Ready Player One

I guess the modern phenomenon of “binge watching” shows and movies has more of an effect on my media consumption habits than I would like to admit. Often, my movie going experience has more in common with stuffing myself at a buffet than savoring every bite of a gourmet meal.

This past weekend, I left my house with my twelve-year old son thinking I was going to the Golden Corral. What I received was a creative five-course meal prepared by one of the best “chefs” of our generation.

The previews for “Ready Player One” didn’t inspire me to pull out my phone and order tickets from Fandango. After all, who needs another dystopian story, highlighting the dark places our current dependence on technology might take us. Little did I know, what I would actually get is a glimpse inside the soul of one of the greatest creative geniuses of our time.

Steven Spielberg is a master at taking an audience along on an emotional journey. Think about the way “Jaws” highlights our fear of the unknown or how “ET”, defined a generation by tapping into a longing for connectedness.

My theory is “Ready Player One” flips the script. Rather than Steven Spielberg getting you to experience YOUR emotions, he gives the audience permission to participate in HIS journey through aging and transitions (I realize this could be shaped by my own current journey…see my last blog post). As we are allowed access to his inner world, we come to the realization that even the most gifted people must turn their creation over for others to steward.

In the movie, the creator of a virtual reality universe dies. Everything he has built during his entire life will be turned over to someone else. In order to decide who gets the authority to rule his creation, he plants an “Easter Egg” in the game. Whoever finds it will be awarded the ½ trillion dollars that his company is worth and the right to do with the universe as they see fit.

We follow the battle between a giant corporation (that wants to rule his creation as a means to make money) and a renegade bunch of individuals (who grow to realize they need each other).

In the middle of a ton of great 80’s music, as well as references to many of his own movies, we gain an understanding of what it must be like to be a creative genius like Steven Spielberg.

I experienced three revelations through this story.

My first observation is there is an inherent loneliness in transitions. No matter the field, leaders often experience isolation and rejection. This reality can feel even more heightened as you let go and move into a different season.

The second principle is transitions bring us face to face with regret. None of us skate through life doing everything perfectly. A sign of maturity is freely admitting what we wished we had done differently.

Finally, taking the time to hand off leadership well can bring peace. By realizing our significance isn’t found in a role, we have the opportunity to return to the simplest version of ourselves. We can rest in the fact that we are loved because of who we are, not because of what we do.

I wonder if Steven Spielberg would agree with my assessment of his journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

Seven Haikus to Celebrate Spring

Creativity and productivity are not mutually exclusive.

A favorite book of mine from last year was written by one of the founders of Pixar, Ed Catmull. “Creativity Inc.” describes the rise of Pixar from a startup company founded on the outrageous idea that computers could be used to make animated films, into the creative force that produced blockbuster hits like “Toy Story”, “Cars”, “Monsters Inc.” and “Up”.

One of the major themes throughout the book is that creativity fuels innovation more effectively than focusing on production alone. When we give our brains the space to think creatively, it can help us develop solutions in totally separate areas.

Because I’d hate for all the lessons in that great book to go to waste (and because I had a hankering to write some haikus) here are seven haikus to celebrate the arrival of spring. 

Grow

Grass is green again

No more white stuff on the ground

My lawnmower waits

Feast

Rain turns dirt to mud

Worms slide across my driveway

It’s a bird buffet

Jacket

Temperatures climb

It’s not freezing anymore

Goodbye winter coat

Weber

Start ignition light

Flames rise beneath metal grates

Burgers. Ribs. Steak. Yum!

Aloe

 Gorgeous day outside

Wear the least clothes possible

First sunburn this year

Retreat

 Flowers start to bloom

Stretching from their winter sleep

Oh no! It’s snow. Retreat.

Tissues

Fresh Air. Breathe it in.

Pollen floats. Sniffle. Sneeze. Sneeze.

Time to take Zyrtec

All right. I’m no T.S. Elliot but it’s fun to try for a day. It also feels strangely energizing.

The next time you need to be really productive, try writing a couple of haikus, painting on a canvas, or even making up your own song (depending on your musical talent, you might want to keep the performance to the shower). Giving yourself permission to be creative in one area might have added benefits in others.