I watched the movie, Gravity, for the first time last night. Yes, I know I’m a little behind. Despite all the hype around this film at last year’s Academy Awards, and the corresponding publicity campaign, I had not seen it before. I’d say it was worthy of most of the accolades it received, and I found it to be an entertaining and action-packed 91 minutes. By the time Sandra Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, finally crawls onto the beach at the end, her metaphoric rebirth and baptism complete, I was exhausted!
Most of us don’t find ourselves dodging space debris on the job, but, as entrepreneurs, we face complex challenges all the time.
In Gravity, what starts as a textbook spacewalk quickly spins out of control. We can understand Dr. Stone’s initial panic, being caught off guard and suddenly forced into survival mode when some deadly space debris hurtles by, wreaking havoc on her carefully orchestrated mission. She is thrown physically and mentally into chaos, with no notice, no time to prepare or find a solution. Sound familiar?
When we learn that she has suffered an unimaginable loss back at home, we see her in a new light. She reveals the irrevocable damage this tragedy has caused and we realize it may be potentially more dangerous to her than the physical threats she faces in space. As the movie unfolds, she battles these internal and external demons, emerging like a mythical goddess, victorious, yet forever altered.
OK, that’s a lot of Hollywood for a Monday morning blog post! So how does this connect to my slightly less stellar daily life? First of all, anytime I am exposed to stories about strong female characters, I think about how I would handle myself in their shoes, or in this case, in a set of very large space boots. Dr. Stone survived her ordeal because she was willing to admit her weaknesses, embrace her losses and dig deep to find strengths even she didn’t know she possessed. This isn’t all that different from what I must do to stay afloat and find success as an entrepreneur.
Each of us brings our own set of experiences, impressions, previous conflicts and resolutions and interactions into our present lives. When I was a teacher, I tapped into my students’ background knowledge to help improve their reading comprehension. Outside of the classroom, this same technique applies. Our unique “schema” plays a crucial role in how we handle ourselves in particular situations. I know that most of my choices are a direct result of my learning from past encounters. I try not to repeat too many of the same mistakes, and I try to be open and available to discovering why some things go badly so I can do things differently the next time. Of course, this doesn’t always work and I’ve found myself bumping up against certain obstacles time and time again. All I can do is try to take solace in being more aware of the problem, and acknowledging why it is hard for me. That’s the first step towards bringing it into clearer perspective.
As Kurt Vonnegut said, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
Yes, we have to keep taking risks, even if we aren’t exactly sure what tools we’ll need to bring with us throughout the journey. Ultimately, Dr. Stone grew her particular version of Vonnegut’s wings during the complicated process of trying to get back home. As a small business owner, I, too, must adapt to change, sometimes very quickly, to meet the demands placed upon me by a constant stream of internal and external challenges. Ultimately, it takes a huge amount of energy to develop such nimbleness, as I attempt to successfully dodge that ever-present space debris! By staying true to myself and listening to and learning from my day-to-day experiences, I hope to grow the wings I need to reach my goals.