I recently saw the movie Mrs. Doubtfire again. I’d forgotten how many powerful career lessons are embedded in that story. If you’re looking for a new job, or frustrated with what’s happening in your career, watching this movie might help to inspire and motivate you to embrace change. It certainly did for me.
– What seems like a step back can be a vehicle to leap forward. Daniel (Robin Williams) goes to work as a shipping clerk for an educational media company even though he was once a very successful voice over actor. That job leads him to the opportunity to bring the character of Mrs. Doubtfire to a wide audience.
– While we might feel hampered by personal obligations that make it difficult to make career changes, those obligations can be our salvation. Because Daniel had to earn a living to get visitation rights to see his children and get his own apartment, he had to work several jobs. This combination of demanding responsibilities helped him to become a better person and a better father.
– Be who you are and be prepared to contribute in a creative way, even if that’s not in your job description. Daniel could have kept his head down as a shipping clerk, but instead he voiced his creative ideas at the right time to the right person. This decision to share his ideas led him to the opportunity to get out of the shipping dock and back onto the stage where he wanted to be.
– It’s okay to be angry, frustrated, afraid, and upset. Use these emotions to your advantage by using them as fuel for change. Daniel exhibits all of these emotions, and rightly so. The key is that he felt them fully. And yes, he sometimes lashed out at others as a result. But most of the time he channeled the emotions to motivate him to learn how to cook, keep a clean and orderly house, and to work hard at his multiple jobs.
Mrs. Doubtfire has been one of my favorite movies ever since I first saw it over 20 years ago. It was only this week that I realized what wonderful lessons it holds for all of us in the midst of a career transition, or thinking about one. If Mrs. Doubtfire can do it, so can we.