Leadership Lessons From the Lion King Part 1: Lessons for Young Leaders
As mentioned in my previous article, I spent last Saturday getting leadership lessons from a day at the movies. Because Lion King was the first movie I saw and one of my favorites, I have much to share from it. In order to not overwhelm you, I will share my lessons in sets: Lessons for Young Leaders, Servant Leadership, and Personal Growth.
As the Lion King is primarily about a young leader learning lessons to become the leader he was born to be let’s start with Lessons for Young Leaders.
Lesson 1: Don't rush growth.
So many young leaders today are watching the success of a few outliers and believe they deserve more trust and influence than they have earned. As an entrepreneur trying to grow a new business, I find this to be more than an age issue.
When I first decided to leave my previous position to pursue a career as a speaker, author and coach, I was given a three-year timeline by many in the field. While I was “launched” full speed ahead sooner than I had planned, I do not recommend it. Building a new direction takes time. Like Dan Miller, I recommend taking time to build into freedom. The stability of a regular income will allow you to invest in the creative parts of your early work without the need to make ends meet. This freedom will let you serve others well and not divide your interests.
However, for those who are younger, I would also recommend you not rush the process of growth. Power without wisdom destroys. Wisdom comes with experience, and that takes time.
Too many leaders who gain great influence young, find themselves looking to understand their brokenness later, after others have been hurt by their lack of wisdom. Spend your early years building yourself. There will be time to build your vocation and career when you know who you are.
(Note: I know some great, young, seemingly healthy, influential leaders, but they are the exception not the rule. Don’t let their success taint your growth.)
Lesson 2: Don’t Get Distracted by Elephant Graveyards
Distraction is the word of the day. Everywhere we look, we see fascinating opportunities just beyond the horizon. Unfortunately, these seemingly interesting excursions can be dangerous and deadly.
As more and more people embrace “life-style” over stuff, we need to be careful that we are not just new consumers, who consume airplane tickets and passport stamps instead of stereos. I am glad, the young are trying to embrace life over materials goods, but remember we all grow up.
In the end, another trip to Cabo is far less rewarding than knowing your neighbors first names, or seeing your kids graduate from high school. Relationships remain the only value that allows our lives to continue after we are gone.
While Simba tried to prove himself to Nala, in the end Simba’s relationship with his father proved to be the life saver. Elephant Graveyards surround us, but while you are young, don’t break the trust of those you love trying to seek adventure over relationship.
Lesson 3: The relationships we have today, will make us who we are tomorrow.
Although Simba, the little prince, lost his way, he found himself again when he remembered who he was. He was the son of Mufasa, the King. Recognizing how important certain people are when we are young can be difficult, but start early building healthy, deep relationships with these three groups:
1. Those who are what you hope to be.
2. Those who will come for you when you lose your way.
3. Those who will back you when you try to make positive change.
Time and again, I have seen promising young leaders with so much potential, throw it all away, because they refuse to change the people with whom they spend their time. Your true friends will be those who help you reach your potential, not the next level on Fortnite.
Building healthy relationships with good people in your twenties, sets you up for long success, and a fulfilled life.
Lesson 4: If you run with jackals, they will turn on you.
The opposite lesson is also true. If you spend your time with people who are only using you for what you can give them, and you are doing the same, eventually you will consume each other. Learn now what true jackals look like, because they can hurt you in the long run.
1. Hides in dark places to prey on the weak.
2. Cowers in fear in the presence of true greatness.
3. Lack loyalty to anyone but themselves.
4. Pick at each other when there is no one else to pick on.
5. Never hunt for themselves.
Don’t hang with jackals, don’t give your time to jackals, and don’t be a jackal. If you want a life that you can sustain and one that makes a positive impact on the world. Don’t run with jackals.
Before I close, I hope you caught the theme. While this article is truly about how to optimize your leadership, it also is about relationships. These two concepts are inseparable. Great work, great influence, and a great life are all the result of who you are committed to, not what.
Grow, then go, and choose relationship today.