Friday, October 25, 2013

4 Down-To-Earth Career Lessons From Gravity

4 Down-To-Earth Career Lessons From Gravity 4 Down-To-Earth Career Lessons From Gravity
By Adrienne Johnston
Have you ever seen a movie that you just couldn't stop thinking about because of the abundance of ideas that were embedded in it? That's how I felt after I saw the film Gravity this weekend. I was amazed by what a gripping tale Alfonso Cuar�n delivered in less than an hour and a half.
The opening sequence of Gravity finds two astronauts, novice Ryan (Sandra Bullock) and seasoned captain Matt (George Clooney), fixing a satellite in outer space when fragments from a nearby explosion wreak havoc that ultimately untethers them from the space station. As in any classic action adventure, they confront harrowing obstacle after harrowing obstacle in their quest to find a way to safety.
In addition to its awe-inspiring special effects and star-studded cast, Gravity also provides us with insight into the characteristics that make us successful in business and in life. Warning: potential spoilers looming.
1. Teams Achieve More than Individuals
Matt and Ryan are a dynamic team. Matt is a conversational, farsighted captain, while Ryan uses her attention to detail to refurbish the satellite. Their skills compliment each other perfectly. Matt is the epitome of an ideal teammate, in spite of his longwinded stories.
After the accident, as Ryan flies through space, unable to modify her trajectory, she gets overwhelmed. But Matt uses his leadership abilities to calm Ryan and help her focus on identifying her location, so that he can rescue her. Through his ability to paint a compelling vision for how they will get home, he is able to inspire Ryan to fight for their lives.
Being part of an effective team and being a solid team player are essential to having a rewarding career. Being part of a team allows us to capitalize on each team member's unique strengths to achieve greater results than any single individual could alone. But even more importantly, teams also give us focus, motivation and a sense of belonging that enable us to overcome the tough times, as Matt and Ryan's teamwork demonstrate.
2. Taking Breaks Improves Productivity!
After surviving multiple suspense-filled, near-death experiences to reach the re-entry capsule, Ryan realizes that the re-entry capsule has no fuel left. Not seeing any alternatives to get back home, Ryan resigns herself to face her untimely death and suspends the oxygen in the re-entry capsule.
But, in an oxygen-deprived vision, she has a moment of extreme clarity about how to use the re-entry capsule, without fuel.
When Ryan has this realization, I smiled to myself at how often I have struggled to solve a problem, only to have the perfect solution, almost miraculously, occur to me in the shower. When we are trying to solve a problem, we have a natural tendency to fervently seek a solution. But studies indicate that taking a break can increase dopamine levels, distraction and relaxations - all of which contribute to increasing your creativity and ultimately, your ability to solve your problem.
So, when you're struggling to find a solution, while it's counterintuitive, take a break. (However, I advise against oxygen deprivation as a means of finding a solution!)
3. Creating Goals Keeps You Motivated
I was genuinely moved when Ryan, reinvigorated by the reality that she could overcome the re-entry capsule's fuel deficiency to return to Earth, enthusiastically began talking about her desire to make her daughter proud. What is that goal that motivates you? What is that beacon that inspires you to persevere, even in the toughest of circumstances? Maybe it's being successful, making your friends or family proud, or making the world a better place.
Whatever your goals are, if you can clearly express them, then you can leverage them for motivation when you need to persist in the face of adversity. As Ryan demonstrates in Gravity, goals can keep you motivated and focused - giving you more strength than you may have ever thought possible.
4. Determination Is Essential to Success
In spite of a multitude of obstacles, I was amazed by Ryan's sheer determination to get home. While the challenges she faces are more dramatic than most of us will experience in our career journeys, the concept is similar. We will continuously have hurdles to overcome. Hurdles that will test our resilience and determination to succeed like layoffs, unhappy customers or projects that we're just not excited to partake in.
But by being part of a strong team, taking breaks to recharge and being focused on your goals, you can find the energy to be completely determined, even under the worst of circumstances. With that determination comes creative solutions, more experience and success in your career.
While the backdrops are juxtaposed, these tenets that allow us to be successful in our careers are the same on Earth as they are in Gravity.
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