Things I Learned From The Movie : Spider-Man | No Way Home

Much more than the logo, there can be nothing more intrinsic to our friendly neighborhood web slinger, other than, the quote:

With great power, comes great responsibility

-attributed to Uncle Ben

There was, presumably, no other superhero easier to relate to than our teenage Peter, who had to juggle work, studies, personal life and that of Spider-Man. Please, do not misquite, we can all relate to Batman, Iron Man and all the other heroes, yet, we are neither Billionaires, Heirs of Estates and Norse Gods, so then, Peter Parker is closest.

The quote, sadly, no longer conjures the same tingles, many had when it was printed or shown in theaters. Today, responsibility is nothing but an idea and power is relegated to only obtained by those who further evil in the halls of government or human society. A lackadaisical excuse to ignore responsibility and to stagnate given that convenience is the sign of the times.

Superheroes are meant to inspire people and serve as a catalyst for leisurely consideration of heavier topics which would otherwise be boring, especially, for those of the same age as Peter.

Yet to see, how these days, superheroes and what they stand for reduced to mere fanfare is just heartbreaking. The first trilogy, without any professional rating capacity, this humble writer dare claim, still is and will always be the benchmark of any Spider-Man movies to come. It spoke quite vividly of the quote by which Spider-man had always been known for, in a way, that it resonated with the audience setting the stage for new take on heroes, their lives and their growing pains. The second, with sincere effort, was a pale shadow of the first. Not for any technicality on acting or story-telling, but merely on the fact that, it missed to frame a message to the audience. Primarily, because, and this is stepping on plenty of conspiracy theories here, the second trilogy was made for capitalist purposes. Capitalism, the curse of every art form.

But, thankfully, while still suffering from the inecessential humor that Marvel places, in scenes, where giggle has no place, this Spider-Man trilogy, had managed to communicate a novel, yet profoundly resonating frame of heroism is and what heroes stand for.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a 2021 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, co-produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), and the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Jon Watts and written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. It stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man alongside ZendayaBenedict CumberbatchJacob BatalonJon FavreauJamie FoxxWillem DafoeAlfred MolinaBenedict WongTony RevoloriMarisa TomeiAndrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire. In the film, Parker asks Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) to use magic to make his identity as Spider-Man a secret again following its public revelation at the end of Far From Home. When the spell goes wrong because of Parker’s actions, the multiverse is broken open, which allows visitors from alternate realities to enter Parker’s universe. (Wikipedia)

So, then in our usual tradition, with an ever growing task to distill only three from the many lessons, the movie has, this article will focus on those that hits closely home and that of which is so fundamental and yet frequently overlooked.

Lesson 1 : Being A Hero Is About Believing In The Goodness Of Others

The pace of the movie was filled with the usual Marvel tinge of humor, which would mesh well with the personality of Spiderman, yet underneath that facade and quite polished in a way that at first glance almost unnoticeable was the fact that the movie was almost about redemption, second chances and of the contagious effect of good.

Nearing the end of his nemesis-clean-up-drive of the varied Spiderman heroes from each Spider-verse, Peter could finally sit back and relax. But, he did not and it speaks volumes of what separates heroes, the genuine ones from those who merely save the day only to fight again for another. What I mean is, if we take a look at another favorite personal and blockbuster hero, Batman–we see some lessons, Bruce could learn from Peter, so he could finally have some life and not have Alfred crying.

If we consider carefully, every hero, super or not, has villains, Each villain, is almost like a child in a way that they wreak havoc resulting from either some unresolved childhood trauma, exquisitely depressing turn in life or deeply marked cruelty of society. They do the cat-and-mouse chase, Hero wins, Villain gets sacked and they live to do the same charade the next day. If we strip away the moral dogma each hero has in dispensing their own perspective of justice and right, it is easy to see, that it truly was not sustainable and evil is pervading, winning if not the hallmark of the day.

Peter, however, neatly communicates to us not just a sustainable way to keep bad at bay on a daily basis, but perhaps long term, when he decided to hold of on transporting the collected villains until they could be reconnected with the side of themselves, which many of us, if not all do, inherently good. Being the intelligent teen that he is, Peter, had just demonstrated that while the stuff that makes legend is pretty cool, believing in someone, reconnecting them with the good that is inherent in them prior to the cause of their tantrums–can perhaps be the best way to not just halt crime, but rehabilitate the person. Put it this way, Peter, believed that the villains of the different Spider verses did not dream to be villains, but were given a bad hand, and it was enough to demonstrate to his enemies and the world what a true hero really does.

It did not come easy, certain scenes in the movie clearly demonstrates how easy it is to fix our focus on the actions of those who had done us harm and get even. But, in such, we become those that we are against. Such is the condition of today’s world and just made all the more worse by many self-professed philosophers and poets who merely spout sweet lines and clever phrases notwithstanding the basic foundations of ethics and morality, to provide us a justifying line, when. our finer faculties of forgiveness and empathy fail.

A true hero, believes in the goodness of others, even in his villains.

Lesson 2 : Tomorrow Is Not Promised. Live For Today.

This lesson, to begin with, does not by all means harmonize with the ongoing subpar philosophy that has reprehensibly replaced what the phrase Carpe Diem was intended to bear. Yes, the line, by no means is allowing any form of selfishness or neglect of responsibility and accountability on grounds that we have to care for ourselves first or that life is about just being alone and letting the world burn. Well, yes, technically, such decision and way of life is not wrong. Yet, what separates us now from animals, if we are then only conscious of our own good and unaware or neglectful of our fundamental responsibility to be an instrument of good for others?

Tomorrow is not promised. Live for today.

The most potent of scene would be how Green Goblin wins over Norman Osborne to be the harbinger of death to Happy’s and our beloved characters of the MCU (of which, i shall only hint, as we have the tradition of no spoilers). But not simply that. In another heroic act, to secure the stability of the whole of the multiverse, Peter took on a life disconnected from anyone and everyone he loves.

That feeling when everyone else seem to have forgotten about you or literally did not even know you and yet, you alone, in the rest of the many universes and in all of them know it, to which, their knowledge of you and of what you are and they meant to you would threaten the very fabric of life, in all sincerity, is excruciatingly Promethian in levels of self-inflicted torture.

While, we may not have to make similar decisions as Peter had. We are all subject of the same probability, with ever increasing chances, given the current state of the world–and so why we be thrift on words, meager on goodwill and stingy on expressing warmth? To love, care, forgive, wish good luck, hug, kiss and be kind are free, easy to give and all the more needed by everyone. Much like how a smile does by no means impoverish the giver and yet makes the recipient richer than Midas.

Make those close to you know, while you still can. We can all use some LOVE!

Lesson 3 : Life Is Granted So Find Purpose

A life of solitude and loneliness, while in many fictional works are glorified in a way that compares those who live such life to wolves, lions and God is only said by those who know not to be both lonely and alone. For such condition is not just unnatural bordering an insult towards the very nature of man, but also, an epidemic so easy to cure, yet so lethal to have taken many lives.

It is quite gripping actually, how Peter post his choice of allowing his personal life to die, so that the multiverse can be saved, would mean that he would come to the shop where MJ works, order pastry, admire her beauty, see his best friend, recall the fun times, observe only from afar the joys of their friendship and perhaps wish you could have damned the world if granted another chance and yet knowing you cannot.

I will leave that there for a moment so we can simmer the scene (for those who had watched and for those who are yet to, trust me, it does not depreciate the deep sorrow of the scene).

To emphasize the exponential increase of Spider-Man’s grief must be, consider that; just some months back, he had lost his uncle, then Tony, then falsely accused of being the bad guy other than losing his identity after facing Mysterio.

Nothing happens to anybody, which he is not fitted by nature to bear

-Marcus Aurelius

Well, it is a slippery slope pointing out the many instances that Marvel had gloosed over such rich-emotionally-charge scenes with humor, thus the rant about the pains of Spider-Man.

But, to drive the point, of the third lesson. We shall qoute, The Buddha, that ” All Life Is Pain” and yet, while life is merely a countdown until death, overcoming the exquisitely crafted pains of the universe daily–which in Peter’s case, would still involve being a hero, requires a strong sense of purpose.

There can be no other compelling force, that sustains, Spider-Man and Peter, in the past and hopefully, indicating here, that in another Multiiverse, he did succumb to the influence of a symbiote, other than Purpose.

