Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. – Francis Chan
I love great writing, whether it is on a written page, lyrics to a song, movie or TV show. I regularly watch shows that I have seen before just to be reinspired by the words, like the scene of the movie in The American President, where the President finally gets angry and defends his girlfriend and his work, or the opening scene of episode 1 of the TV show Newsroom where Will McAvoy, played by our own Jeff Daniels, has one of the greatest monologues of all times about what makes America great.
My current obsession of great writing is This is Us on NBC, like most viewers, this show touches on my humanity and almost always makes me cry. In particular, an episode titled “What Now?” impacted me both as a person and as a leader. Randall, one of the main characters, is dealing with his father’s death and his own connection to his family when we are taken to a scene where Randall says to his boss:
“Ten years, Tyler. I’ve worked here for ten years. I’ve brought in 80% of our clients. I grew this company from a six-man operation into a sixty-person machine. I’ve given you 20 hour days, man, and nights away from my wife and children. My father died, man, and on the day of his memorial, you sent me pears which I’m allergic to and you know this because at the lunch where you hired me we ate Roquefort salad and I went into anaphylactic shock. And along with the pears that could have killed me, you sent a card with a one line Hallmark message and a typed-out signature “From the Team.” And for all this, Tyler, I thank you. You see for days I’ve been plagued by this question, “How do I honor my father’s legacy?” And I realize I honor it by taking what I learned from how he lived his life and having it shape how I go on living mine’s and so here it is, Tyler. Uhmm… I quit. No hard feelings, man. I walk out of here in triumph. I came. I saw. I conquered. Sanjay, It’s all you now, brother. Peace.”
Randall’s words, while dramatic and a work of fiction, contain two of the greatest lessons all leaders should bear witness to:
- Take care of people, love those you do life and work with, never be the guy that sends pears.
- Make sure that what you are doing matters, do not give a decade of your life to something that in the end was just a check and did not feed your soul.
After you watch these clips, I’d love for you to share with me what inspires you.