A good line is sometimes better than a long speech, and a good American film is sometimes more effective than a self-help book. If you look hard enough, many of us have a “made in Hollywood” scene that changed our life course, don’t you think? I won’t give you mine today, but I would like to invite you to see again this scene from the film “In Search of Happiness” which I have often shown during my training sessions…
Do you remember this film based on a true story? Chris Gardner, a small-time salesman played by Will Smith, finds himself alone with his 5-year-old son when his wife leaves him, fed up with his endless money problems. At the end of his rope, up to his ears in debt, he struggles to maintain his dignity despite being forced to sleep outside. He then met a stockbroker and seized the opportunity he was offered to try and land a job in finance, despite his atypical profile. By dint of courage and determination, he overcomes the obstacles and ends up not only getting by, but even earning a very good living and finding happiness… (all set to melodramatic music, of course).
But back to our scene. Chris Gardner’s on-screen son (who is also Will Smith’s on-screen son) attempts a basketball hoop, exclaiming with the enthusiasm of a five-year-old that he wants to become a champion. Reasonable, his father began to bring him down to earth: “You’ll excel at lots of things, but not that, I don’t want you throwing balloons day and night. Then, faced with his son’s disappointment, he changes his mind:
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Not even me. If you have a dream, you have to protect it. You’ll see that people who can’t make it will do anything to discourage you. If you really want something, you can have it. Period.”
Like him, I sincerely believe that you have to believe in yourself to give yourself every chance of building a truly ambitious project. When you want to get somewhere, it’s vital not to listen to the birds of ill omen and the advice-givers who demoralize you under the pretext of wanting to do you good. When you try to go beyond your limits, like this kid who wants to become a basketball champion, you inevitably incur the wrath of all those who have never dared to go beyond theirs. So it’s vital to fight the prevailing pessimism and not let yourself be overwhelmed by toxic comments. By “protecting your dream”, you give yourself the means to make it a reality, while remaining focused on your objective.
To bring a project to a successful conclusion, the manager’s role is also to protect his team’s determination without letting negativism get the better of him. It must give everyone the motivation they need to keep moving forward, no matter how risky the situation may seem. As Mark Twain said, ” They didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it. CQFD.
How do you protect your ambition and that of your teams?