And same as Peter, just like Spider-Man, while we may not have special abilities, we all have the power to make a difference, the power to help someone, the power to be a force for good and so, may we chose to do so and take solace in the epic lines of Uncle Ben, “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.

#Ikigai #wabisabi #kintsugi #ubuntu

Musings : Poetry, Music and Life

This blog site had seen pause for a while. As the coming issues will communicate the reasons and details and start a comeback with such fervor that we hope, with the readership we have, will spark continued interest.

On this auspicious of day, with great delight and excitement, this humble blog site which only had the aim to Inspire the drive to continually be different and make a difference–we welcome a new contributor, who will not only, share perspectives unique, new and challenging the status quo, but will bring familiar humor delight to our digital journal.

This entry, which shall also be the name sake for the corner of which the fresh issues published by Dwight, will hopefully, spark this dying interest in today’s society, to challenge the status quo, dream and make a difference.

Things I Learned From The Movie: The Discovery

The Discovery is a 2017 British-American romantic science fiction film, directed by Charlie McDowell from a screenplay by himself and Justin Lader. It stars Rooney MaraJason SegelRobert RedfordJesse PlemonsRiley Keough, and Ron Canada.

The premise of the movie is simple, yet profound. The story was not too intricate, but is potent enough to sink those existential questions, the ones that matter most, deeper if not too deep, to keep many of us from sleeping.

The movie begins with an interviewer questions Thomas Harbor, the man who scientifically proved the existence of an afterlife, a discovery that led to an extremely high suicide rate. The interviewer asks Harbor if he feels responsible, and he says no. Directly after, a film crew member kills himself on air*.

The movie in my humble opinion breaks the commonly accepted fact of what happens to us after death. In a way, in its twisted, depressing and somber way it sheds a ray of hope, that maybe death is not that bad after all. That perhaps, as my dear friend, would normally quote, that the Dead know one thing, that it is better to be alive, is not entirely true and perhaps they truly are in a better place than we are. For all we know, maybe, Jesus really did mean it after all, when he told the dying man beside him, at the moment of death, that he was going to be with him, that day, in Paradise. I can only say #Jesusknewsomadvancedthings

The progression of the story, was slow, yet fast and dynamic in subtle ways that neither makes you anticipate but not bored or left speculating endings and it ends with perhaps the most heartbreaking and promising ways at the same time.

It took me some time to write about this–death and life, are topics that worry friends, family and those close to you. Not to mention, you would probably start receiving invitations to some wellness session from your Human Resource department. This topic, while undeniably true and inescapable, somehow had been pushed to taboo if not to the cognitive horizon. So, after a couple of months, here are a few of those things I had managed to distill as lessons from the movie.

The Beauty Of Life Lies In The Fact That It Ends

The start of the movie was slow, yet paced just right to create a crescendo that overshadowed the outcome of two of the four most interesting, if not focal characters in the movie. Will Harbor (Jason Segel) meets Isla (Rooney Mara) in a ferry ride going to an island. Same destinatioN. Same purpose. Different goal.

Will is the son of the man, who discovers, that death is not the end of all, that is it actually a destination that is perhaps, only in speculation better than this plane of existence. Unwilling to accept that his father’s Eureka moment was inspired by an experience Will had in childhood, he lives his accomplished life trying to run away from it, if not ignore it. Isla, on the other hand, is someone who had everything one wanted to hold on to and lost, who at that point, just wanted to move on to what is next.

Headed towards the same path, different roads and yet crossing to meet each other halfway, only to find themselves separated between planes of existence reminds us of one thing. That love is a germ that grows even in the coldest of hearts (a line from the X Files I shall never forget). That one of the most beautiful things in man’s life, is that it ends, that there is terminality in it. That this moment, right here and now, while it can be recreated can never happen again, that sunset, that smile, that kiss, that hug and all acts of human kindness, are but encapsulated in one moment and can never happen again.

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man


Our Choices Make Our Life And Our Decisions Define Death

Life never came with a manual. My dad who happens to be a pastor, will object, saying that the good book is the manual and yet none in any of the good books, can we ever find a similar manual as we would any furniture assembly instruction; nowhere do we find what we used to on new devices and gadgets and nowhere are things clearly stated enough for us to not be clueless.

Our lives are made of the decisions we make. The decisions we make are formed by our experiences, self-images, perspectives and many other things in the real of psychology and yet at times, we also know that for some reason the soul intervenes in these choices. Like those moments, that neither reason nor logic can explain only our gut.

So our lives are then made of choices to be made and our decisions are those that define it. As we make these decisions we progress in life, inching closer to our terminal ends, that beautiful moment, when the summation of who we were, what we are, and how we we lived are all accounted for in our minds, hearts and souls.

A scene from the movie, shows, Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), pushing forward the fringes of his discovery–an actual video footage of the afterlife. Initialy thinking that it failed, then learning that Will sabotaged it and seeing that it does, Thomas, decides to destroy the whole experiment and keep it hidden. That decision, though, relatively simple, to the scientific and academic mind he had communicated, was totally does not follow. Yet, he made that choice. Yes, those moments when we decide over the choices presented to us, are what defines our lives and who we are at our deaths.

We Look For Reason, But Yearn For Purpose

Just a month ago, as the government of my country of residence had started to feel was just all a scare, well, rather it seemst that way and people got bored to pay the price of safety, I was tasked to communicate a government mandate to have business operations be completed in offices. While the wisdom behind it is hinged on reviving industry, it still did not match as industry was quite alive (now I am digressing).

So there I was communicating what many would think so simple, of course it should be, it was meant to be done for compliance and yet, deep inside I know that sometimes answers are not what people need, at times, more often than we ntoice, our humanity needs some purpose, some greater wisdom that makes our lives have sense and meaning.

 Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved? 

Troy, Movie

We want to know that our lives have meaning, that there is purpose in all this chaos, that somehow, we are part of a greater something, is what primarily moves us at times, if not now, or later, at the twilight of our days.

The movie shows us how people perceive purpose and with some varied complexity. Thomas, impelled with some inspiration from Will’s childhood experience. Will denying his accidental role in the Discovery, had made himself and accomplished fellow of the science, while his younger brother, understanding that he neither has the smarts nor the tenacity as his father and older brother have was all too happy to be the forager, Toby (Jess Plem), to watch over and create structure in the community his father had made for those who can never seem to move to the next plane via the suicide express.

While that small circle knew, the question, only God should now know, the movie shows that it had not changed their nature, that they are playing the same roles they had identified and perceived themselves to take part in. They are part of the inherent play orchestrated by the spirit of the world, the wisdom of the collective and the power of imagination that had continually pushed man to limits that define the horizon.

This should all make us pause, in think deeply, perhaps, deeper than we have. What ripple had we left for eternity, will the next plane be an answer to those questions whose answers are within our grasp and yet unable to take for fear?

What shall be your verse?

John Keating, Dead Poets Society

Ikigai Chronicles | Rix Germino

It is easy to lose sight of the extraordinary in the daily. As kids we viewed the world with wonder an amazement, only to lose it somewhere in our adult lives. We stop gazing at the clouds and make images out of it, we no longer feel the awe at the sight of a rainbow and more importantly, we lose the excitement of the promise of tomorrow.

There are a few of us, however, who continually find the zest in life. Those few ordinary and yet extraordinary individuals who deserve much more than our notice, but our gratitude for never giving up on the search for meaning.

As a high school friend, my fondest memories of Rix was when we would use to sketch. We were not really the artist we probably thought ourselves to be, should we look back, but it brought a sense of commonality which branched out to many other things. I am truly blessed to have gained the friendship of this person, who amidst the many years, differing experiences, varied challenges and many other changes in the transition of life, had continued to be a true friend.

I would like to think, that as many of us, if not most, we leave school with a sense of purpose, a desire to make something of ourselves, to leave a mark. We start out with careers filled with exuberance and energy only to be cheated either by what we were told the world was going to be or by society.

We had infrequent meets, Rix and I, since leaving high school. Though, we had kept in touch and social media had helped us be updated of each other and the crew, we can never really get to know the dept of the metamorphosis that happen as the people we knew, stay the same, yet not entirely. Many times, I had almost thrown the white towel, but still there are some, very few perhaps, like this friend, that continue to brave the cold and unforgiving nature of the world to those wo do allow life to make the most of our existence.

