonger was technically a rightful heir to the throne of Wakanda – any royal family member could challenge a newly installed king in Wakanda to become king himself – he did not behave like royalty. Killmonger lied, cheated, and manipulated his way to temporarily seizing the throne from King T’challa but to no avail. But why didn’t his efforts work in the long-term? Because the same behaviors Killmonger used to get the throne were exactly the OPPOSITE behaviors he needed to keep the throne. To be royal, we must be honest, full of integrity, and inspire people out of good will – everything T’challa did that Killmonger didn’t. As a result, even though Killmonger had royal blood, he did not have royal (or noble) behavior necessary to rule. For you and me, we can become more royal if we realize that royalty is a noble behavior we have, not a bloodline we inherit from others. 
  1. Royalty will always challenge us to make us better. T’challa by all intents and purposes was a kind and caring king. He loved his people, oversaw a peaceful nation, and kept his country out of war. However, given his Kingdom’s vast resources, he did little to help blacks outside of Wakanda which infuriated Killmonger. By not recognizing the pain of people outside of his own borders, T’challa opened himself up for criticism and conflict – which, in the end, made him better because T’challa realized he should be doing more to help more people. Likewise for us, if we are to operate like royalty some may challenge us (with their words, articles, videos, music, or movies) to be more empathetic to the plight of other people around us. 
  1. Royalty always does what is right – with the right methods. The biggest difference between Killmonger and T’challa is that the former wanted to use the WRONG methods to do what is right and the latter wanted to use the RIGHT methods to do what is right. Killmonger and T’challa eventually had the same goal – to make Wakanda great and help oppressed black people around the world – but they had different ways of going about it. Killmonger wanted to kill people to do it whereas T’challa wanted to use peaceful diplomacy and commerce to do it. Even though they had the same goal, T’challa was acting like royalty because he wanted to pursue the goal with dignity while Killmonger didn’t. In our own lives, for us to operate like royalty we should pursue good goals with good means. In other words, we shouldn’t take shortcuts or do bad things to justify reaching the good results we deserve in our lives.

Ultimately, Black Panther has many lessons it can teach us about how we can operate like royalty. By understanding that royalty is a noble behavior and not an inherited bloodline; that royalty will challenge us to improve what we’re doing and who we’re helping; and that royalty will always require us to do what is right (using the right methods) we can begin to see how we can all be more royal ourselves.

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