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Leadership Lessons From the Lion King Part 3

Leadership Lessons From the Lion King Part 3

Leadership lessons call out to us from unexpected places, if only we have ears to hear them.

Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing from a day at the movies, specifically from the Lion King. We have considered Lessons for Young Leaders and Servant Leadership. Today I would like to share some lessons on Personal Growth.

If you as a leader hope to grow your influence over all the years of your life, you must continually grow yourself. This requires self reflection and effort. How you grow is really up to you, but here are The Lion King ideas:


Never Let Guilt Guide Your Choices.

While it is easier said than done, guilt is not a good guide. So often you over correct when you are led by guilt, and like Simba, run away, when you should stay and face the consequences of your actions early.

We all do things we regret, especially when we are young, but when you let guilt guide, you let self-defeat, self-loathing, and self-pity guide as well. Leaders, good leaders, would never choose to let these negative forces guide their steps. 

Often you treat others the way you feel, so if you feel self-defeat, self-loathing, and/or self-pity, you will lead others as if they cannot achieve, are worthless, and still not as good as you. Even as I write these words, I can feel my own frustration at bosses who have led this way. Don’t be that person. 

Instead, deal with mistakes quickly. Admit them, offer reconciliation where you can, and move on. Victors lead others well, not victims. Victors face battles and even fall in them, as often as victims, but they get up at least one more time. 

Guilt holds you down, holds you back, keeps you timid and afraid. Do not let guilt guide your choices!


Your secrets can keep you from your calling and keep us apart.

While wisdom is necessary when sharing truth, often it is the secrets that tear at relationships. 

As a leader, you should share as much as is reasonable and responsible. Your followers are looking for clarity, and secrets keep them in the dark. 

Your secrets can destroy you from the inside out. Whether your secret is moral, financial, or positional, it will divide you from those around you.

When brokenness is hidden away, it festers and grows. Struggles brought into the light lose the power to overwhelm you. I know there are secrets you cannot share with everyone, but they should be shared with someone.

American men in particular, are bad at developing deep friendships in which they can share their deepest needs. At the Relationship Black Belt Academy™, we teach leaders to be vulnerable. This first step opens the door to strength. 

When you are willing to be vulnerable with others you gain the ability to grow deep and lasting relationships. Those who do not have at least one friend of the same gender on whom they can call any time for help, reduce their life expectancy at the same rate as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Find the right places, times, and people to share your secrets, and you will find more life and freedom in all your relationships.


A carefree life sounds fun, but a love free life is empty.

We all love Timon and Pumba. Their fun, carefree attitude seems like something to which we should aspire. In truth, when you see the abundance in your world, instead of the lack, your spirit will be lighter as well. This is not all bad.

However, often times, to be carefree, means to be love free. Your loved ones may be your greatest weakness, but they are also your greatest need and strength. When you love others, you will necessarily have cares and concerns. While you should not let others become totally your responsibility, loving others does come with responsibility.

A truly care free life will be empty, because it will not have love. 

At the time of their death, many of your elders will tell you, the love they shared made life worth living, and their greatest regret remains the love they lost. 

Don’t let the world’s push to a carefree life cause you to miss out on the life that is around you. Love people, care, and then you will find the greatest abundance the world can offer.


To change your future, you must learn from your past.

You must not let your past define your future, but you must learn the lessons the past has taught. As a karate instructor, I remind my students of this truth each time they receive a promotion. They are moving on to new lessons, new ideas, new hopes, but all the work, the bruises, the growth of the past is not lost, these lessons are the foundation on which their future will be built.

Failures from your past can teach you lessons that give you strength in the future. Successes from your past can give you courage to keep moving forward. However, if you do not learn from the past you will repeat mistakes again and again. 

Learning from the past allows wisdom to make your future more secure.


Sometimes the brambles that separate you from your failures become the forests you must traverse to gain your future.

This lesson surprised me.

In all the times that I had seen the Lion King, I had never before noticed that the forest Simba traverses to return to himself and find his way home, seems to be the overgrown brambles into which he fell and crawled out of in order to reach safety from the jackals as a child. Now maybe I am reading too much into the story, but the lesson remains.

Sometimes you have to fight your way back through old hurts, old wounds, in order to discover what is standing in the way of becoming who you are meant to be. I also noticed that while coming through the brambles is often done on your own, going back usually requires a guide. 

As a Relational Arts™ Instructor, I find those I work with, regularly need to traverse gigantic trees and snares, to return to the place where they can find themselves again. This journey is never an easy one, and small hurts and struggles of your past will become massive barriers to your future if you do not navigate them carefully.

So get a guide. Someone who is trained in walking you back, so you can move forward. Never let the past stay in your way, but get help so that you can optimize your leadership potential.


I hope you have enjoyed this deep dive into The Lion King, next week we will begin to examine some lessons from Toy Story 4. If you haven’t seen it yet, I cannot promise not to have spoilers.

See you then, and don’t forget to choose relationship today.

A Stumble Is Not a Fall

A Stumble Is Not a Fall

Leadership Lessons From the Lion King Part 2

Leadership Lessons From the Lion King Part 2