It was late of 2018 when we started to finally get to spend more time with each other and bounce ideas, mature ideas, ideas tempered by the wisdom of experience. I was focusing on my journey to the Masonic craft, while, he shared he was cultivating his own passion project.

Personally, ideas excite me, so I was inclined to ask and from then, what started to be good friendship evolved into an inspiring moment, that to this day I look back to with such fondness.

I did not realize the my friend was making waves in the trekking, climbing and mountaineering community. That dresses as a ninja, referencing Ninjas in the popular anime Naruto, he would participate in trail runs and treks. Then, my admiration just continued to be amped, as I he had shared his experiences, realization, growing philosophy and ability to complete a trail run barefoot.

“People will never care, unless they are aware”

-Rixc (The Lakad Ninja)

I had always believed that inspiration is not something one just captures, that unlike hope, it does not spring eternal from within–that is meant to be shared, understood and felt. So, it was on this perspective that I had gathered some of the inspiring ideas this friend has and hope to share to whoever can resonate, nurture and share.

Who is Rix, what does he believe in, why does he do what it is that he does and how does he keep on amidst a unique set of goals contrary to the trend of the times?

  • Rix had been a blood donor for several years now and has had received acknowledgment for this from Red Cross.
    • I actually would recall of a time when we were out to get some drinks and he had to decline, as he was going to donate blood. While we had never been aligned on the concept of blood donation and transfusion, i had always felt mildly evil as he succeeds to generate growing positive responses from our friends
  • On his way to establishing his reputation as “The Lakad Ninja”, he had participated and finished two 160 kilometers ultramarathons
    • For an individual working in the same corporate environment as I do, it almost legendary how one can accomplish this given the constraints, the wide array of distractions and the easy to succumb temptations of laziness
  • He believes that History and Nature are two of the most important pieces of human life threated with decay as society advances, so he goes on these trail incursions, trekking circuits and mountaineering ventures to secure a piece of history, record the powerful healing effects of nature to the soul and pass it on to posterity

It was December of 2019, perhaps, when he had shared his ultimate goal. Truthfully, as I was digging some of the divine mysteries of life, I was ignorant of what greater cause could be found in mountaineering. It seemed rather a hobby than a crusade. My friend, then, shared a piece of wisdom, that I shall never forget. That sometimes, the greater mysteries strike us without any need for digging, that they are as clear as day, prevalent as the sun and yet we manage to ignore as mundane.

Stay Healthy, know our History, love our Country and protect Mother Nature.

-Rixc (The Lakad Ninja)

To this day, I have yet to be sure, if it was the vision, the belief or his determination to prioritize his goals above anything else that amazes me. He had created a YouTube page Lakad Ninja to document his excursions to the far-flung mountainous areas of Cebu City, Philippines to research its History, its People and its Soul.

He is currently on his way to charting the 80 barangays, these are the smallest units of community in the Philippines, to frolic with locals, dig their history, uncover their myths, understand their fear and live their life.

To me, there can be nothing truly more inspiring than one person, believing that, it does not really take much for a person to find a purpose and be truly consumed by it.

Things I Learned From The Movie : Memoirs Of A Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha is a 2005 American epicperioddrama film directed by Rob Marshall and adapted by Robin Swicord from the 1997 novel of the same name by Arthur Golden.[2][3] It tells the story of a young Japanese girl, Chiyo Sakamoto, who is sold by her impoverished family to a geisha house (okiya) to support them by training as and eventually becoming a geisha under the pseudonym “Sayuri Nitta.” The film centers around the sacrifices and hardship faced by pre-World War II geisha, and the challenges posed by the war and a modernizing world to geisha society. It stars Zhang Ziyi in the lead role, with Ken WatanabeGong LiMichelle YeohYouki KudohSuzuka Ohgo, and Samantha Futerman.

While the book arguably, will be as piercing as the movie, if not even more, it is one of those that I had always wanted to read, but am yet to. Letting a spectacular movie, such as this, on the other hand, be simply looked at as a piece of entertainment, is such a crime. So, here we are with our tradition of finding three life lessons from the movies

Life Takes Us To A Path Of Surprises, We Make The Most Out Of It

Life has a will of its own. For some reason, in the most peculiar and uncanny of ways, it frequently takes us to a reality far removed from what we, in childhood, envision, had been told or pretty much reared for. How many of us look back at life and say in our most silent and vulnerable of moments that this was not where we wanted to be, that this was not the life we envisioned or simply this was not how we imagined life?

Perhaps, it is merely an assumption that even the most successful, in the deepest inclination of their imagination, has their hearts knocking on their wills, gently whispering, unsettling reminders of a childhood vision, desire or dream, far removed from the current. But who is courageous enough to admit in this generation of make-believe? If you are truly, in your most sincerest of consciences, are where you had always wanted to be, please be grateful, savour it, live it and pay it forward. For many, if not most of us, wallow through the years of life, coursing through it and all the while, travelling the path of the lost.

The opening scenes was truly heartbreaking for me. How life robs us of our dreams, when we least expect it. Of how, at times, with varying speeds, slowly, yet surely, life dims the bright shining star we had always held out as landmark for our individual futures.

There in a small fishing town, two young girls, glanced by their evidently depressed father, just across their acutely sick mother, will unknowingly be sold to an unknown man who will whisk them away from everything they are used to, far from all that they had dreamed of or anything familiar, to a life of high art, music, poetry, ceremony and mysticism. The life of a Geisha.

I can only imagine the dreams those girls had. What did they think they would be when they grow up. Did they have the chance to scheme of great things for themselves in their minds or where they simply waiting for life to take them to the same fate they found their mother in. Whatever the case, none of those certainly mattered then. As they, abruptly, had to navigate life, away from the comfort and hope of even having the leisure to dream.

Separated from her sister and enduring the life she was totally unprepared for, the misdirected girl grew to be a woman, who reluctant about her place in life, strove and rose to the heights of sophistication, glamour, decadence and intrigue.

Saiyuri learning the high art of the Geisha from Mameha. A beautifully crafted moment that communicates how art, discipline and purpose can redefine almost anything.

Something about this metamorphosis felt close to me and should to many of us.
We probably do not have our dream jobs, we are not living in the houses we wanted to, the salary we were told we can have nor around the people we had excitedly imagined we will be. Yet, we push on, farther to the raging waves of life, pressing on, while relentlessly finding ourselves some meaning and making the most out of it.

I had in this career, met many individuals, who had taken up education to be in the field of medicine, art, music, engineering, architecture and many more. But similarly, the harsh truths of life, had pulled them, severed us, away from those trajectories and into some of the most inconceivable of functions and roles we are in. Then again, in a profoundly inspirational way, these people, continue to make a mark in what they do. They are unrelenting in making their case against life, the lot it had given them and they rationale they had maintained for their purpose and existence. Just like the young girl, who turned Geisha.

Purpose Is About Paying It Forward

Life blows us to places, it too, in with the same apathy, leaves us to chance, the choices we make and the resolve we have. In the same context, the success of the girl who turns out to be the top Geisha of the district, was not by mere chance alone. She was given a chance, she made her choices and took it with passionate determination.

There in the busy district of the opulent, the scenes take us a to a momentous moment, when the previously decorated Geisha of the same house that the girl belongs to, takes her to her wings and tutelage.

Whatever influences they were that moved, Mameha, the previously celebrated Geisha of the same house, Saiyuri, the little girl from that fishing village, it is in bad taste to not appreciate the beauty of the human soul to feel, share and be and be magnanimous simply because, one is in the position to.

It must truly be a rewarding feeling to be in a situation to help others and being able to do so without any consideration of future reward, recognition or anything in exchange. Again, this reminds me of some of the wonderful people that had been patient, kind and believed in me along the way. They were not my family, they had nothing to gain from helping a teenager bordering on the clueless to find himself amidst many and frequent shortcomings, yet they continued to be there, in their own fashion and thankfully, I have had the privilege to do the same for those whose current circumstances resonated with mine and experience what they had–and find it fulfilling.

Truly, the measure of any man, is what he does for another, notwithstanding any reward and without any other reason, other than, they did it, because either they had once been in the same situation or that they feel others would have done the same.

Love Moves People, Hope Gives Strength, But Purpose Gives Meaning

Saiyuri, Mameha and Hatsumomo. An almost Freudian or Jungian set of characters, each communicating powerful emotions, profound perspective and eternal lessons in an exciting backdrop of westernization of an ancient tradition.

