Leadership Lessons From FRIENDS: "The One with Ross’s Sandwich"

Today’s Leadership Lessons From FRIENDS blog features SOS President & COO Billy Moyer. Check out the previous FRIENDS blogs by Shane Montoya and Liz Davidson.

I often tell people that I look for leadership lessons everywhere. I look in movies, television shows, sports, etc. But I must say, I never really thought about the leadership lessons in FRIENDS until SOS partner, Amber Fogarty came up with the idea for this blog series. I have always been a huge fan of the show. I have seen every episode at least 10 times. But never have I thought about the leadership lessons. After thinking more about the show, it turns out that there are almost too many lessons to choose from! But rather than think about the best lesson from the show, I decided to write about one of my favorite all-time episodes, “The One with Ross’s Sandwich.”

This episode packs quite a bit into 30 minutes. There are two main plot lines in this episode and both represents a different leadership lesson. First, Phoebe enrolls in a literature class and Rachel decides to go with her. Phoebe takes the class seriously because she never had the opportunity to learn since she did not go to college. But Rachel does not take the class seriously. She does not read the book and steals Phoebe’s answer to a question. The main leadership lesson here is that Phoebe has not given up on learning. She may not have taken the traditional route in life, but she still is committed to her growth. Rachel represents most people in this episode. She says she wants to learn, but she really wants to take the easy way out. Are you committed to growth in 2013? What will you learn? Will you take a literature class like Phoebe? Or will you just try to get by doing the minimum?

The other major part of this episode is Ross’s turkey sandwich. Thanksgiving has just past (just like it has for us). Ross had a tough year. He had another failed marriage and many other things did not go his way. But the one thing he was excited about was a turkey sandwich that Monica made him. The sandwich included an extra piece of bread in the middle that was soaked in gravy, which he called the moist maker.

Ross brought the sandwich to work with him. He put it in the refrigerator and included a note so people would know that it was his. Someone ate the sandwich anyway, which enrages Ross. Monica makes him another sandwich and this time he includes a very nasty note, which makes his colleagues refer to him as mental. His boss sits down to talk with him about his anger issues and let’s it slip that he was the one who ate his sandwich. Ross loses it and yells “MY SANDWICH!” over and over. His boss becomes frightened. This leads to Ross being forced to take a leave of absence from his job.

Ross lost his temper in this episode. Many people would just laugh and assume it is simply about a sandwich, but it was more than that. His anger was a cry for help. He was hurting and a leader who is hurting, hurts others. I think we all can relate to that. How many times have we hurt someone because we were not whole?

This has been a tough year for me so I can relate to Ross. But I know I must continue to get better. I can also relate to Phoebe. I want to learn in 2013. I want to commit to growth, but I need to make sure I don’t become like Rachel and try to do the bare minimum.

In this holiday season, reflect on how you can be better in 2013. Do not lose your temper. Do not simply do the minimum. Become the best version of yourself and 2013 will be your best year ever! And after all that, if you have some time, watch some re-runs of FRIENDS! It is one of the greatest shows of all time. It is funny and how about that, there are some great leadership lessons!

Please check back with us in two weeks as our “Leadership Lessons from FRIENDS” blog series continues! 

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