4 Life Lessons from the Muppets
“I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out best. I know I drive some people crazy with what seems to be ridiculous optimism, but it has always worked out for me.” – Jim Henson
I’ve always held the view that great comedy and entertainment is build upon true appreciation of the most serious and profound aspects of life. As I sat enjoying the new Muppets Movie, in which they reunite to save their old theater, some important life lessons stuck out:
Keep in touch When Kermit tracks down his best friend, Fozzie, at a dirty casino in Reno, he apologizes for being out of touch all those years. I think we can all relate to this. Isn’t it strange how days can turn into weeks, months, even years? Time is short, so don’t miss your opportunities to share it.
Swallow your pride Kermit and Miss Piggy spend much of the movie stubbornly avoiding each other because of all their relationship baggage. But in the end, Kermit finally tells Piggy how much he misses her and asks her to stay. Whether it’s holding on to a grudge, being afraid to ask to help, or not telling someone how we really feel, protecting our egos can waste precious time and impede our progress, both personally and professionally.
Know your worth New puppet character, Walter, is in awe of the Muppets, especially his hero, Kermit. Though Walter sets the entire events of the movie in motion, he struggles with self-esteem and until the end, finds it hard to give himself credit in the midst of these seasoned stars. Sometimes it can be intimidating to interact with experts, colleagues, or other successful people we really respect. But I’m sure many of these same people would tell you that a key to their success is constantly keeping an eye out for and surrounding themselves with outstanding people. So whether you’ve “made it” yet or not, know that your unique insights and expertise are valuable. When you come from a place of respect, integrity, and passion, people will notice.
Be yourself The crew finds Animal in an anger management class, both literally and metaphorically in chains, as he tries to become more “normal.” Of course, the rest of the Muppets think this is silly and can’t wait for him to return to his rowdy, drum-playing self. This is the great thing about the Muppets – the characters are all remarkably different and unabashedly authentic. Whether it’s being shot out of cannons or telling horrible jokes, they encourage each other to do what’s in their hearts.
The very creation of the Muppets is a product of Jim Henson’s trust in himself. Imagine when he first started telling people about his idea: an intricate society of puppets, dancing around, singing and interacting with people on television? Now that sounds pretty crazy! But Henson knew the power of his vision, and his techniques forever changed the way puppetry was used on television: At a time when most puppets were still made of wood and manipulated with strings, Henson made his from flexible foam rubber for greater emotional expression, and used rods for arm movements which allowed the puppeteer to work off camera.
So embrace your inner weirdo, take chances, and never shy away from having fun.
Dana Byerlee is a corporate strategist and relational marketing expert to both Fortune 500s and startups. She has worked with Ferrazzi Greenlight, and is passionate about leveraging new technology to break down barriers and build deeper connections. @LADLynn