One of the things that makes the movie beautiful, is how it weaves, Love in the backdrop of personal grief, societal change, war and the constant threat of change. Rewind to the first few scenes, when the little girl from the village, Sayuri, was merely a kid attending her lessons, we see, what we would initially count as a lovely encounter between a gentleman, who recognizes the pain of a girl and a girl who, for the first time, was visited by the soothing caress of love, of being loved and of perhaps loving back.

While I was watching, it struck me as an important meeting, one of those that you know would have a significant impact to the narrative. Little did I know that the same encounter, will demonstrate one of the most vivid expressions of love in the state of being forbidden, in the name of propriety. When it is unrequited, not for the lack thereof, but for the love of another. Then, when it was withheld, not due to fear of responsibility or any other hindrances, but for its multifaceted perspective and the intricate waltz it plays on the human soul. Truly, Love moves people.

Love was not the only thing intimated by the movie in a subtle, yet profound manner. A shameless plug to this serious journal, is the fact, that when I think of hope the closes I can remember are the Green Lanterns, I just had to say that. Anyway, moving back, the movie, beautifully, permeates to all of us the perspective of how the human heart and our soul, regardless, how the person is disposed, spring eternal.

While we see hope shown in the multiple attempts the young Saiyuri does to get to her sister and how amidst its failure she continues to hope to find her, we are also introduced to one of the primary characters of the plot. It is very easy to categorize Hatsumumo, the current primary Geisha of the house, as the antagonist, it is difficult to just simply box her in that. The movie had taught me that while many choose to be kind amidst the unforgiving circumstances life deals to us, some, give up on hope and end of the simply be the thorns in the rose that they are.

Hatsumumo, to me, was a rose, who continually choses to be the thorns. I will never understand why she deliberately wanted to inflict so much sadness on a young girl who had done nothing to her. The movie, will hint at it as her seeing Saiyuri as competition, but the more I think deeply about it, I come to the realization that at times, we want others to give up on things we had given up on, and Hatsumumo, to me, had given up on hope–thus, she her inner demons revolt at the site of a young girl who just seemed inherently filled with hope.

I could be wrong and what her reasons were, is for any one to say. Maybe I will understand it better as I get to read the book. I will definitely make the needed supplementary journal, once I complete it this March of 2022, but until then, to me, when we start to give up on hope, it becomes but an impulse that we want others to do so, too. For the more they strive, the more they hope, the more we feel regret, vulnerable and tortured by our conscience, because–hope, springs eternal.

From Love to Hope, this time and in the final minutes of the film, I think we were given a glimpse of the Japanese culture of Purpose. It is like in that file, the Last Samurai, where Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) says something about why the place was magical, that everyone, from the moment they wake up to the moment they sleep, focus on the mastery of their craft, that the determination, attributed meaning and purpose of the Geisha, made Saiyuri, Mameha and the rest of the women who had vested themselves of the fabled moniker, Geisha, truly remarkable.

I will always remember that scene, when Saiyuri gets to Mameha, to rekindle what it the Geisha truly stands for and why amidst the flamboyant, easy and convenient entertainment of the west, the Geisha still holds it allure, then, now and perhaps even until the future. Many of us live life in such routine that we forgivably simply go through the motions.

Mameha communicating life lessons to Saiyuri, of which she in turn, will have the opportunity to the same for and with her

The unbearableness of life has pushed many, if not most of us to simply go through life as a routine. It is easy to feel that a moment’s thought about the why we do what we do, why we wake up and our place in the grand scheme of things can easily feel cumbersome and unnecessary trivialities in the rat race many of us find ourselves in. Yet, what a sad excuse it is when we compare ourselves to magnificent women we come to find in the movie (the book, too, maybe, I have not read it, maybe there are some difference so just saying), who amidst the stringent confines, strict constraints and virtually never-ending charade of rituals, were able to gather the constitution to find their place in society, life and most importantly–purpose in the grand scheme of things.

This, I think, is what makes, the movie, its characters and it plot, not simply a story about the Saiyuri, the Geisha, but of all of us.

Leadership Hacks From The Movie : Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan is one of those movies that we can watch a couple times and still feel like the first time. I would tread lightly on discussing the gore of war, but it is more than just a war movie. The depth of emotions that came with each scene is just a few of the ingredients that made it amongst the greats.

I still remember the first time watching it. There were no online streaming sites, Netflix was not around and the internet was primarily for business or education, so we did what any movie fan would do in the early part of 2000’s–rent a VHS. If you are unfamiliar of what that is, well…, you missed a good chunk of your life so Google it now. I just remembered we still have the old player in my family home, it would be good to advise them to keep it, that piece of technology could become antique.

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is known for its graphic portrayal of war, especially its depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad (Tom SizemoreEdward BurnsBarry PepperGiovanni RibisiVin DieselAdam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for a paratrooperPrivate first class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of four, the three other brothers having been killed in action. (Wikipedia)

The internet has volumes to say about the film. From behind-the-scenes stories, to trivia, to how Spielberg played with paradoxes. This article, however, will focus on some simpler perspectives, which is finding coroporate lessons that we can take away from the movie.

War educates the senses, calls into action the will, perfects the physical constitution, brings men into such swift and close collision in critical moments that man measures man

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lesson 1 : Teams Need A Common Goal

In any organization, from the ground to the highest echelon of corporate structure, teams are seldom built by the leaders that will be at the helm. Frequently, leaders inherit teams. To have a part in building an entirely new team, collecting a preferred selection of talents, is a priviledge, not a lot of young leaders in today’s coporate context get the chance to (so if you have, count yourself lucky)

In the context that we will employing scenes from a war movie and relating it to coporate leadership, perhaps, it is safe to assume that just like in the military, especially in that of World War II; where units must be made and gathered to work seamless almost overnight, it is not unfair for organizations to ask their leaders to jive, mesh and integrate into their inherited or newly-built teams in the shortest time possible.

After all, the business world, would not have read Sun Tzu, if we cannot relate how they feel and think everyday to war (no pun intended).

The current challenge is, which is most likely a serious strain also since back then, is that teams need time to trust each other–which is fundemantal to any cooperation, collaboration and teamwork. Every team, is made up of diverse individuals with varying backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, personalities and preference. To expect them to simply be united in a matter of weeks or months, is a steep order indeed. Weirdly, how much time is needed, is yet to be fiured out–we just know, deep inside, that it needs time. Somewhere between a month, ideally, but no more than an eternity.

Team performance, unlike what most would think, is not simply a question of leadership. The success of any team goes far beyond education, experience and competency–of the individual members and the leader.

When a group of individuals are clustered together, may it be in a confined space or the proverbial boat, differences will arise. This is what we exactly see in the move as the unit received the order of going ahead to the frontlines, away from the from the action, to recover a Private named James Ryan. Yes, even a seasoned team that had been in many death-defying missions still disagree, argue and fight internally.

A compelling scene of how team dynamics really work and how leadership plays a crucial role in guiding talented individuals, is when the unit encounters a machine gun nest defended by an isolated crew of German soldiers.

Order, though, in his manner of communicating, proposing that the unit takes the machine gun nest down, Captain Miller was met with varied opinions and objections. The more prevalent ones being that, that it is needeless to take it down, that incoming forces can deal with them with the minority vote on taking it down so it will not be able to ambush others.

Saving Priate Ryan, Unit Huddle, Movie Scene
Unit discusses, then argues need to take down machine gun nest.

Imagine that! Battle-hardened soldiers, who earlier, had just been so frustrated to not see action, was now avoiding, what they considered to be needless conflict. We can only imagine, how peculiary frustrating it must have been for the Captain, but this is where leadership in the process of building teams come to life.

Seeing the hestitation and hearing the obviously selfish recommendations; Captain Miller demonstrates a lesson in what is right and leadership by initiating all preparations and even spearheading the attack.

In moments of hesitation, where teams break down as individuals, it is the leaders who cement trust, confidence and purpose. The best line ever said on the scene perhaps was the captain telling the boys, the objective has not changed, the objective is to win the war. A fine lesson in redireting teams towards something that will unite diversity in moments of discord–a relatable and sensibile goal.

Lesson 2 : The Burden Of Leadership Is Heavy

Someone said something about leaders being the ones to climb the tree to update everyone that we are in the wrong forest or something to that effect. For whatever its worth and the actual line is, whether it was Jack Welsch or John Maxwell who said it, it speaks true of the heavy burden of leadership.

