There are many things you can learn from animated movies if you sit back and ruminate on the chronological sequence of events in them. Shrek is one of my all time favorites and something that I can relate to, especially after I became a part of the corporate world. It has lessons to be learnt from and incidents with striking similarity with daily life of a professional. Here are some of them:
1. The mirror’s answer to Farquaad’s question: Right in the beginning of the movie, Farquaad asks the magic mirror if his land was the fairest of them all. The mirror gives him three princesses to choose from. It is this that drives the movie forward. In the corporate world, we often find something small that impacts the working of something else and then we set off on a mission to address the ‘root cause’ when it would actually be just a side effect. Then our work snowballs into something bigger.
2. Farquaad chooses the maiden in distress over the other princesses: Farquaad knows nothing about the secret spell behind the princess in the castle, but he chooses her over Cinderella and Snow White. In the corporate world, when an employee is given the choice to choose between projects, he often chooses to take up the project which seems easy and whose deadlines and requirements are easily achievable, but the truth behind it is that nobody knows how tough the seemingly possible target can become. Well we often forget that life obeys Murphy’s Law!
3. The privilege: When Shrek wins the wrestling challenge, Farquaad offers him the ‘privilege’ of rescuing Fiona from the castle if he wins. Shrek accepts it but in addition to that asks for Farquaad to vacate his swamp. Office life is marked by such lucrative offers which are no more than Trojan horses. Sometimes the HR manager says if you work on Project A, you will gain experience in something that sells hot in the market and you can add something shiny to your resume. For example, say, you have been a java resource for two years and you are to be put in a middleware project (totally hot in the market) which is something totally different from what you’ve been working on for the last few years, you will have to undergo training first and then work on the project that lasts for half a year, your resume would say that you are a java resource, who knows middleware, but you would be an expert in neither when you go for your next interview.
If you are as smart as Shrek is, you might just talk yourself out of it!
4. The fire breathing dragon is not always your enemy: Shrek thinks that the biggest obstacle is the dragon, but it is the dragon that saves them from Farquaad later on. Often people think that the boss was the person they have to impress to get a good appraisal and refrain from going to him with doubts. But mostly, it is he who cuts the guardian knot when things blow up into hazardous tasks with deadlines.
5. The best friend: Shrek is so irritated with the donkey (Eddie Murphy) who talks a lot, but donkey is the only being who does not judge him and is his true friend. Working people restrict themselves to a circle where they find themselves gaining knowledge, generally. But it is usually hard to open up in times of need to such a clique, and if they are not tight lipped, they would eventually find themselves in deep fire. People struggle from depression when the “donkey” isn’t around at times.
6. Little knowledge: When Shrek overhears the conversation of donkey and Fiona, he assumes that Fiona hates him and doesn’t know the secret that donkey harbors with her. He is devastated. Gossip spreads like wildfire in the office environments as it is the only mode of relaxation when people live amongst their competitors for eight to nine hours a day. And sometime when the word about you reaches your ear, it would be no more than a Chinese whisper. Anger and frustration on top of the daily struggle when these whispers pierce through the ears. Well, hope we were the Shreks who would find out the soothing truth later on!
7. The final prize: Love’s true form is revealed when Fiona turns into an ogress after the kiss of true love.
In any industry, we struggle, slog, backbite and work so hard with one thing in mind- the golden appraisal. But when we get it at the end of the year, it is far from what we thought it would be most of the time. After tax cut, allowances and deductions, what we really get in our fist is a handful of coins and we rant about it the following year (totally unlike Shrek though).
8. The unexpected surprise: Last but not least, Shrek puts in all the effort to save Fiona from the castle, to win his swamp back. And he ends up finding his true love unexpectedly in the end.
I see many people tuning into writing, singing, photography and movie making in their spare time. Who knows, on their way to win their bread, many of them have discovered the inner passions hidden in them. So we have no need to rant.
You never know. Probably next time you visit the mirror you might just run into Shrek. Well, the good news is that Shrek had a really happy ending, and we might just have something better than he did in store for us. If not ‘Picture abhi bakhi hai mere dost!’