Leadership Lessons from Silver Linings Playbook

When I go to the movies, I usually don’t go just to be entertained. I go to be educated. I am always looking for the leadership lessons in the movies I see. I tend to enjoy movies more if there are a lot of leadership lessons. Yesterday though, I went to see the movie Silver Linings Playbook for one reason only. I heard it was set in Philadelphia and was about an Eagles fan. Being a huge Philly sports fan, I knew it was my duty to see the movie and with the current sad state of the Eagles, I needed some entertainment on a Sunday afternoon.

Although I went for that one reason, I found myself truly engaged by the movie. Silver Linings Playbook is filled with leadership lessons. It is a story about how life doesn’t always go according to plan . The main character, Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) has lost everything – his house, his job, and his wife.  After spending eight months in a state mental institution, Pat moved in with his mother and father. He tries hard to stay positive or to look for the silver lining, but he faces many challenges. All Pat wants is to reconcile with his wife who triggered his mental problem with infidelity. But it is not Pat’s wife that helps him get back on track, it is a young woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has problems of her own who pulls Pat back on track.

Here are some of the leadership lessons that stood out to me in Silver Linings Playbook:

1. Role Modeling – Pat had a lot of problems, one of them being anger. When you watch his father (played by Robert De Niro) you can see where his anger came from. Pat was conditioned with anger. His father only communicated with him through football and that meant a lot of rage. His father was actually banned from the Eagles stadium for fighting. Throughout the movie people judged Pat because of his problems. His father was certainly guilty of this, but it was Pat’s father who helped make Pat the way he was. People become like their leader and this was clear in Pat and his father.

2. Team of Two – People are both the obstacle and the solution to every goal you will ever set. We cannot do everything or anything alone. Pat needed help and Tiffany was exactly what he needed, even if he did not know it. Everyone has problems and if we come together in teams of two we can better solve those problems. Pat made Tiffany better and she made him better as well.

3. Surround yourself with positive people – Pat was surrounded by negativity and that negated his efforts to finding a silver lining. His parents were negative, his brother was both negative and a show-off, his wife had an affair, and even his best friend talked negatively about his own life even though he had so many blessings. He had things Pat did not have. Pat was often counseling other people and he was the one with the mental illness. 

4. Clarity – I believe that the theme of Silver Linings Playbook was clarity. Pat was searching for it throughout the movie. This is why he had no idea he was actually in a relationship with Tiffany. He had no idea she was in love with him because he had no clarity. Tiffany was searching for clarity and found Pat. The two came together and things clear up for them both. They found what they were looking for and it wasn’t what they thought it would be. We all need to search for clarity. This comes from a clear purpose, vision, and mission. This comes from clearly defined goals.

Those are just some of the many leadership lessons from Silver Linings Playbook. I encourage you to go and see this great movie. It is the best movie I have seen all year. It is a leadership story. It is a love story, although you don’t know it until half-way through the movie. It is filled with funny scenes and one-liners. You will not be disappointed.

And don’t forget to look for the silver linings in your life. Remember how truly blessed you are even when times are tough. Be grateful for life and for love. No more negativity! Be positive and look for the silver lining!

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