I’m not sure I can think of even one movie that doesn’t prey on our love for the underdog. We love rags to riches stories and even I, a self-proclaimed chick flick fanatic, can get wrapped up in an action movie about an unlikely hero in a thriller-action movie.
You know the drill: we get a back story where our hero is either an ugly high school student who becomes princess of a fictional country; or, it’s an excommunicated mob member who ends up helping police save the city from his former boss. Even though the storylines might seem a little far-fetched at first, we get to know our heroes and we’re led to see their strengths – physical or not – and we start to root for them.
Funny thing is, there are so many of us who have these same strengths and these same wild dreams, but we don’t have as much faith in ourselves. So what is the disconnect here?
What is it about the big screen that makes us pull for the ugly duckling or the outcast, but get us out of the theatre and in our own heads and we can’t do the same for ourselves?
There is always that point in the movie where our hero questions him or herself for a moment and wonders if they really can pull off what they want to do. In the audience we get really worried because we know the back story and how hard they’ve worked and everything that’s riding on this. We start to feel like they deserve to win. And just so Hollywood is sure you know who the good guy is, they’ll throw in a really good unlikeable enemy so you see the contrast. I automatically think of The Plastics in Mean Girls.
The point is we’re pulling for our characters all the way, even though the odds are against dorky Mia Thermopolous (Anne Hathaway) becoming the beautiful and poised princess of Genovia in The Princess Diaries; or Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson), a wealthy business man, saving his son by some other way than paying the ransom in Ransom. Okay, so these are sort of outdated examples, but they just happen to be what I watched this week – but I think that’s the point.
This story is timeless and is probably part of the narrative going on in your head about your own life too.
The problem in our own lives is that we are too involved in the underdog part of the story and you’re not seeing the potential – you’re not seeing clearly enough where the story goes. On screen it all happens in a matter of about 2 hours and it’s probably around half way that you could guess that Lindsay Lohan is going to do something special and that Bruce Willis is going to save Christmas.
You and I have had years of backstory to deal with and maybe no big success…yet. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to win. We’ve had tons of enemies – maybe not as easy to see as Hollywood makes it seem, but they’re there and we all have the power to defeat them. We all have those surprising and specialized traits that will help us get the job done.
The trick is, we need to believe that we are the hero of our own stories, see that we can defeat all of our enemies, and see that we deserve to live happily ever after. You know your backstory better than anyone, so let your own story pull at your heartstrings and force you to believe that success is inevitable.
Think hard on this one: What is the big success you’re going for right now and why do you deserve to win? What surprising or unlikely traits do you have that will help you pull this off? What movie have you watched lately that could inspire you to believe in your own hero story?
And if you have trouble putting together all the pieces of your own epic tale, get in touch for a coaching session at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find our more about how coaching can be just like that driver guy that helps Anne Hathaway find her confidence (man, I just can’t help loving that movie!) at ashewoodward.com.