Which movie plot does your career resemble?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Movie plots can provide insights into our own career dilemmas. Photo: Kerrie Leishman

Movie plots can provide insights into our own career dilemmas. Photo: Kerrie Leishman

Movie plots can provide insights into our own career dilemmas. Photo: Kerrie Leishman

Movie plots can provide insights into our own career dilemmas. Think about your favourite movie: what does it tell you about your career and your concerns?

A favourite movie plot is rags to riches. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is a classic as fresh today as when it was released in 1936. We see Chaplin’s little tramp overwhelmed by the technology of the factory workplace, but eventually finding happiness and love. It resonates for anyone who has felt swamped and crushed by work, with a message of hope that, with persistence, we can find work that allows us to express our talents.

Overcoming the monster is another common plot. James Bond movies appeal to many because they show the struggle of good over evil and, in Bond’s case, doing so with poise and elan. Monsters can appear in our careers in different forms. The monster might be a colleague, manager, client or funding body that must be confronted and defeated. It could be a psychological hang-up or obsession. Who doesn’t want to overcome their fears, or banish a monster colleague?

Maybe your favourite movie involves a quest. The Wizard of Oz is a classic of this genre. Do you see your career as being an exciting journey in pursuit of the wizard? Working towards some desired outcome that will result in great rewards either for yourself or others.

Voyage and return movies are all about learning and acquiring wisdom. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a classic example of this genre. Many of us have war stories about when we have ventured into new territories, faced challenges, discovered new worlds and returned a changed person. Working for particular employers, on a project or product can all provide voyage and return stories.

Sometimes our careers play out like a comedy, although we might not want to acknowledge this. Comedy nearly always involves a central character acting under a misapprehension that is clear to observers. In classical comedy, in the final act, everything becomes clear and the misunderstandings are resolved. Often, we relate to comedy because we have had the painful experience of blundering at work. Most careers have comic elements.

Sadly, some folks experience tragedy in their careers. Usually tragedy involves decisions taken that seem to be beneficial initially, but that unravel and have terrible consequences. Anyone who has remortgaged their home to finance a business that subsequently fails will understand the role of tragedy in careers.  Macbeth is a classic example of tragedy.

Finally, and appropriately after Easter, there is rebirth. Rebirth movies usually feature a character who falls under a dark power and effectively dies. Then, they are saved by an external agent and they are born again. Sleeping Beauty is the classic example of this tale. Many people can relate to dark periods at work where they felt numb, hollow or dead. The lucky ones can tell stories about being rescued by a mentor or other form of prince, who awakened them from their slumber and freed them from the dark power.

So, when you think of your favourite movie, have a think about what your choice might be telling you about your career.

Jim Bright is professor of career education and development at ACU and a partner at Bright and Associates. Email [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训学校. Follow @DrJimBright. 

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