Leadership Lessons From Indiana Jones

95732009Throughout the past century, the silver screen has produced some of the most beloved and revered heroes of all time. Characters like James Bond, Oskar Schindler, and even Batman, have inspired us to go above and beyond in life, love, and justice. One characteristic of these men is that they were all rogue mavericks. They went against the grain to achieve greatness. One of the greatest nonconformists in cinematic history is a simple college professor. But behind the humble background, there lies a patron who stands in the face of fear, leads dozens out of danger, and rewrites history. The man: Indiana Jones. The plot: outlaw leadership.

In the Indiana Jones films, Indy takes us through action-packed adventures giving us excellent ways to deal with life’s greatest issues and how to get out of tight spots. Though there are boundless lessons we can learn from him, we’re going to look at five ways to lead like “…Dr. Jones, doll!”

Be Flexible
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indy: I’m going after that truck.
Sallah: How?
Indy: I don’t know; I’m making this up as I go.

In his adventures, Indy had a goal and plan in mind, but unknown variables seemed to be hiding around every corner. He made adjustments along the way and continued toward success. In the business world, it is crucial to make plans and steps to achieve our goals. But just like Indy, facing problems that take us off track is inevitable. To succeed, we must learn to be flexible, stay positive when things don’t go our way, and keep our focus on our goals even during side adventures.

Embrace Fear
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indy: Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?

Scene set: Dr. Jones is searching for the Lost Ark. When he gets to the last stop on the trail, he encounters his biggest fear: snakes. And isn’t that the way it always goes? Whether it’s failure or rejection, fear creeps in when we least expect it, when we feel invincible, or when we’re close to success. In Indiana’s case, it was all too real. His fear was a king cobra looking back at him. In business, most people give up and pursue a new venture. But to live like a hero, you must face your fears, defeat them, and press on to success.

Be Crazy…Like a Fox
Temple of Doom
Willie: Is he nuts?
Short Round: He no nuts, he’s crazy!

Sometimes in our lives, we must break through the fork in the road by creating our own path. If life gives you lemons…go to the store and buy a Coke! That’s exactly what our archeologist does. When he is in the middle of a rope bridge over-hanging a deep ravine, he apparently has two options, both of which include certain death. One, go to the left and face the Thuggee army. Or two, go to the right and deal with the occult leader Mola Ram. What does he do? He creates his own path by cutting the rope bridge in two with his machete. Ultimately to be a great leader, we must make decisions that separate us from the rest of the pack. We must be creative and even a little crazy sometimes.

Proceed With Caution
The Last Crusade
Walter Donovan: As you can now see, Dr. Jones, we are on the verge of completing a quest that began almost two thousand years ago. We’re just one step away.
Indy: That’s usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet.

When treading through unknown territory, you are bound to hit some rough spots. Even if you are flexible, you can still get shaken up. Whether it was the economic recession or lackluster business growth, the past few years have left most of us extremely wary. So how do we continue in creative confidence yet still be cautious? Simple. “Stay behind me, [business leader]. Step where I step, and don’t touch anything,” proclaims Indy. You can still live adventurous but be aware of your economic surroundings. Don’t do anything that puts your company in danger unless you can see a way up and out.

Always Do the Right Thing
Temple of Doom
Willie: [about the Sankara Stone] You could have kept it.
Indy: Nah, it would of just been another rock collecting dust.

Fortune and glory. This idea is in the minds of many of us. Let the end justify the means. In every one of Indiana’s adventures, this mentality of searching for his fortune and glory drove him to remote places around the globe and into the most dangerous situations. But at the end of the day, he always came back to doing the right thing. He stole the Cross of Coronado to save it. He searched for the Holy Grail in order to save his father. And when Willie points out that keeping the Sankara stone would give him his fortune and glory, he humbly gave it to the villagers. Apply this lesson as you will, but keeping your eyes on the benefit of others will make you a stronger and more effective leader.

3 Responses to Leadership Lessons From Indiana Jones

  1. Charlee November 15, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    This is a really great article! I actually printed this to keep for reference! Thanks!

  2. Izzy November 19, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    Thanks! I used this to help me with my scholarships for college 😀

  3. Dean Seddon July 13, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    Hey, I just spotted your article. I know it is a little late as this was published in 2011. I am amazed at how much you can draw from stories to learn valuable life lessons.

    I recently did a blog post on Indiana Jones. I have restarted my own blog after a 3 year break.

    Thanks for sharing. Let me know what you think of mine (be gentle)

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