9 Incredible Lessons from Disney’s Tomorrowland
Optimism, empowerment and hope. These are the themes which drive the story of Disney's Tomorrowland forward. Told as a story within a story, Tomorrowland is a fun movie that's kid friendly even if it is a little on-the-nose toward the end.
But, I'm not writing a review on the movie. If I were, I'd give it an 8/10. It's not the best movie I've seen, the story has some holes, and the final message is a bit forced. What I do hope to share is some of the incredible lessons we can learn from a fantastic story.
A word of caution before we get started. SPOILER ALERT! While I won't give away anything that would ruin the movie for you, there may be a few things I share which you may not want to read before seeing the movie.
One of my pet peeves is getting interrupted. It's one of the rudest things you can do, especially as an adult. The Tomorrowland story opens with George Clooney's character, Frank, getting interviewed by Britt Robertson's character, Casey. At the end of each sentence, when Frank comes up for a breath, Casey tells him his moving too slow, not telling it right, or not getting to the point fast enough.
We each have a story to tell. If someone has the courage to tell you theirs, don't interrupt. Don't cut them off and don't try to reshape the tale into something you want to hear. Most people undervalue the power of their story; if someone is willing to share theirs with you, thank them and let them tell it.
It's Hard to Have Ideas, But Easy to Give Up
Arm-chair-quarterbacking is easy. Pointing out the flaws in someone's behavior or plan doesn't take that much talent or skill. Having ideas and acting on them are hard things to do. Creative people are a dying breed. From day one we're told what to do and how to do it. Go to school, go to bed, go back to school, go to work. As the world becomes more industrialized it's becoming harder and harder to have ideas that stand out. Dreamers have to stick together.
It's also easy to give up. Over the past three years of trying to make it as a blogger, podcaster and coach, I've been faced with the prospect of giving up dozens of times. When things get tough, it's easy to give up. It's easy to throw in the towel and let someone else take over.
Not much talent goes into arm-chair-quarterbacking. What's difficult is being creative in the moment and making decisions for ourselves. Giving up takes not talent either. Have ideas and go after them with everything you have!
Things Are Bad, But What Are You Doing to Fix it?
Misery loves company but complainers never get anything done. At this point in the movie, we see a montage of Casey with her hand-raised, moving from classroom to classroom, each taught by a cast member from Stargate Atlantis. Each teacher is sharing the dire straights the world is in and how we're all riding this giant space-bound ball to our doom.
When Casey finally gets to ask her question, she says,
I get it, things are bad, but what are we doing to fix it?
Anybody can complain. That takes no special skill, talent, or initiative. But, not everyone is willing to do anything to make the situation better. As Gandhi said,
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Which Way Do You Want to Go? Backwards or Forwards?
We have a choose, to look back at what has been, or look forward to what could be. Tomorrowland is all about possibilities. At the 1964 World's Fair in New York, Raffey Cassidy's character, Athena, begins recruiting the brightest, most optimistic minds. She's looking for people who could create the world they want and who can live in a world full of possibilities.
Look back at your life for just a moment.
Five years ago, did you think you'd be where you are today?
If not, you have the power to make changes in your life that will lead to the life you want. You can choose to look forward with the optimism of possibility, or, look backward toward things that cannot be changed.
I choose forward; are you with me?
The Future is What We Make
SPOILER! (But I'll keep it vague) We enter the movie of Tomorrowland at the end of the story. The opening scene, the one mentioned above where Casey
repeatedly interrupts interviews Frank, is actually the end of the movie after everything has happened. As they retell their adventures, we, the audience get to see events as they play out as if we were right there with them. In just over 63 days, the world will end.
Unlike in the movies, our future isn't set. We can't travel forward or back in time (they don't in the movie in case you were wondering), and we can't change the past. All we can do is make the best decisions today with the information we have.
Your future isn't decided yet. And neither is mine. Every day we wake up to a fresh start and if you're not excited about it, unless you do something about it right now, nothing will change. The future, your future
SPOILER! Frank, Casey and Athena strap themselves into a rocket ship that has been hidden inside and below the Eiffel Tower for decades. Frank tells Casey their launch will cause their blood sugar to plummet and it will feel like you're dying, then it'll be over.
As the rocket engines ignite, Frank and Athena, who've been through the process before, hold on for dear life. In start contrast, Casey raises her arms and in excitement yells “Woo hoo!”
Have fun. Life can be a wild and crazy ride; don't forget that pain is temporary and remember to enjoy yourself!
In Every Moment There is the Possibility of a Better Future
Every moment of every day we make decisions. For example,
Is now the best time to get up and go pee or will I miss part of the movie?
Life is too short to live it with a “glass half-full” mindset. Every day you and I have the opportunity to change things and influence the future. As Jeff Olson mentioned in The Slight Edge, today's actions determine tomorrow's results. Eat a burger today, gain a pound tomorrow.
Amazing lives don't happen over night; they're the final result of countless good decisions.
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Dreamers Need to Stick Together
As soon as Athena said “dreamers need to stick together,” I knew it would be one of my favorite quotes from the movie. As you may know, I'm a huge advocate for mastermind groups. One of my guiding principles behind every group is that we need to stick together.
The world can be a tough for us creative types. Those of us who want to change the world are often criticized and made to feel weird. Even when I coached people at Dell on soft skills like making a personal connection with our customers and self-improvement, I was misunderstood.
If you want to dream big dreams, you can't isolate yourself. Nothing great has ever been achieved by thinking small, and it's hard to dream big dreams when you have no one there to support you. Surround yourself only with people who support you in your dream and who challenge you to keep going.
Athena never stopped believing, never stopped recruiting for a cause she believed in. Neither should you.
Don't Give Up, Never Give Up. You Are the Future
While not a direct quote from the movie, the theme of persistence toward a greater goal is the underlying message of the entire movie. We have the ability to do amazing things if we're willing to open ourselves up to the possibility of their happening.
That roadblock you're facing could actually just be a detour sign. That worst-case scenario that just happened could really just be God's way of saying there's a better way. Whatever you want to achieve, I believe you can do it.
Image courtesy of http://disney.wikia.com
Question: Have you seen Tomorrowland? What was your favorite lesson? What did I miss?