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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.

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 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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5 Things Beauty & The Beast Teaches Adults About Not Fitting In

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5 Things Beauty & The Beast Teaches Adults About Not Fitting In

One reason why so many Disney movies are timeless is because of the truths they teach us. Beauty & The Beast is no exception.

The film follows a booksmart daughter (“Belle”) of a local inventor who gets lost in the woods and is taken as a prisoner in a castle by a mysterious Beast. To find her missing father, Belle searches the woods and discovers the castle herself – before being taken prisoner by the Beast too. The Beast, who must get Belle to fall in love with him by his 21st birthday to break a curse over his life, tries to force her to but she escapes because he is too rigid and controlling – he is trying to force her to be something she is not through lots of rules and regulations. Eventually, though, Belle returns to the Beast after the local townspeople discover the castle and attempt to destroy it (Belle realizes that she does love Beast and wants to be with him the rest of her life).

While there is a lot to unpack to this film – about love, prejudice, and other things – one of the biggest lessons Beauty & The Beast imparts is on how to be okay with not ‘fitting in.’ This is important because regardless of whether we’re children or adults, not fitting in is something we will continuously struggle with so having more inspiration in this area of our lives is important. Here are 5 things the movie teaches us.

  1. We will fit in some places, but not in other places. Belle was seen as weird in her hometown because she read a lot, didn’t date, and seemed to keep to herself. As a result, she didn’t really fit in there because the townspeople thought women shouldn’t read and should just get married. On the other hand – unlike in her hometown – once Belle entered the castle with the Beast, she was more accepted and valued by the people there (the servants of the house) then she was by the people in her hometown. Likewise for us, some places and groups we will just not fit into (no matter who we are), but other ones we will (no matter who we are). Instead of us trying to be chameleons and change just to fit into a group we want acceptance from, we should simply find people and groups that will accept us no questions asked.
  1. Other people will always try to mold us into their image. Both the Beast (and Gaston, the local arrogant townsman who was smitten for Belle) tried to make her into something she wasn’t: their version of what an acceptable wife should be. The Beast, for example, wanted her to follow his rules (without seeking her input or perspective) and Gaston wanted Belle to just blindly follow him (to make her his trophy housewife). For you and me, other people will also try to get us to become what they want us to be according to their rules and dictates. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes this is bad. We have to recognize the difference between when changing as a result of others’ influence is in our best interest and when it isn’t. 
  1. Some people will go to war with the identities we’ve chosen for ourselves. Gaston could not stand that Belle chose Beast over him, so he decided to go to war against the Beast. But, in a way, he also decided to go to war against the identity and choices Belle made for herself too (that she chose to identify with everything that Gaston wasn’t – namely the Beast). In our own lives, some people will question, challenge, belittle, dismiss, and sometimes attempt to cancel the identities and groups we choose for ourselves because they don’t think they’re good for us. This will happen over and over in our lives, no matter who we are.
  1. Those who attempt to change us will often be changed by us. The ironic thing is that even though Beast tried to change Belle through his rules, he ended up being changed by her through her influence. She was able to get him to see that his assumptions and approach to her were all wrong and he transformed into a better person as a result. When people attempt to change you and me, they will likewise be in a position to be changed by us. Not all of these people will change, but many of them will – whether they know it or not (and whether we know they change or not). Our influence in their lives will be profound and it may lead them to adopt different mindsets, approaches, and behaviors toward us (and toward others in their lives) even if just subconsciously.
  1. Our happiness is defined by who we are – not who others are trying to make us to be. Belle was completely happy to be the weird booksmart daughter of an inventor and she never tried to be anything else. Even though Beast and Gaston tried to make her into one thing, she wanted to be something entirely different. And she stood firm. For us, this can be tough to do but it is possible. If we find happiness in ourselves (and not because we’re trying to make others happy or become who they want us to be) we will be better for it.

Ultimately, Beauty and The Beast is a phenomenal film we can learn many lessons from, especially around not having to fit in. When we recognize these lessons not only will we be in better positions to carry them out in our own lives, but we just might help influence others to carry them out in their own lives as well.

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