Follow your Yellow Brick Road!
How The Wizard of Oz can help people see their ideas become a reality
As some of you may know, I’m a passionate mentor and love working with people as they navigate their way through their careers. It gets especially exciting when we get to work through a new way of thinking or business idea they’ve had.
I’ve had the fortune to work with some amazing people, both personally and professionally, especially through my mentoring business Make One’s Mark. I feel invigorated when I am the first to learn about a new idea or new thinking and I enjoy working through the exploration process. Working with people who are bravely starting their own adventure as a business owner or entrepreneur is exhilarating. Over the years, I’ve realised they all have certain traits that enable them to do the most important thing in any adventure, START!
I was watching the Wizard of Oz the other week, and I realised it gave a great platform and a fun way to analyse these entrepreneurial traits through the characters of the beloved 1939 film and 1900 book. So come with me on a journey as I explore how the Wizard of Oz helps people see their ideas become a reality.
The Characters we meet in Oz
First there’s Dorothy, she’s the dreamer, wanting to answer a question. Our entrepreneur if you like. Dorothy finds herself lost and far from home, searching for a solution and doing whatever it takes to find the answer. Then we have the Scarecrow, he’s looking for a brain, the knowledge and expertise needed to gain confidence while also helping Dorothy follow the Yellow Brick Road, to achieve her dream!
At Make One’s Mark we work with you to uncover your extraordinary! To inspire people, teams and businesses to be better than they believe they can be. To develop leaders who will create even greater leaders.Many people I work with have great ideas, they also have the knowledge and expertise to deliver on those ideas. However, some aren’t able to turn their idea into action. These people are, like the Scarecrow, searching for the brain, the knowledge, and the business acumen to bring their idea to life.
One of the major blockers most people talk to me about in getting started is doubt. Without the knowledge to execute, doubt can become crippling. Think of doubt like the Wicked Witch of the West, chasing you with her taunts and that crooked high squeal laugh. “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!“
That’s partly why consultants succeed, they help keep the Wicked Witch off our back and out of our head. Consultants use their knowledge to give advice, and support the launch of a new idea. In our story, I believe consultants are the Munchkins, (they’ll love being called that!). They are knowledgeable about the strange landscape in which Dorothy has found herself, and they celebrate Dorothy’s arrival, giving guidance, advice and support for her journey down the YellowBrick Road.
Let’s not forget the other important character at the start of this journey of new ideas, Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. Glinda is our Mentor. For those who follow my blogs you’ll know that I believe “A great mentor empowers a person to see an impossible future, and gives them the belief that it can be achieved.” Glinda reinforces this thinking by telling Dorothy,“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself!’
The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion
Continuing our cast of characters are the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. When these guys get involved, Dorothy’s team is complete. What the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are seeking are Heart and Courage, the two attributes that can really negate any doubt in launching an idea. If you have enough of these in the mix, it can change everything.
A great quote on courage by Maxwell Maltz, author of the 1960 self-help classic Psycho-Cybernetics, states“Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his idea, to take a calculated risk, and to act.”
To quote the Cowardly Lion, ‘’True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid…’’. Trust me, when starting a new venture, we are all a little afraid.
Having the Heart and Courage to just jump in and try something new can be very powerful. It brings with it inherent risks, but when done right, risks bring reward. Having the guts to “have a go” must be applauded. Heart and Courage when linked with Knowledge and hard work can conquer all. Heart and Courage will bring your idea to life, and not unlike throwing water over the Wicked Witch, the problems and obstacles often melt away!
What about confidence, I hear you ask? Confidence to do something will take you a long way down the Yellow Brick Road. In the Wizard of Oz, Toto is Dorothy’s confidence. He is always by her side, and like any great four legged companion, gives her the confidence to move ahead whilst looking out for her.
The difference between confidence and courage is interesting. My favourite definition is “True courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to proceed in-spite of it. Confidence is a faith or certainty in your ability to do something. Courage is unconditional, where-as confidence depends upon the situation at hand“.
Confidence comes to us from our experiencing of a situation, usually over multiple occasions, and understanding the outcomes of that experience. Therefore new ideas, especially ones that lead to a new business don’t lend themselves to being solved through confidence alone.
The Wizard of Oz
Where does the actual Wizard of Oz himself fit into this scenario? We could be really cynical and say that the Wizard represents the big corporates, or governments. On the outside, an impressive powerful and all-knowing entity. On the inside they can be run by people who don’t really know what they are doing! People pulling levers, spinning knobs and pushing buttons randomly whilst screaming orders, hoping someone doesn’t pull back the curtain and uncover them. Imposter syndrome on steroids. Toto, Dorothy’s confidence has the gumption to pull that curtain back and enables her to question the all-powerful Wizard (Corporates), and make things happen on her terms.
My point in all this, is don’t be afraid to take the leap. Find your courage and the heart and do something you’re passionate about. Because even those at the top, in a lot of cases, are learning as they go, looking for the next big idea or strategy, an edge, in an ever changing world. Even those with broad experience suffer from doubt. As the Wizard says, after Dorothy asks, “Weren’t you frightened?”
“Frightened? Child you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe…. I was petrified!!”
Ultimately, it comes down to us as individuals. When your next light bulb moment strikes, take comfort in knowing that bringing all the attributes together of the Wizard of Oz could give you the best chance of success. You, the entrepreneur, have your brain and your intimate knowledge of the idea. Challenge yourself to be the Lion and the Tin Man, seize the courage and heart to dive in.
Surround yourself with the right characters to get your ideas off the ground. Be as you were, the first time you watched the Wizard of Oz with child-like wonder, nervous of how the story might unfold but full of hope and excitement. Because being an entrepreneur, an ideas person, will be just like the film, filled with wonder, nervousness, doubt and curiosity as you travel through the unknown exploration of new ideas and business. One thing is for sure it will be a very big adventure.
Whoever you are, and wherever you are in your story, enjoy the journey and follow your dreams. Follow your Yellow Brick Road. Good luck, and if you want to share and discuss your ideas, I’d love to hear from you, and maybe help you work them through. After all, I could just be your Glinda!!!
About The Author:
Mark Bray is Director, Mentor and Business Coach with over 30 years’ experience working in the construction industry in the UK, US and Australia.
Marks passion, (His Why), is to inspire people and teams to be better than they believe they can be. Through true leadership, questioning the status quo and as a committed mentor, Mark strives to bring positive change and results of the highest order.