Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Walter Mitty & secret beauty

Reviews of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have been mixed. As it happens, I think it is one Ben Stiller's finest movies (he directed it too). As it is (loosely) based on the Thurber short story, it is fair to say that the narrative is pretty uncomplicated. Although the film contains some troubling contradictions (would a highly skilled skateboarder become a negative images manager?), it ends up delivering a thumping good message interspersed with comedic magic (the helicopter pilot) and some quiet moments of Zen (the leopard and the football game).

Go see it. I think you will find it warming and poignant. It should make you laugh and smile lots too.

As to the leadership lesson, it would be too easy to focus on the 'Change Managing Director' who looks like a cross between the heavy baddie in Superman II and Alvin. His style of leadership is so bad as to be chillingly realistic, I worry.

But instead I would like to focus on beauty and the power of what we see that can take our breath away and make us think: what is really going on here? Without giving too much away, the film treats us to some sumptuous cinematography of places that are not widely known for their beauty. In this way, the film cleverly makes us think about how we should always go beyond the obvious caricatures of places (or people) and look instead for their secret lives too.

So in this respect, I want to suggest that good leaders never take anything at 'face value'. Good leaders seek to uncover the beauty beneath and what the real story is all about. Good leadership is about digging, exploring, revealing and finding the beauty that is always there to be found.

What beautiful thing have you noticed today?


This is the second of my new series of blogs about leadership ideas to be found in the movies of our time. You can read here as why I am doing this. Please subscribe to this blog if you want to read more. Thanks.


  1. I watched The Hobbit (possibly at the same time as you watched Mitty), the scenary and CGI was incredible.

    Or a more important note I love the theme of this article, as it's one I often speak on. We all need to practice seeing great things each day, around us and of ourselves.

    Have a wonderful new year spotting what good there is in the world and 2014 will be great.