I loved reading comic books growing up. Every week, I’d make sure to hit the local comic book stores.
They were like my home away from home. Entering into Lange’s Sports Connection or Home Base or the comic shop in the rundown strip mall, my heart flooded with joy seeing the walls lined with comic books.
The last couple of summers, the feeling has returned. Only, instead of entering comic book stores, it’s from entering the movie theater.
Why? Because the movie theaters have been flooded with movies based on the comic book characters I loved growing up. X-Men, Avengers, Spider-Man, and so many other titles have hit the big screen.
It’s like childhood again.
Now, one of the characters I never followed as a child has reached the big screen. Ant-Man released on Friday, July 17th and small is the new big.
My recollections of Ant-Man are sketchy. I remember Hank Pym was married to Janet. Hank had a drinking problem. And Hank and Janet could shrink to become Ant-Man and Wasp. They were also members of The Avengers.
Other than that, I knew nothing about Ant-Man. So, it was shocking when I heard who Ant-Man was in the new movie. He was going to be Scott Lang…
WARNING: Ant-Man spoilers ahead
Leadership Lessons From Ant-Man
1. Howard Stark –
Don’t look at me. You said it.
Hank Pym and a group of investors were discussing scientific breakthroughs when one man made a snarky comment. This set Hank off and he smashed his face into the table, giving him a bloody nose.
Howard Stark looks at the man and utters the above words. He realized our words carry consequences.
It’s easy forget this leadership truth. The words we speak carry weight. Our team will listen and act on our spoken words. If the chosen words are wrong, there are consequences.
2. Send people off the right way – Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man, was an ex-con. We see this as he’s leaving prison.
The prisoners had a goodbye ritual. The prisoner being released had to take and give a few hits to another inmate.
While it’s barbaric, it was their way of sending off those they got to know.
People will come and go in your organization. Some employees you’ll be sad to see go. Others, you’ll want to throw a party.
Regardless of how you feel, send off those who have served you the right way.
Thank them for the work they’ve done. Tell them you’ll miss them. Encourage them as they step into their new position.
3. Scott Lang –
I don’t care. I’m out.
Luis, Kurt, and Dave are ex-cons, alongside Scott. They’re also looking for easy ways to score money.
One day, Scott returns home to find them sitting around discussing a new heist. Guess who they want to be a part of it?
That’s right, they want Scott and his burglering skills to be a part of the plot.
Scott has other plans. He wants to be clean. He wants to do what is right.
So, he tells his bros that he can’t. He’s out.
Telling people no can be hard. We want to please people and we also want to get things done.
Sometimes we’re presented with an easy way to accomplish our goals; though the easy way isn’t right.
We have to be willing to speak up and say “No” when an opportunity that isn’t right presents itself.
4. Deceit can end our position of leadership – Reentering society with a criminal record can be a difficult task. Many organizations struggle with hiring people who have been in prison.
Ant-Man hit on this topic with Scott’s tenure at Baskin Robbins.
Scott lied on his application and received a job taking orders. Then, one day, his manager calls him into the office and had to let him go because they found out he had been deceitful on his resume.
The same can happen to leaders. Telling half-truths and bending the situation to our benefit can bring a quick end to our tenure as a leader.
Be truthful, at all times.
5. Hank Pym –
There’s a reason I buried these secrets.
We now know that Hank Pym had the technology to shrink people. However, he was also hiding the technology because he knew it could be very dangerous.
He didn’t want the technology getting into the wrong hands. He also didn’t want to have others be hurt by his breakthrough.
We all want to make great breakthroughs. Whether it’s a new product in our industry or a way to make a process better.
However, not all innovations should be released. Sometimes it’s better to bury our progress when the outcome could harm others.
6. Maggie Lang –
You’re her hero. Just be the person she already thinks you are.
Ouch, this line hurts when you hear Maggie utter these words to her ex-husband.
Scott’s made mistakes. He wants to get better. He’s trying to improve himself. But he’s not there yet.
His ex-wife realizes this and tells him the blunt truth.
His daughter looks up to him. She sees him as a hero. He’s not there yet. He could be
How does this apply to you? Well, I know you’ve got potential. You’re already living part of it out. Keep improving and be the person you were created to be.
7. Turning your life around can be hard – Scott wants to improve his life. He wants to get away from a life of burglary. But it’s hard.
Opportunities aren’t presenting themselves to him. He’s unable to seek out organizations that will hire him. He’s feeling down and out.
If you have any sort of criminal past, you might feel this way as well. It’s hard, but you can turn your life around.
You have to search for organizations that are willing to take you on or you have to create your own opportunity. It can be done, but it will be hard. Don’t give up.
