Your Faults Are Gifts: 10 Leadership Lessons From “A Wrinkle In Time”
Mrs. Which, an other-worldly celestial being played by Oprah Winfrey in Ava DuVernay’s recently released, “A Wrinkle In Time,” offers the key to effective leadership and changing the world.“The gift of your faults,” is what allows the teen protagonist to find her father, Dr. Alex Murry, defeat the evil IT and perhaps save the world.There’s that.Director DuVernay’s $100 million-budgeted Disney remake of the 1962 novel by Madeline L’Engle is an ode not just to the need to access innate power in young girls and adults. It is about how each one of us can succeed as leaders.Earning $33 million at the box office in its first weekend, as No. 2 to “Black Panther,” the latest DuVernay success is a lavishly visual tribute to women, diversity, inclusion, ambition, love, science, strategy and vulnerability.[bctt tweet=”#AWrinkleInTime is a lavishly visual tribute to women, diversity, inclusion, ambition, love, science, strategy and vulnerability. “ username=“takeleadwomen”]”I know my faults, how I’m messy, uncoordinated and most days I hate myself,” says the lead character, Meg Murry, who makes the journey and successfully finds her lost father. “I’m impulsive, suspicious and yet you love me.”Acknowledging her faults and weaknesses upfront are what allows her to release the evil in IT, ironically embodies in the form of her little brother, Charles Wallace.Here are more leadership and life lessons offered in A Wrinkle In Time, by DuVernay,”the first woman of color to direct a film with a $100 million-plus budget,” writes Katie Rife in AV Club.
The powerful leadership mentoring team is all-female. Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which are the holy trinity of mentors and elders who guide Meg through the universes, to the land of Camazotz, where they let her find her own way after giving her advice and talismans. “You can’t take credit for talents, it’s how you use them that counts,” Mrs. Whatsit advises. [bctt tweet=“In #AWrinkleInTime, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which are the holy trinity of mentors and elders who guide Meg through universes. #mentorship” username=“takeleadwomen”]
A good partnership is made of big picture and small details. Meg’s parents are both working scientists, with the father in charge of the large mission and the mother in charge of the small, minute formulas, data and calculations. One without the other results in catastrophe. Good tip for any working team.
Know your history. This is the first of 9 Leadership Power Tools created by Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead. It is reiterated in the film, when Meg is advised: “You have to realize how many events and choices had to occur leading to the making of you.”
“Your energies affect what we see.” The three wise women know that how they approach a problem, a mission and a plan affects the outcome. They also know they need to let in the light and that “the wound is where the light comes in.” So mistakes are fine if they allow for growth.
“Planning is essential.” Mrs. Which pronounces this. So no impulsive individual behavior, no reactions that are emotional; the team needs to regroup when they come up against a blockade. Pre-empting chaos is a strategy.
Work life balance is essential. Beware of ambition that overtakes your life. The lesson here is the father lost his family for four years because he impulsively acted on his desire to “shake hands with the universe.” The chaos that ensues, is reiterated here: “This is what you get when you put yourself before family.” The father is remorseful and apologizes to his daughter, “I wanted to shake hands with the universe but I should have been holding yours.” So please put paid parental leave in all workplaces.
Conformity is evil. Once landed in the evil land of IT, Meg, Calvin and Charles encounter children acting alike and mothers dressed alike calling their children to dinner in the same words in the same chorus. Their cookie cutter houses also evaporate. The lesson here is acting, dressing, speaking or behaving like someone else is vapid imitation and not effective. Be yourself.
“I knew you could do it all along.” OK, so the Good Witch told Dorothy the same thing in the Wizard of OZ almost a century ago. But for women in the workplace this is a reminder of the strengths we each have that can be accessed and the power to lead that is inherent. Meg is able to access the tesseract and bend time travel.
Own your individual style. The character Calvin compliments Meg often on her natural hair and the three Mrs. W’s are also elaborately costumed. Each character embodies individual style. Sonia Rao writes in the Washington Post: ”The three Mrs. W’s exude femininity — the ‘Mrs.’ alone does that — in a way that draws from their celestial nature. The more sparkly their makeup and costumes, the stronger their powers. Light and goodness allow the trio to tesseract through time and space, and Meg’s ability to feel love allows her to fight the IT.”
A leader can earn trust. And that leader can be young and a person of color. According to Vulture: “DuVernay mentioned a key scene in the film where Meg holds out her hand to Calvin and asks her to trust him, and the young man does, following Meg into the face of danger. ‘Tell me where you’ve seen that before,’ said DuVernay. ‘If half of the executives and crew members in this town saw that as a boy, maybe they wouldn’t doubt so much that a black woman could lead. It feels slight, but we know what images do and we know the power that they have.” Diverse and inclusive teams win.
The underlying message for all women leaders embedded in this movie is very clear. An effective leader can be flawed, black, smart, young and female. And she can be mentored by amazing women who stick together and mine their own talents and flaws.[bctt tweet=“The underlying message for all women leaders embedded in #AWrinkleInTime is very clear. An effective leader can be flawed, black, smart, young and female. #womenleaders” username=“takeleadwomen”]Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther, writes about “A Wrinkle in Time” in ESPN: “But above all, it’s a film about a little black girl with glasses — like my mom, like my wife, like my big sister Ava — who refuses to accept that her dad is lost. The main character in the film, Meg, uses her love, her hope and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way.”