Leadership lessons from...The Princess Bride!
I’ll be honest, some of the ideas that I put up here are half-baked thoughts, driven by a moment of insanity. It’s not always the best writing you can imagine. This may even be similar to something else out there—but I’m not copying it, because I haven’t seen it. It’s a blog, after all, and worth every penny I pay for it. (Which is approximately 1000 pennies a year for the domain name.)
Today’s leadership post features…
Leadership Lessons from The Princess Bride
(yes, the movie)
(with apologies to the writers, actors, directors, and sensible people who find this silly)
I. Identity leads to clarity: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
The secondary story in The Princess Bride is the pursuit of justice by Inigo, seeking retribution for his father’s murder. Inigo is relentless, often to the point of danger. Yet there is a time in the film when he has lost his way. When that happens, what brings him back? Being reminded of his quest.
From this, we take the lesson that identity leads to clarity. Inigo knows who he is, and this brings clarity on his mission. Further, no one meets him without finding out the backstory of his life and the mission Inigo lives for. While other issues arise, they are either for the sake of paying the bills or as an aid to accomplish his purpose.
What, then, should we do? Know who you are. You need not go off pursuing enlightenment about your identity—recognize what life has made you. And then establish your identity and quest from that point. Keep it clear, and minimize the distractions. Filter the rest of your life through that identity and clarity.
For example, I am a Christian devoted to communicating the truth of God’s Word to all those I encounter. To that end, I have taken on some jobs and avoided others. I have pursued some study and avoided other study. But it’s not my purpose to be a pastor. Pastoring is how I accomplish my purpose.
II. Do what you can today: “Good night Westley, good work. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
The Dread Pirate Roberts typically left no survivors, but he made an exception for Westley to work as his valet for a day. For years, this was the last thing Westley was told at night. Not a positive way to live.
Yet over time, Westley wins the Pirate’s trust. From that point, he learns the secret of the Dread Pirate Roberts and comes to fortune as his successor. Why?
Because he did what he could do, what was right in front of him.
How can you focus on the task at hand? It may not lead to piracy, but it may bring you to true love.
III. Show integrity: “We are men of action, lies do not become us.”
After being captured by the bad guys, Buttercup makes a deal with the prince. She will go with him, and Westley should be released to his ship. The prince makes this deal, intending to have Westley killed instead.
The henchmen, Count Rugen, attempts to sell the lie to Westley, who then speaks the line above. The result? Rugen knocks Westley out, throws him in the pit of despair, and tortures him.
Our hero does not truly reap the reward of his integrity until later in the film. We don’t like that idea, but it remains important. He stands for all that we should be and is the only person throughout that is both honorable and stable.
Is that not what we should be? We ought to be people of action—those who act on their intentions—and people of integrity. Lies do not become us. Not at all.