Against all odds (namely societal discrimination, with the odd villain thrown in for good fictional measure), the heros and heroines in these films can inspire us to lead the way to our own truths and successes. Here’s how you can learn directly from each one.
1) Erin Brockovich (2000)
Not only is she unequivocally astute at stating and fighting a fierce legal case without any training or financial support, but Julia Roberts’ Erin Brockovich is completely sassy and unapologetically glamourous whilst she lays down her impressive, free speaking environmentalist law. Her right to be treated equally, to fight for the safety of a community, and to be feminine and attractive all at once inspired a tired nineties generation who had seen bleached up, passive Hollywood characters dominate the silver screen.
It had been too long since Thelma and Louise drove off the ravine, and Erin came with a spirit of leadership that can teach us a lot: gain confidence, think like a champion, practise confidence building exercises (the feistier the better!) - and never feel the need to apologise for any of it while winning your case. Life and job performance goals right there.
2) The Social Network (2010)
At first glance, Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg is just an over-zealous nerdy computer college guy. Who knew he’d take over the world? Facebook might be the bane of the 21st century in terms of procrastination, but Mark sure did innovate and inspire a lot of techies at the beginning of his career.
All life’s big questions aside, Zuckerberg as portrayed in this film is the perfect leader. He fights to do things fairly and to do right by his peers. He refuses to let the big bad wolf (or big football jock bullies) defeat him and he respects the competition and advice of his rivals (Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker of Napster fame). The Social Network teaches us to be selective about who we become friends with, and maybe a little about keeping our competition closer.
3) And I Still Rise (2016)
Maya Angelou is arguably one of the 21st century’s most inspiring and heavily quoted writers, with her tender, heartfelt and yet brutally honest meditations on life selling millions of books of hers across the planet even after her sad death in 2014. Her personal and universal key to success was to express and to fight life’s prejudices to the hilt.
When you’re coming up against discrimination or a hurdle at work, what do you do? You make like Angelou - wearing your battle scars as a badge of honour and thinking like an athlete, you rise again. Act by example in your leadership and give your peers a reason to activate too. Increase their productivity and self esteem with the sheer force of your own personality and belief. Angelou shows us that unwavering set of goals make a successful leader.
Also see: Philadelphia, Milk, The King’s Speech, Twelve Angry Men, The Devil Wears Prada, The Lion King