“We’re not in Kansas, anymore”

How often do you see similarities in movies to your own life?  I was thinking about the movie, The Wizard of Oz recently, mostly because I live in the Midwest, and life here is filled with talk of tornadoes.  Let’s face it, we love tornadoes here.  It’s true… you will often see many Midwesterners in the corners of photos and videos of deadly storms, disregarding our personal safeties for the pleasure of watching the destructive forces in action.  It is a stereotype that I do not deny.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore” is said all the time, regardless of which state you’re occupying in the Midwest.  It’s a term that takes on many meanings, mostly though, ‘that major changes have happened.’  For Dorothy, and her beloved companion Toto, ‘not being in Kansas anymore’ meant they had mysteriously traveled to the unknown, seemingly hostile, Land of Oz.  The two were undoubtedly scared, as Kansas was their home, their safe space, the place that they felt comfortable.  Now the two are set to embark on a journey filled with Nome Kings, Winkie Guards, and Wicked Witches, all things that compounded the protagonists fear of the unknown.

Luckily as the story unfolds, Dorothy and Toto are also met by 3 characters that each have their own uncertainties to be concerned for.  The Lion, searching for courage.  The Tin Woodman, searching for a brain.  The Scarecrow, searching for a heart.  Together they make the journey to the Emerald City, in search of help from the Great Wizard of Oz.

L. Frank Baum published this story in 1900, with the MGM-Produced movie coming in 1939, but the story is timeless.  Throughout the tale, the characters are forced to rely on each other’s strengths, while still being aware of their individual weaknesses.  Despite multiple attempts by the Wicked Witch, Dorothy and her companions reach The Wizard by working together.

What this movie has in common with real life is the common misconception of the ‘Value of the Journey.’  Upon completing their task for the Wizard of Oz, they realize that he is unable to give them what he promised.  Admittedly, the Wizard was ‘a good man, but a bad wizard,’ so in an attempt to console the travelers, he offers physical tokens to each character, specific to what they were searching for.  To the Lion, a Medal of Courage.  To the Tin Woodman, a ticking heart-shaped clock.  The Scarecrow received a diploma…

A medal doesn’t make us courageous, a noisy heart-shaped reminder doesn’t give us compassion or empathy, and a diploma certainly doesn’t make a person smart.  The moral of the story is that the characters had the attributes they were seeking within them the whole time.  The journey they had just completed had taught them all the most important lesson: to learn Trust.  Dorothy’s journey down the Yellow Brick Road demonstrates that in order to build trust, you need intelligence, compassion & empathy, and courage.  With out her team, Dorothy would have never returned home.

The Wizard of Oz is great story that uses metaphors to help us understand that building trust is not always easy but having trust in your journey is necessary to succeed.  In the World of Business, we need these stories to help us remember that every member of our team is valuable, because without them, the journey is not the same.  More often than not, our own misconceptions of ourselves can only be altered when we trust other members of our teams help us through the understanding that we too, have had it in us, all along.

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