Is the job too “BIG” for me?

Most of us have been there.  Your sights are set on that dream job…that illusive promotion.  You know you could do it if you were just given the chance.

Climbing the ladder of success can be a frustrating and often long journey.  When “the” opportunity finally presents itself, it’s important to remember some important principles so you will be successful in the job you have waited for.

This week’s “my job in the movies” installment takes its lesson from the movie “Big”, the 1988 American romantic comedy film about a boy who makes a wish “to be big” to a magical fortune-telling machine and is then aged to adulthood overnight.

If you haven’t seen the movie, click here for the summary.

Now back to this week’s lesson.  Our lead character Josh, learns some lessons as he mingles with the executives at the toy company.  These can apply to us too.

#1  There is a difference in being over your head and out of your comfort zone.
In the movie, Josh impresses the company’s owner with his detailed knowledge of the toys (after all, he’s 12 years old).  He is promoted to a dream job: testing toys all day long and getting paid for it.  Sounds great but with that job also comes the financial metrics, dealing with the manufacturers and the politics of product selection.  And Josh quickly realizes the job is not what he thought.

Where’s the leadership lesson?  With any new role, there is a difference in being over your head and simply out of your comfort zone.  A new role should stretch us.  After all, it exposes us to another level of responsibility as well as navigating new relationships and accountabilities.  Our past performance gives the foundation to build upon – whether that is our functional expertise, relational experience or unique customer perspective.  Without the foundation in at least one of these areas, we are likely to be over our head.  Our readiness for a new role was only in our minds not based on a foundation for growth.

#2 People are drawn to authenticity.
Josh’s childlike approach to the office routine, co-workers and tasks does not go unnoticed.  He is different.  No pretentions and no games.  He hasn’t learned how to play those yet (remember he’s 12).  And that realness helps him succeed.  While those nuances are where the movie finds a lot of its humor, there is a nugget of truth for us. 

People are naturally drawn to authenticity.  You can’t fake real.  It is barrier that destroys trust and confidence with peers, your employee team and your leaders.  And you know what, no one is that good at faking honesty.  You’re not as good as you think you are and it will eventually ruin your success.

#3  A fresh perspective is sometimes the key to innovation.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is watching how Josh enjoys playing with the company’s toys to test them.  At one point, he shares his dislike for a particular toy because it doesn’t “do” anything.  “Toys are meant to entertain and this one isn’t fun.”  To a room of executives, this is the first time the perspective of a child enters the conversation.  His fresh perspective (the real customer) completely changed the company’s direction. 

For us, how easy is it to forget who our customer is?  Do we get so bogged down in “our” world that we forget to see our product, service or even employees from the eyes of the person that really matters – our customer?

As you would guess, our movie has a happy ending, complete with some lessons learned.  Regardless of your “size” in your organization, here’s hoping you gained a few insights as well.

A quick note to our readers:
This is our 3rd movie series articles, feel free check out Groundhog Day and The Fugitive for other leadership lessons from the big screen.

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