Take for example the scene in the movie after the taking of the bunker. Neutralizing a dig fortified with machine guns and heavy artillery did not come easy nor without casualty. Their doctor died, in one of the most emotional scenes of the movies. It is easy to assume that after dealing death and seeing so much, people can just get used to it, but perhaps not. After seeing the soldier through his last moments, the Captain hides to shed tears of sorrow, regret and perhaps guilt. One can only imagine the feeling of losing someone in your command.

Just when you feel sorry for the Captain in the scene and you want to give him respite, he goes back to his unit and finds them arguing about what to do with the captured German soldiers. Do they kill them to ensure that they no longer participate in the war? Or should they let them go following the rules of the Geneva convention, and being that the nature of their mission cannot accomodate holding on to captives? Alot of viewers take this to be a discussion of morality, yet to this humble spectator, what struck me was how the Captain got everyone to harken togehter again as a team.

While everyone was almost pointing guns at each other due to the argument, the Captain takes on a bet that everyone had been having about what he did before joining the war. He asks how much the bet is on and shares that he used to be a teacher and how his decision is not entirely hinged now on what is right or wrong based on the articles of war, but on how he feels that every life he/they take, perhaps needelessly, makes him feel farther and farther away from home. It drove a point to everyone and what was just a heated argument a few seconds earlier, turned cold and everyone just had a reverberating resonance to the lines.

That is the burden of leadership; to cry and be unmoved; to suffer and stay calm, to be confused and yet confident, to be hope, when at times there seem to be none, and to be the epithet of what is right, ideal and good–because teams do not just look for success, much more than many care to admit, teams look for mearning in what they do.

Lesson 3 : Be Like Captain Miller

The movies starts with an elderly man kneeling at the resting place of who we are then introduced as Captain Miller. Miller and Ryan, did not know each other for long, they only spent weeks together in the most unlikely of situations. Yet, the effect Captain Miller had to Ryan was so profound that even after many years, up until his age of white hair, he still held the Captain in such high regard, enough that he would ask him if he had earned it (the last word’s the Captain uttered to him before dying, were, earn it)

Taken into such context, maybe, just maybe, the hallmark of leadership is to leave an indelible positive mark on the lives of others.

A tall and idealistic notion, which is absolutely easier said than done, but not impossible.

Just how did Captain Miller leave an mark on Private Ryan, though?

This article would like to claim that it was the Captain’s selflessness; his willingness to put the need of others before his, and his readiness to sacrifice so others can advance; be safe and progress–that made him unforgettable to the young Private.

Leaders of today juggle an extremely difficult role.

They are to ensure team efficiency in functioning for enteprise success and at the same time, accomodate the individual nuances and circumstances of each member. To leaders, young and old, who have people in their charge and care, these two must come first and second; to the expense of their own needs coming third (that is, if they are single, imagine where it lands if they have spouses, kids and other family members to care for).

It is absolutely exhausting, just imagining it, yet to a true leader, this is the source of fulfilment. True enough, Captain Miller dies in the movie, but knowing that he had ensured that safety of Private Ryan, he passed away, with the look of someone fulfilled. He had mentioned earlier, that every person he kills makes him feel farther away from home, this time, he helped someone get home and for whatever its worth; amidst everything–he felt closer to home.

Capt. Miller encourages Pvt. Ryan to live, tasking him to, “Earn It”.

If you are one of those leaders, who are selfless in helping their teams continually contribute to enterprise success while genuinely supporting the personal career advancement of those in you care–you deserve all the love and recognition!

Yes, the road must have been hard and will only get tougher. But your selfless attitude and fine behavior, amidst any and all circumstance, in every interaction with your team as whole and individually; will and is making ripples that improve human society, in its own little, but no less powerful way.

That time helped a new colleague finish his work, because he had just started at the expense of you staying longer in the office; that instance when you covered for a single mother who could not make it work to tend to her child even if you had to come in earlier to work on your items; that time when you genuinely thanked someone for their hard work; and most importantly that time when you made everyone feel that they are all valued, cared for and appreciated even if you had not been made to feel so yourself–is perhaps, how leaders can be like Captain Miller and leave an indelible positive effect on the lives of others.

Corporate Hacks From The Series : The Mandalorian

Star Wars undeniably, will eternally hold a special part in our hearts, minds and souls as a species (okay, I may have taken this a step romantic here, but forgive me, it just feels good to say it). If you are a fan, needless to explain, if you are yet to watch a movie or any of the series related to it, you are strongly encouraged to do so.

As a kid, what took my imagination the most is the conflict between Jedi and Sith. Later on, it was the mythos of the Force. Eventually, as age caught up with me, the interest shifted to the characters–their lives, history, struggles and personal take in the great divide between universal freedom or monocratic despotic rule.

This blog, however, is not about any of that. This is about the latest addition the great epic tale, that had been faciltated by Disney since its purchase of the franchise. This time, as interesting as it is to talk about the old accepted cannonical story line, we will digress to glean lessons, corporate lessons, to be exact, from the series, The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian is an American space Western television series created by Jon Favreau for the streaming service Disney+. It is the first live-action series in the Star Wars franchise, beginning five years after the events of Return of the Jedi (1983). It stars Pedro Pascal as the title character, a lone bounty hunter who goes on the run after being hired to retrieve “The Child“. The Mandalorian premiered with the launch of Disney+ on November 12, 2019. The eight-episode first season was met with positive reviews, was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, and won seven Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. A second season premiered on October 30, 2020, and a third season is in pre-production. (Wikipedia)

I have managed to find three corporate lessons from the series, that hopefully, will be helpful in a fun way.

Lesson 1 : Teamwork Needs A Just Cause

Bounty hunting is not a job that invites teamwork. It is dangerous business, and the level of risk goes ultrahazardous the more people are involved. While we can surmise, that Mandalorians, are not necessarily raised to be bounty hunters, their preference for solitude is evident,too. In the series, we see them operate alone, even when there are still a handful left of them after the destruction of Mandalore.

In Chapter 7, of Season 1, titled The Reckoning, however, we see that individuals, equally distrusting of each other, with differing agenda, experience, background and ethnicity/race can organically come together as a team.

This episode showed us how a rebel-fighter-turned-mercenary, Cara Dune and a former Imperialist, Kuiil living in solitude to enjoy his freedom and repay his faults from his association with the Galactic empire, enemies at best, work together in helping Mando and Grogu ( (the little Yoda-looking Padawan). This is revolutionary. Teams of today do not have to come from the same background as Cara and Kuiil, we do not have to be and will never be from opposing sides of an intergalactic war, but we face the same challenges of teamwork, trust, effectiveness, efficiency and fulfilment.

We have a skewed understanding of teamwork. The corporate world had misunderstood collaboration, cooperation and coordination as teamwork, whereas, these are all its component, teamwork is something more. Teamwork, is about people working for each other and together. It is about understanding our individual goals, perspective for success, difference and competencies acceptingly, compensating, adjusting in a safe environment of trust, mutual success and shared responsibility should the enterprise fail.

Leaders of today, must learn how Mando gathered his team–they must have something greater than financial goals, a task or an objective, they must have harken everyone to a just cause, an ideal, a sense of a terminal goal that will inspire, motivate and drive individuals to the pinnacle of human attainment–self-actualization.

In the case of Cara, Kuiil and Mando the just cause was not complicated. They gathered amidst their differences with the knowledge of certain doom, to protect Grogu and ensure his safety. Simple, yet potent enought to allow them to bridge wide divides of differences and for Quiil to give up his life.

Today, we do not have to protect anyone in our corporate settings, but we all have someone or something dear to us. Our families, dreams, aspirations and the search for meaning are seldom spoken, but are the actual motivating factors of our actions. These and many more that are actually unrelated to perks, salary and financial stability–should be the just cause, if the coporate setting is to create a team such as the motley crew of Cara, Quill and Mando.

Lesson 2 : People Can Suprise Us, If We Let Them

In the same Chapter, we see Mando vehemently protesting the company of the IG-11, that Kuiil had reprogrammed. Other than it was the same machine Mando downed to save Grogu, he has a particular prejudice over machines. Several times, he had doubted IG-11, only taking Kuiil’s word, that it has now changed.

More than we care to admit, we have similar predespositions with the people we work for. Not necessarily, that we had either a bad experience with them in the past, but perhaps, our collective experience had just trained us to take things with a grain of salt and people with mistrust.