8. We are impacted by those we associate with – The story of Scott Lang takes a sad turn. We already know he’s associating with other ex-cons. These guys are looking for another score and he doesn’t want to be a part of it.
However, with the struggles he’s faced in gaining employment, he relents and asks to be a part of the next score.
Jim Rohn has an impactful quote –
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with
The people we spend time with will likely determine the path of our future. Hang out with those doing great things and you have a greater chance of moving forward in life. Hang out with those who are doing the wrong things and you’ll wind up doing the wrong things.
*This isn’t always the case but it is true more often than not
9. Sometimes you have to MacGuyver things – Scott was impacted by his friends. He decided to go back to being a burglar.
During his first outing, we see Scott having to improvise.
The safe’s he had to crack were well protected. But he knew he could get into them.
He used what was around him to break into the safes and extract the loot.
You won’t always have the perfect setup in leadership. Your team may not be the best or you may not have the right tools to do the job right.
However, you may have other tools around you that can be used to accomplish the task. Be like Scott and MacGuyver.
Use what you have and get the job done.
10. Scott Lang –
In one of his MacGuyver moments, Scott had to fill a safe with water and then cool it down. This took time and he had to wait.
After waiting, his patience paid off. The door of the safe blew off and he was able to enter the vault.
As leaders, we want to get things done. And get them done now.
We can’t always get things done on our time table. There will be times where we have to be patient. We will have to wait.
Don’t discount these times. Being patient will pay off.
11. Our busts can be our greatest opportunity – Scott was shocked by what was in the vault. A stupid, red suit.
Who would want to protect such a thing? What was so valuable about it?
He thought his burglary was for nothing.
However, we know different. This theft was the greatest opportunity of Scott’s life.
How often do we think something is a bust when events turn out differently than we think they should?
The minds at 3M thought Spencer Silver’s bust with creating a super strong adhesive wasn’t worth investigating further. It didn’t suit their needs.
Yet, with Silver’s insistence, 3M eventually got their best selling product.
All from an experiment that didn’t turn out the way they originally desired.
Don’t think things are a bust when they don’t go your way. Look deeper and see the potential that lies ahead.
12. Hank Pym –
Guess you’re tougher than you thought
Scott knew he was better than what he’d been doing. He didn’t think he was very tough, though.
After trying on the Ant-Man suit and seeing the increased strength, Hank tells Scott that he’s tougher than he thought.
There are times when we feel like we’re weak. We’re not going anywhere.
That’s not the truth. You have greatness within you. You’re tougher than you think.
You need to dig deep and pull out your greatness.
13. Take your second chance – Trying on the suit threw Scott for a loop. He didn’t know what it was and he didn’t like the initial feeling of the power of the suit.
So, he decided to return the suit from the house he stole it from. He wanted no part of it.
Hank Pym had different plans for Scott Lang though. He knew Scott had the potential and he wanted Scott to get a second chance.
You will make mistakes. You’ll screw up. You’ll think there’s no redemption.
Stop thinking this way. You’re preventing yourself from moving forward and experiencing that second chance you have.
Don’t squander it.
14. Scott Lang –
Alright, just 1 step at a time.
Stepping into his new role as Ant-Man, Scott found the suit to difficult to use. Actions such as taking a step or picking an object up, was different. His strength and speed had increased and he had to get used to these changes.
He had to take things one step at a time.
You’ll enter new roles in leadership. They’ll be different and require you to adjust.
You’ll have to take things one step at a time.
15. People are watching you – We discover that Hank Pym has been watching Scott for quite some time. He had his ant spies keeping an eye to see if he was the right man for the job.
In your position as a leader, you will discover people are watching you.
Your team members are watching to see how you act and respond to situations. Other leaders are watching to see if you have what it takes. Leaders in other organizations are watching you to see if you might be a good fit for them company.
16. You can go places and see things but still know nothing – Hank and his daughter, Hope, have a strained relationship. Hank took off after the death of his wife, Janet, and was an absent father for the most part.
In his time away, he traveled and experimented. He wanted to find answers.
When he came back to his daughter, she felt he was the same as before. He gained lots of knowledge but he knew nothing… Nothing about her.
You can fill yourself with knowledge. You can learn all you want.
You can still come up empty with knowing what really matters.
17. Hank Pym –
Are you ready to redeem yourself?
Never think you’re too far gone for a chance at redemption. We can all pick ourselves back up and be redeemed.
18. People need a leader – One of the coolest parts of Ant-Man was that they had the ability to talk to ants. Scott, when he was wearing the proper technology, could telepathically talk to the ants and have them do what he desired.
In a discussion, we hear Hank tell Scott that the ants need a leader. That leader should be Scott.
