The other day I rented “Love and Other Drugs” and I was struck by one scene in particular. Towards the end of the movie, Maggie (Anne Hathaway’s character), who has early onset of Parkinson’s disease, stumbles into a support group of Parkinson’s patients. As she listens to them share their stories and experiences – all the while shaking and trembling – from a place of strength and humor, I watched so many thoughts and emotions wash over Maggie’s face. Up until that point in the movie, her character had always loathed the disease, and seemingly loathed herself for having it, while her boyfriend had them on a frenzied quest to find a cure. As Maggie sat and listened (and cried), you could sense the peace of acceptance begin to wash over her – as well as the desire to truly live.
So, what does this say about Thoughtful Leadership? We like to think that Thoughtful Leadership begins with a strong self-awareness (and self-acceptance) and then incorporates self-determination to lead as thoughtfully and intentionally as possible. And in the process create ways to live each moment to the fullest. These are the realizations that hit Maggie, and hit her hard. So many of us are blessed – with no debilitating illnesses or circumstances – and yet I look at myself and realize that I often don’t even recognize that and simply find issues, challenges, and self-persecution with which to bring myself down. When I instead remember to be thoughtful, and aware, and fully in the moment, I not only remember that I have much to appreciate, but I also am more engaged and productive with whatever, or whomever, is around me. When I remember to notice what I do have, instead of what I don’t, life is better and I am (hopefully) a better person. I realize that Maggie is only a character in a movie, and a movie with a “Hollywood ending” at that, but perhaps we can learn from her journey into acceptance and “carpe diem” and choose to be more thoughtful and engaged in life ourselves.