Five work lessons we've learnt from films

Grab your popcorn – it’s time to revisit some classics.

Whether you watch films for some casual escapism or to be scared witless, it’s unlikely you’re there for careers advice. But those nuggets of wisdom manage to weave their way in there nonetheless. We look back on some well-known films to see what top tips we can learn from our on-screen heroes.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Work Bae is life

Where would main man, Sulley, be without his BFF and "Scaring Assistant", Mike Wazowski? From working together to try to smash their “scare totals” to exposing corporate corruption, these two have really got each other’s backs. Like any iconic duo, they have their share of disagreements, but they always come back stronger.

Let’s have some appreciation for Work Bae. Who else would put up with your tales of office woe, irritatingly loud typing and questionable brew making skills?

Sulley and Mike looking happy together.

Hidden Figures (2017)

Adapt and thrive

Lead characters Katherine, Mary and Dorothy (and their real-life counterparts) could teach us all a thing or two about perseverance in the face of struggle. As women of colour at 1960s NASA, segregated by both race and sex, the fight for professional recognition is ever-present.

Whilst Katherine is the leading lady, let’s take a moment for Dorothy. Learning that a new electronic computer could replace her and her "human computer" colleagues, she wastes no time dwelling on the disappointment. Visiting the computer room to learn the ropes and teaching herself programming from a library book, she makes herself invaluable, securing a promotion for herself and new computing roles for her team.

Change can be scary, no doubt about it, but Dorothy shows us how much can be achieved when we embrace change as a challenge not a threat.

Dorothy and her team walking confidently down the hallway.

Cool Runnings (1993)

Success can be born of failure

Loosely based on a true story, Cool Runnings sees four Jamaican sprinters have their Olympic hopes dashed when a fellow runner trips during trials, taking the others down with him. With plan B coming in the unlikely form of a bobsled team, the mismatched team manage to get to the Winter Olympics, slowly but surely edging their way from laughing stock to respected equals. It’s a tale of determination, forgiveness and what we can achieve if we pull together.

Feeling a bit miffed at recent disappointments? Your bobsled plan B might be just around the corner…

The bobsled team looking terrified during practice.

Chicken Run (2000)

Beware the epic oversell

Rocky, the stunt rooster, is no stranger to being launched out of a canon. But when Ginger and her fellow chickens see the end of his act and assume he can fly, he’s not about to correct them. Leading himself into a knot of lies and false promises of escape from the chicken farm, he’s a classic case of “oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

Rocky's not alone in stretching the truth – research from YouGov in 2017 found that 10% of Brits admitted to having lied on their CVs. If you find yourself thinking of slightly over-exaggerating your foreign language skills or failing to correct the guy who’s wrongly assumed you’re the CEO, remember Rocky and maybe think again!

Ginger holding a poster showing Rocky "flying".

Mary Poppins (1964)

Know when to move on

Don’t worry, we’re not about to suggest you become “practically perfect in every way”. Putting aside the slightly dubious method by which other candidates for Mary Poppins’ position are seen off (mysterious gust of wind, anyone?), the nanny has a lot to teach us about the two-way street of employment. She knows when she’s needed most, what she can bring, and when it’s time to move on to pastures new.

Whether you feel you’re right where you’re meant to be, or sense those winds are a-changing, there’s a lot to be said for being self-aware and willing to make difficult choices if they feel like the right ones.

Mary Poppins flying away with her umbrella.
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