We all know Disney movies offer lessons about love and self-discovery. But if you look a little harder, you’ll see some great career lessons there, too.
We all know Walt Disney Animation Studios has produced some treasured stories about self-discovery, love and growing up. Ariel becoming human and Cinderella going from rags to riches are relatable stories, even if they’re whimsical.
But as someone in the midst of a job hunt, I’ve discovered that many of my favorite Disney classics have lessons that can be applied in the professional world, too.
Here are a few of my favorite career lessons inspired by Disney movies:
1. Speak up — from A Bug’s Life
Flik was often ignored by the rest of the ants in his community. They thought he was unfocused and disruptive, when in reality he was the most innovative.
If you have an idea that you know is gold, don’t shy away during meetings. Raise your hand, get noticed, and put your idea out there. Every community of ants needs a Flik, and every company needs a problem solver.
2. Be curious — from Alice in Wonderland
Alice might have dozed off while her sister was trying to help her study, but Wonderland was too intriguing to ignore. Don’t feel the need to stay trapped where you are, doing what you’re doing. If you’ve always wondered what it might be like to quit your job and become a freelance photographer, there’s only one way you’ll get to experience what that feels like!
3. Be true to your heart — from Mulan
Always go with your gut. While I don’t recommend cross-dressing for work like Mulan had to, if there’s a warrior inside of you, don’t be afraid to let him or her out.
All along the journey, make sure you are doing what you think is right. This has an equal meaning for workplace ethics, too. Bring honor to your family (and company) and stand up for what you believe in.
4. Train hard — from Hercules
Sure, now Hercules is a hero with more muscles than the juice-head at your local gym. But remember the beginning of the movie when he was a scrawny little boy? He had to put in a lot of time and work to get from A to B.
You might not have a satyr voiced by Danny DeVito giving you motivational quips the whole way, but practice makes perfect. (Even athletic practice can make you a more valuable employee.)
5. Know your place — from The Lion King
Running away from your troubles won’t get you anywhere. (Ok, you may make some amusing friends along the way, but that’s beside the point.)
If you have a responsibility, own up to it. If you’ve taken on a big project, make sure you come through. And the same can be said for the opposite: don’t jump at the chance to take on a huge task if you aren’t ready.
6. Don’t take credit for work you didn’t do — from Ratatouille
Sometimes it’s all too easy to accept praise, even if you aren’t deserving of it. Give credit where credit is due. If you take the spotlight for work you didn’t do, at some point the rug will be pulled out from under you, and you’ll look like the rat. Alfredo was naive to think nobody would discover that Remy was really the master chef, but you’ll be smarter than that, right?
7. Hard work pays off — from The Princess and the Frog
Tiana is synonymous with dedication. She was a “slasher” before the word even existed, working two jobs to save up for her dream of opening her own restaurant. Despite the prejudice and stress in her life, she always kept her eyes on the prize. And I don’t want to spoil the movie, but Tiana’s Place is open for business!
Take a cue from her; stay focused on what you want to achieve, and make sure you’re taking steps towards accomplishing whatever that is. Set goals for yourself, like earning a promotion in 2012, and do what you can to make it a reality.
Got any Disney lessons to add?
Adam Britten is a Master of Digital Marketing Student at Hult International Business School in London. Read more about him at AdamBritten.com or chat with him on Twitter @AdamBritten.