It will do us well to remember, that after Kuiil died and the Cara, Mando and Karga where in no position to save Grogu, it was IG-11 who secured its safety. The most distrusted, turns out to be the most reliable. Ultimately, in a scene that was quite emotional, IG-11, made the ultimate sacrifice for Grogu and the team. In their attempt to escape the myriad of Empire troops and with no hope of fighting them successful, IG-11 did something, that only creatures with a heart and soul will do. He sacrificed his life, by detonating his self-destruct protocol, only after he had waded through thick lava and ensuring that Grogu, Mando, Cara and Greef were safe.

In coporate settings of today, where deadlines are always urgent, tasks oversimplified amidst its complications and challenges require upskill almost without preparation–it is too easy to judge the competency of a colleague, a teammate, based on how they adapt to the tides. A failure, miss or oversight, can easily be calculated as incompetence and lead to doubts. Leaders and teammates of today’s corporate world, can learn from the experience of Mando, who was disproven, in the most heartbreaking of ways by IG-11, by doing what he believed it can never do–change.

While IG-11 was repogrammed from a total package of destruction to a nurturing and protective robot, we too, have to believe that our colleagues, while not necessarily, reprogrammable by codes, can turn around by how collectively we make them feel safe, integrated, valued and a part of a greater purpose in the success of the team.

Lesson 3 : Leadership Is Influenced By The Culture Of Organizations

Today, Leadership comes together with the role and the title. Not, that this is wrong, a manager must have the leadership skills, if one is to help an enterprise succeed. A leader, likewise, will need to employ managerial techniques, for one to be effective and efficient. In the perfect balance of this is where the success of the team is hinged. Presumably, with the volumes of books written by experts, gurus and industry titans there should nothing more to be added on the recipe.

The Empire is not that different from any organizations. It has the infastructure, chain of command and employee network that make is operate exactly from how companies of today operate. Though, the financial capabilities of the Empire is not something we are privy to in the series of the movies, we can safely say that to employ such vast network or talent, manpower and technology will induce cost.

On the topic of leadership and using the Empire structure as an example, we are introduced to Moff Gideon, who also happens to be the main antagonist of the story. A ruthlessly effective, efficient and calculating task master, whose determination, drive and aim was solely to secure Grogu, for whatever reason it is that he has for the Padawan. All of those in corporate leadership roles would scream foul just thinking about what Moff had and is willing to do to complete his objective, as we all certainly would. It is not far, however, for any of the leaders of today to be like Moff, and perhaps, we all, at some point had operated like he did, outside the realm of our conscious–merely justified by some leadership or business dogma.

See, Moff, as portrayed in the series, was obviously a bad person. He was an Emperial officer and for all we know, the empire seeks to dominate the universe under the rule of Sith, which are a bunch of dark, despotic and cruel force-weilders. This is, however, a one-sided take on things, to dare say.

If it were, in the Star Wars universe, a truly general fact that the Sith and the Empire is awful, how could they have troops, line managers and supporters? Some of them even, willing to fight and give up their lives in battle for the Empire. The Mandalorian was set at a time after the fall of the Empire, it is like, when an organization went bankrupt, but people still choose to work for it scenario. Surely, the opinion around the Empire being the epitome of evil, was subject to debate and perspective in that universe. So, along the same argument, we can say, that Moff, was operating and leading his team, not in the mainstream idea of leadership, as so we see it, but around the culture of the organization he was employed or aligned to.

And so, we can condemn Moff for his evil deeds and claim, we shall never be like him, but truth be said, we had been Moff’s at some point, hopefully not too often. That employee who requested a leave for some family event that we talked out, becuase we need them, that vacation leave where we still called colleagues because we needed something, that wedding we never even gave the employee time to enjoy or that sick day, where the employee had to check a roster of possible ailments as an excuse, because they cannot tell us, they are just stressed and needed some sanity break because they obviously believe and think we will not allow it. These are, but a few of our Moff moments. How rewarded and fulfilled we must have felt, when we had to convince folks to be like us, operate in the same manner and think like us in these times, when we obviously truly do not understand their personal struggles and perhaps we do, only at a perspective of our own and aligned to the need of the enterpise. Yes, we had been Moff’s at some point.

Organizations of today have a choice. To mould immensely successfuly Moff Gideon’s based on the culture of the Galactic Empire ran by the Sith, or to have a heart and allow people to be people like the Bounty Hunter’s Guild of Greef Karga. Leaders have a responsibility to their people. Something, Moff Gideon, while definitely a leader in his own right, may have initially reluctantly chosen to overlook this responsibility, until eventually, slowly, yet surely, he had mastered the art of disregarding it for the high of the next mission, promotion of completion of task, objective and goal.

21st century leadership will continue, hopefully not, down the path of the Empire, lest leaders of today, consciously choose to veer away from operating under the same playbook for success and leadership as Moff Gideon. Leaders of today, are primarily leaders of the people in their care, before employees of the corporations, not the other way around. Until , this becomes the new playbook, we should all stop watching Star Wars in support of the Jedi and tattoo the Galactic Empire’s logo on our bodies.

May The Force Be With You!

Things I Learned From The Movie : Tenet

Tenet is a 2020 science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who produced it with Emma Thomas. A co-production between the United Kingdom and United States, it stars John David WashingtonRobert PattinsonElizabeth DebickiDimple KapadiaMichael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. The film follows a secret agent who learns to manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future that threatens to annihilate the present world.

Nolan took more than five years to write the screenplay after deliberating about Tenet‘s central ideas for over a decade. Pre-production began in late 2018, casting took place in March 2019, and principal photography lasted six months, from May to November, in Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot on 65 mm film and IMAX. Scenes of time manipulation were filmed both backwards and forwards. Over one hundred vessels and thousands of extras were used.

Delayed three times because of the COVID-19 pandemicTenet was released in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2020, and United States on September 3, 2020, in IMAX, 35 mm, and 70 mm. It was the first Hollywood tent-pole to open in theaters after the pandemic shutdown, and grossed $363 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2020. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, and won Best Visual Effects at the 93rd Academy Awards; it was also nominated for Best Production Design. (source : )

Nolan in this movie, proved to be a visionary. He will have to be so, to present something so spectacularly brain-draining, in such a beautiful combination of chaos, thrill and suspense. Personally, watching it once or twice, may not be enough to truly grasp what the message or event the plot is. Not to mention, the more recent fan theories that have enveloped it. This article, however, is not about that, so lucky break for us.

If you had not watched it, please, this is a warning, there may be some spoilers that would make you hate me and we do not want that. If you have not watched it and want to know about it, well, you will not also be getting a lot from this article, so feel free. Trying to do a smooth segue here, but if this is your first time reading an article from this blog site, you may want to read the previous articles which highlights why I am trying my best to find some practical lesson from movies (if you had, thank you for doing so!).

So, here are three things I learned from the movie.

Lesson 1: The Past, Present and Future are intertwined

Time, a concept, an experience or the progression of events from past to present into the future. We have learned how to measure it, but truly, it is hubris to claim that we have gained the mastery of understanding it. Should you like a more explicit detail of time, you may check this link and read more, but this is not about time per se, but how the movie uses the beautiful mystery of time to teach us some lessons about ourselves, others and the orchestra of life.

Tenet, in all its convoluted story lines, intimates that the past, affects the present, and it in turn, ultimately shapes the future, but most certainly, too, the future has implications reaching our past and even the present. (I think I just lost all of you there, I even feel nauseated myself).

The movie begins with a CIA agent. The Protagonist, who was tested and entrusted by an organization called Tenet, with a mission to follow the trail of inverted bullets, bullets that deviate from the physical laws of nature (the second law of thermodynamics), which the organization thinks, together with other similar items, come from the future and are remnants of some future war.

In the course of this investigation our Protagonist, gets to meet his handler, who points him to an arms dealer in Mumbai, who happens to be a member of Tenet and informs them that a Russian arms dealer has the device that can invert items.

Fairly straightforward, until, we start seeing multiple unexpected events that course the movement of the Protagonist and his handler, directly in contact with their future and ultimately, shaping the ending of the movie which is in the past.

If you are about to give up on this article, what I am pointing to, is that it may not be quite literal that the future us can collide with our present selves face to face, but the actions that we do every day in our lives will ripple through time and oblivious to it, we may be,we are not exempt from its consequences.

