Everything is awesome…or can be: 5 lessons from ‘The LEGO Movie’

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Career Lessons from the LEGO movie


If you’re like me, for the past several months you’ve been startling co-workers, friends and family members by breaking into random renditions of “Everything is Awesome,” the signature song from “The LEGO Movie.” In an effort to get the song out of my head and to convince my colleagues that yes, even Legos can be work-related, I thought I’d look at what career lessons we can learn from the film.
For anyone not familiar with the plot, “The LEGO Movie” tells the story of an ordinary construction worker, Emmet, who is picked as “The Special” who can save the world from sure domination and destruction at the hands of President Business, aka Lord Business. Enlisted by a team of uniquely talented, diverse people — including a wise mystic, Batman and The Spaceman Benny — Emmet embarks on a journey he is hilariously unqualified for, picking up valuable lessons along the way.

Regardless of where you are in your own career journey, here are five lessons from The Lego Movie to help you along the way.

1. Everything is awesome.
In LEGO world: City inhabitants sing this song consistently throughout their day, blindly and blissfully unaware of approaching disaster. President Business realizes positivity is powerful and uses it for evil to keep people in line.
In your world: You can use positive thinking and reflection for good. Job search can be stressful, work can be overwhelming, and you may have days when you feel like nothing is going right. Even Emmet has moments where he feels defeated and ready to give up.
Instead of dwelling on what is going wrong, take some time each day to reflect on what is going right. Acknowledge the obstacle and then move on by envisioning your ideal future actions, behaviors, state of mind and environment. Business Insider notes that daily meditation can prevent you from burnout and get you closer to your ideal reality. A “can-do” attitude will keep you motivated whether you’re trying to save the world or find your target job.

2. Use the skills and talents that make you, YOU.
In LEGO world: Every member on the team of superheroes guiding Emmet in his journey is known as a Master Builder because they each have a unique area of skill or expertise. They believe a prophecy that Emmet is the most talented Master Builder and expect him to have similar abilities as the group. But he doesn’t. In fact, he’s pretty awful at most of the tasks the rest of the team can do with ease. Luckily, it doesn’t matter because he has other valuable talents that he can contribute.
In your world: It’s up to you in your job search and career to identify and highlight your strengths to build a personal brand. It enables employers to see the unique personality and character traits you bring to the table and how they set you apart from other job seekers.

3. Think outside the box…and inside the box.
In LEGO world: During a pivotal battle, the team of highly creative Master Builders attempts one failed outside-the-box idea after another. Finally, the responsibility falls to Emmet to save the day with a fresh idea. No pressure, right?
In your world: Many of us have faced the challenge of coming up with answers for an interview or new concepts that “wow” our audience. Stay calm by taking inventory of what you already know, creating a written list of as many ideas as possible. Avoid judging any of them right away. Instead, look for ways to improve or evolve what you wrote down. You may find an exciting new combination or alternative use for seemingly “normal” ideas that would otherwise been thrown away.

4. Don’t be the President Business of your office.
In LEGO world: President Business, an uptight company president and secret evil Lord Business, sees creativity as messy and chaotic. He attempts to keep everyone and everything in perfect, uniformed order using a robot militia of Micro Managers. In other words, he is the worst boss you could imagine.
In your world: If you manage others, create a culture that embraces a little wiggle room. Mistakes will happen occasionally and that is okay because your employees are people too. You will ultimately get better results when you foster creativity and avoid micro-management. If you’re the one dealing with a difficult boss, pick-and-choose your battles. Find ways to compromise and use your boss as a professional example for yourself of what not to do.

5. Keep priorities in sight. (SPOILER ALERT!)
In LEGO world: The LEGO Movie eventually reveals that the lives of all of the people in the LEGO universe are not real and were dreamed up by an imaginative young boy secretly playing with his father’s LEGO set. His father, referred to as “The Man Upstairs,” is the inspiration for the imaginary President Business — a controlling, strict and conventional work-a-holic who wants to build LEGOs only according to the directions. Eventually, the business-suited man upstairs comes downstairs for a little work/life balance reflection.

In your world: There is no perfect equation for balancing the activities in your life, but you can prioritize. If you feel you are neglecting an important area, whether at work or at home, consider which unnecessary or unfulfilling tasks you can cut out. Draw clear boundaries for certain activities and find time to unplug.

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