The people in your organization need a leader. They need someone to guide them and show them the way.
You may be that person.
19. Leading takes a toll – Hank Pym gave up being Ant-Man because his body and mind were being ravaged by the rapid shrinking and growth. He knew he couldn’t keep going much longer if he continued to be Ant-Man.
While you’re not going to experience the side effect Hank did in being Ant-Man while you lead, you will notice that leadership will take a toll.
Your mind will be stretched and pushed. Your emotions will be toyed with. Your stress levels will rise and fall.
Leadership is great but it also takes a toll.
20. Hank Pym –
It’s not about saving our world. It’s about saving theirs.
Man, I think this quote sums up leadership nicely. Leading isn’t about what we can do for ourselves, leadership is about the difference we can make in others’ lives.
21. Know who you need – I’ve already mentioned that Hank and Hope Pym have a strained father-daughter relationship. This comes to a head when Hope storms out of the house during a planning session.
Hank is distraught. He knows who he needs for his mission to succeed. That person is his daughter.
Do you know who you need on your team to be successful? If not, spend time seeking out wisdom in who needs to be on your team.
22. Our regrets haunt us – Hank believes his wife perished when she went subatomic as The Wasp. The thought is she will continue shrinking forever and ever.
This haunts Hank as he believes it was his responsibility to take care of his wife. Because of these regrets, he’s made poor choices with his daughter and those around him.
We’ll make mistakes as leaders. It’s inevitable.
Should we let our regrets haunt us? Probably not but they do.
Do your best to move forward from your past mistakes so your regrets no longer haunt you.
23. Hope Pym –
Get some sleep Scott.
We’re constantly trying to improve and push ourselves to the limits. Sometimes this is in the form of being sleep deprived.
This isn’t a good thing. Recent research has shown that when we lack sleep our thinking is as impaired as being drunk.
So, listen to Hope. Go get some sleep.
24. Be prepared – In what had to be one of the coolest scenes in the movie, we see Hank and Hope Pym in a perilous situation. Trapped in a room and knowing the building is going to explode, you believe there’s no hope. They’re toast.
But they’re not. Hank came prepared.
We see him reach into his pocket and pull out his keychain. Attached is what looks like a tank trinket.
Looks aren’t always what they appear to beLooks aren’t always what they appear to be. This tank isn’t a trinket. It’s a full-sized tank that had been shrunk down.
He brings the tank back to it’s true size and Hank and his daughter escape.
Leading requires us to think ahead. To think through plans and see what we will need before others know it.
25. Scott Lang –
It was never just a heist
Ant-Man and the gang had an end-game in mind. The plan was more than breaking into Pym Industries. The plan was more than destroying the Yellowjacket suit. The plan was more than destroying the shrinking formula.
Their end-game was to destroy the Pym Industries building and all the research it contained.
We see here the value of planning ahead. To know what you want to accomplish.
Do you know what you end-game is? Do you know where you want it to lead?
If not, begin creating your end-game so you know the specific direction you’re moving.
26. Our families may suffer when we lead – Yellowjacket, the villain, knows who the new Ant-Man is. He also knows he has a young daughter.
After the destruction of Pym Industries, Yellowjacket decides to attack Scott where his heart is: His family.
Those who have been in a position of leadership know there’s a danger to leading. Leading puts a target on your back and, possibly, the backs of your family.
Mud will be slung and words will be said. Not always about you.
Know that leading brings your family into the spotlight too. They may suffer because you lead.
27. Scott Lang –
I love you Cassie
In the end, Scott is reunited with his estranged daughter. Though, at first, it’s not in ideal conditions.
Yellowjacket is attacking Cassie and her family. Scott bursts in to save the day.
Scott, as Ant-Man, begins to fight Yellowjacket to save his daughter. In the midst of this, he tells Cassie that he loves her. He lets her know she is special.
I love it when movies remind us that our families are important.
We need to make sure we’re not only providing for them, we have to let them know that they are special.
We have to let our children know we love them. We have to let our wives know we love them. We have to let our friends know we love them.
Don’t forget who the important people in your life are. They’re what makes it matter.
Was Ant-Man A Good Movie?
I’ve already seen quite a few critics ripping Ant-Man apart. They say we don’t need another cheesy superhero movie. They say Marvel is saturating the market.
Is that true? I don’t believe so.
There was plenty to like in Ant-man.
There was humor. There was action. There was a subtle love story.
Ant-Man contained the quintessentials of what a movie should.
My recommendation? Go see Ant-Man. You’ll be glad you did.
Question: Have you seen Ant-Man? If so, what leadership lessons did you see in Ant-Man? If not, what was your favorite leadership lesson in this post? Let’s talk about the movie in the comment section below.
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