Yes, that elevator we did not hold for another person, the garbage we did not segregate, is unlikely to haunt our past, but will definitely affect the future, which then, technically, once we get to that future will make us regret the past, for how socially irresponsible we are for the present.

Our perspectives then ought to change and may we always think, that every other man’s life affect another.

That what we do today, even the tiniest, will ripple throughout the ages. So, may we, daily, strive to do what is right, to secure a better future, where we shall not feel ashamed looking back at our past (from that standpoint).

Lesson 2: The Mind perceives, but the Heart Knows

The movie quite distinctly, in its creative intricacy of violating known science did not leave the part of being human. We get introduced to an art curator and wife, who amidst, what most would see, befit a the description of a happy life is trapped in the present, while hoping to have made better choices in the past and fearing the future.

Though, many of us, do not really give it much thought, but such is our daily life, is it not?

We may not always feel a sense of regret at everything and sure we may have trained our minds to be more positive in letting go of things in the past, to make sure it never happens again, but emotions, on the other, the feelings, we leave them at the specific moment and can only truly recover them in nostalgia.

So, we may move on from past experience, feel confident that we have learned from it to take action in the present, but the present nor the future, can never undo the emotional breadcrumb we have left in the past. That feeling, yes, that emotional state, that only nostalgia can bring back, is something that will be left in the time frame for posterity.

This is what makes our short lives on Earth beautiful. To know that we can do the same thing over and over, but we will never feel that same way about it, as the first time, nor the consecutive instances, because each passing of time is an experience that is not imprinted in the sands of time. Such is, we should make the most out of every day, for life being short is not the problem, but time, the human soul and life are battling forces that we should make the most of.

Lesson 3: We experience Time by our Choices

It is amazing, how the movie, makes us accept all accept the fact of time-travel to be as casual as boarding a plane. If you had watched it, I bet you never had the time to even question the science behind it, well, if you did, two thumbs up, you are one of the intellectually gifted, able to keep up.

Yet for those, who had just simply missed to consider how the science works, please do not worry. It may have slipped past us because, no matter how everybody else was just disrespecting time–we all see, that the time has little consequences compared to the choices we make at the time given.

To me, the movie, required astute attention because of the plot, but it harkened our attention–because, even with the inverter, the capability to move back and forth time, with nonchalant casualty–it was the actions of everyone that dictated the outcomes. It was as if, and perhaps, in reality, very well be, that time is merely the stage we are all in, by which we are tested by the decisions and choices we make.

Then, too, with these decisions, with time as a witness, our mettle is tested, by how we stand by the consequences of them. Life can be many things–beautiful, sad, happy, fulfilled. Time can be defined philosophically, scientifically or spiritually.

But our decisions and our actions, can only be right, wrong or unknown.

Leadership Hacks from Morpheus (The Matrix)

The Matrix is an American media franchise created by writers-directors the Wachowskis and producer Joel Silver. The series primarily consists of a trilogy of superhero films beginning with The Matrix (1999) and continuing with two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (both in 2003), all written and directed by the Wachowskis and produced by Joel Silver. The franchise is owned by Warner Bros.

The series features a cyberpunk story of the technological fall of mankind, in which the creation of artificial intelligence led the way to a race of self-aware machines that imprisoned mankind in a virtual reality system—the Matrix—to be farmed as a power source. Occasionally, some of the prisoners manage to break free from the system and, considered a threat, become pursued by the artificial intelligence both inside and outside of it. The films focus on the plight of Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) trying to free humanity from the system while pursued by its guardians, such as Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). (Wikipedia)

I remember watching this on VHS, something many of us here may remember well. At least, if you are a 90s kid. If, not, well a VHS tape is similar to a cassette tape, which again is a poor trigger for visualization, considering it may have went extinct at the same time, so I’m just putting a picture below.

VHS player and tape, the entertainment set of the 90s.
The entertainment set when I was a kid.

Before I get derailed again, I am tethering us to the topic of this article–Morpheus, the visionary captain of the Nebuchadnezzar in the Matrix franchise.

If you had read the first of this Leadership Hacks From movies series, Leadership Hacks From Erwin Smith, that is awesome and thank you for finding time, doing so means you already know why I have been trying my best to learn some leadership lessons from movies, TV series and the likes. For you friends, who are just tuning in, you may want to check that article out. The writing may be horrible, but the lessons, should be helpful.

There are three Leadership Lessons I have learned from Morpheus after watching The Matrix trilogy, until its fourth installment comes to the cinema, for the nth time.

Lesson 1: Leaders Inspire

I like to think that Zion, the last human city ruled by the council, was like the head office or the corporate center. Then the Nebuchadnezzar and the rest of the hovercraft entrusted to each captain and crew,easily, on the same context, would be teams, crew and departments.

Looking at it this way, it would not be to difficult to see yourself in Morpheus, may you be a supervisor, line manager or senior management, the burden of leadership is all the same. Different titles, varied jobs, but same roles nonetheless–to lead.

While we get to meet many more captains in the course of the trilogy, there was something that made Morpheus stand out from the rest–his ability to inspire. One can only imagine that amount of inspiration needed to get everyone on board the Nebuchadnezzar operationally performing. The task is truly Herculean and the word Herculean here is used to the fullest extent of it.

The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, in The Matrix
The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar

To better appreciate the situation the offices of today offer free gyms, sauna, gaming rooms, vegan diets and many more perks bundled to keep the workforce happy and engaged. All that and maybe more, to encourage productivity, retention and engagement. Only to experience the same turn-over in employees, operational challenges and levels of disengagement. Yes, that right there is a puzzle many know the answer, to, but had not solved.

Anyway, our roles of today, are much easier compared to Morpheus’, but clearly he had better results minus all the perks. All that he had against the slew of stuff we now have at our disposal is that immeasurable capability to inspire. His will to anchor all his decisions, actions and drive to his core beliefs–which ultimately like gravity, just pulled everyone to its core.

This point takes us to the second lesson we can learn from Morpheus.

Lesson 2: Leaders Know Their Why

In The Matrix, Morpheus sacrificed himself to save Neo. Then in Matrix Revolutions, we see him let Neo take one hovercraft to Machine City for reasons Neo did not really fully articulate. Some of these decisions would have any current manager fired,or at least suspended.

When Morpheus allowed himself to be captured by Agent Smith, they were not quite sure if Neo really was the one and even still unsure if such really existed. Then, in the third installment, when the sentinels were storming Zion and all hovercraft was needed, he allowed Neo to take one for what seemed to everyone a hopeless act of desperation, when they could have brought all ships back to Zion and blast and EMP to their advantage in the war.

Morpheus undergoing torture after he sacrificed himself to save Neo.
Morpheus tortured post capture when he sacrificed himself for Neo.

All these actions where clearly not the most logical ones. In fact, their Commander, Locke, thought Morpheus had simply gone bonkers.

There is, however, underlying reasons to each and all of Morpheus’ decisions. He knew his why. He knew why he was fighting, why he was assigned to a hovercraft, why he was a captain and why he is different from the machines.

We may formulate different answers to the questions atop, but truly there was just one for Morpheus. He was fighting to end the fight, he was assigned to a hovercraft to end the fight, he was a captain to end the fight, he is different from the machines because we wants and will end the fight. Everything he did was anchored to his Why, his core beliefs, his being and purpose.

In organizations of today where roles are specialized, diverse and are multitude it is easy to lose sight of our Why. We have a different why as a person, as an employee and as a private individuals. We say that I am doing this because this is the most efficient way to complete the project, I am like this because I care for you and I am helping out because you are friend.

There is nothing wrong with that, for sure, but this siloed idealogy where we are different people to different roles, activities and times limit us from being the leaders we ought to be. Once a person finds the why, especially when a leader finds it, the viel that separates everything is removed and all becomes central to that core–the Why.

Instead of the reasons given above, it becomes–“I am doing this because I believe in making a difference, I care for you this way because I want to make a difference, I am helping you because I believe in making a difference”. As leaders, we cannot be a caring person at home and disconnected at work, neither can we be fun during engagement activities, but boring at meetings and most importantly we cannot be saying one thing and doing another.

Lesson 3: Leaders Believe In Their Teams

When Morpheus extracted Neo from the Matrix, he did so with the belief that he was the one. We are not privy as to how, though we get hints now and then. We know the Morpheus had observed Neo, who has then Mr. Anderson for quite some time and that there are some checklists that he was using as a criteria, which most likely was taken from either what the Oracle said or the prophecy,

In our corporate settings, we experience a very similar situation, too. When we are going through appications, interviewing people and all the more when we welcome them to the team. While we are not looking for the One, who will be saviour of the human race, the feeling is not entirely different. The suspense, apprehensions, and concerns mingled with hope and excitement in hiring a new colleague.

It is in this phase that we learn something from Morpheus on how he shows confidence in his crew, empowers them and makes them believe they can be bigger than themselves. To begin with, Morpheus had an on boarding and orientation process. He introduces Neo, the newbie, to the crew, then takes him to a simulated environment where Neo, the new hire, can show his ability and start learning the ropes.

Onboarding a new recruit, Morpheus style.

We do not know what Morpheus’ expectations are, but we can see from the team that being the One, definitely comes with some huge burden. Everyone seems to expect a stellar performance from the get go. This, too, is not very different when we welcome someone new to the team. Everyone will have expectations, either that the new member will be stellar or simply average, either ways, Neo’s simulation results simply demonstrated he was a newbie after all–he failed the jump simulation.

It bothered the team so much and it must have given Morpheus some thinking, too. You remember that first time you hired a new member, then the person just fumbles his way on the first day? It must have been like that. But the real leadership lesson here is what comes next.

The day after, he takes Neo to the Oracle. Yes, this was that door knob conversation about, “I can only show you the path”, but it what comes after that, should yield the real lesson.

Neo comes out of the room looking as confused as ever. Any manager today, will be worried about that. A confused look, more often than not, means disaster at work. But, as Neo starts to share what the Oracle told him, Morpheus waves his hand in the nonchalant fashion telling him that he had already heard what he was supposed to and that the message for Neo was for him alone. So where is the lesson here. It was the trust and confidence Morpheus imbued Neo.

It was his unfazed look of certainy in Neo and the series of events that led after, that contributed to Neo truly accepting his role as the One and being it. It was the trust he made Neo feel that made him become, who he hoped he would be.

In our teams where we do our best to avoid errors and opportunities, it is easy to doubt when someone new fumbles. We start questionning our hiring skills, process and maybe the training or onboarding. This even gets more piqued when the team feels that they are carrying the weight of the newbie and is not making things easier, rather tougher when the reason he was hired in the first place was to help out. What a nightmare it is, if you had felt and experience the situation, but the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar never really felt that way, nor did Morpheus who had to go through torture. The reason behind this, most likely, was that one Morpheus made everyone feel that same way he did Neo on their first day at work.

He believed in them and trusted them to deliver, and if they had opportunities he believed in them still.

Leadership Hacks from Erwin Smith (Attack on Titans)

It was somewhere around 2014 when a young, impressionable, lost and confused me, found an article on Forbes that will shape the way I will view motion pictures since.

I always knew that movies were communicating something, but never had I imagined so much wisdom drawn out from such references like Star Trek, Batman and Star Wars. It was so unique , so insightful–that I spent the night reconsidering almost every movie I had seen.

The theme of the articles were primarily about leadership which I appreciated to a certain extent,

I was in organizational development at that time, but it was only in later years that the true meaning of it made so much practical sense. At that time at least at a theoritical and conceptual standpoint I understood the information being shared, but it was not until six long years that the words came to life and with some powerful resonance.

Regardless of what industry you work for or the number of people in your team, the concept of good leadership is universal. Somehow it is intrinsically embedded in our psyche and closely linked to our own internal compass to determine what good leadership looks like and what phony is. The situations, decisions and growing pains any leader will have to hurdle are, and I am making a controversial claim here, equally important, challenging and life-defining.

So, you may not be fighting Titans in a fictional world like Erwin Smith is, but we can all certainly draw lessons from his leadership. For this piece, I had gleaned three leadership lessons we can all learn from Erwin Smith, Commander of The Survey Corps.

Erwin Smith, encouraging his Survey Corps through the gesture of giving hearts for the cause

While not all of us had the chance to be tutored by commendable leaders, I have been lucky to be in the care of some for most of my career. Looking back, I did not necessarily have the means to eloquently explain why I felt so, until recently. Not more than five years ago, I started having a team in my care and truthfully, you will always think you had it in the bag until it starts swallowing you from the ground up. I will not be ashamed to state that you will have moments of confidence, then doubts and ultimately confusion. You were of course, good at what you do, but how do you influence other people. How did you get influenced by those who led your team?

The question seemed so easy, but not everything that is based on human perception is black and white and can be easily explained. The accessibility of leadership videos, books and schools of thought, organizations and institutions will feed you that it is unthinkable for young leaders to not hit the ground running. Leadership, however, at least for me, was not something that can be learned through study, training or formal education alone and I never hit the ground running, not closely nor without pains. It is an acquired taste, fermented by experience and seasoned with time. A daunting task, of which, you have all the resources, but so few certainties.

If there is any great example of leadership we can all learn from, perhaps it can be from Erwin. With all certainty, leading people to fight against gigantic human-eating monsters is no easy task. How did Erwin do it?

Lesson 1: Leaders Lead

In Season 3, Part 2, Episode 54, titled “Hero”, Erwin leads a suicidal attack against one of the nine Titans. As leaders, we may not necessarily need to lead a head on attack that leads to certain death, but we have every opportunity to lead those in our care towards success. Those in our care expect us to bite the dust first, take the first hit, should anything go wrong and lead on. Of course, those words are quite morbid still, but what is implied is that in all levels of leadership, small or large following–leaders have the responsibility, privilege and obligation to not just go first, but take the lead. If we had instances where we had to throw people, other departments or the system under the bus, we can learn so much from how Erwin has focused all his energies around making his corps succeed amidst similar if not more complicated and corrupt inner workings.

Lesson 2: Leaders Inspire

In the corporate world of today, the competency of leadership had been measured by performance. Had Erwin been an employee of today, he would have been fired a long time ago. The series indicates that the Survey Corps has never been the choice of graduating cadets due to its high attrition, high effort and low success rate. In fact, they were so unpopular that they could barely remember having the people send them off for a long time. Before the discover of Eren’s powers, the corps had nothing, but failures on the record.

Still, you will find really powerful and smart individuals, like Levi and Hanji stick with Erwin. Translate that to employees of today who move out upon sensing that the team they are part of is not popular or difficult and they will start moving out, transferring to another team or worse resign. So how then, does Erwin retain top talent, those who we can certainly consider as the best in the realm? Inspiration.

Erwin, like all great leaders is grounded on a core belief, that even the most dire of consequences and ends cannot shake. He builds his action plans around that core belief and moves around it when necessary. That alone is inspiring. We all want to believe in something, but many of us doubt that belief and eventually just go with the bandwagon. Seeing someone firmly believe in something even unto death is remarkably charismatic.

Lesson 3: Leaders Define Success

Talking about the corps failures and Erwin totally not passing his probation in the real world makes us curious how he still holds much influence even to successfully convince people to his side on a coup de’t tat. In today’s jobs, requesting for more funds, resources or support from the organisations becomes a little steep if you had too little success to show and all the more to get the sentiment and support of other departments.

So how then did Erwin still have the ears of the other Commanders? While all the others thought of practical applications to their force, he anchored the success of the corps to an ideology. While many will argue this to be detrimental to business, which can actually bet true, the Survey Corps did not have really much of a choice. They were tasked to do what no one had done and that by definition kind of categorizes that task between improbable leaning more on impossible.

Erwin knew that the conventional meaning of success would only drag the sentiment of people and the morale of his soliders, so he had to define success differently. Every person inside the walls knew that it was nearly, if not totally impossible for humanity to venture out the walls, but he knew everyone dreamt of being out. That intrinsic human quality to hope was all that Erwin needed to continually rekindle to make his corps relevant and keep the confidence of his people and his influence amongst the higher-ups.

You may lose your job if you do so today, but then again, young leaders of today are not tasked to survey fields at the risk of being eaten. We all sit comfortably at our stations with proper ventilation and fast computers, so there really is no excuse to settle down the basic goals of our key performance indicators and tie up success to an ideal state where one does not need to be afraid with perfection, because none had achieved it yet.

Leaders have a huge responsibility. Your decisions and better judgment do not just impact the team, organisation and business. It also directly affects the lives of the people in your care, which ultimately sums up to an obligation to humanity and its betterment, especially in the years to come post COVID-19.