Those memories of Pete’s Dragon are found memories, as vague as they are.
I remember the oddly drawn green dragon and the little orphan boy the story revolves around. Recently, Disney decided to remake Pete’s Dragon.
Can I say WOW?!? The new Pete’s Dragon was a stunning recreation of the original that made this grown man feel like a little kid.
Pete’s Dragon also held amazing leadership lessons. Let’s dig into those.
Warning: Pete’s Dragon spoilers ahead
Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Disney’s Pete’s Dragon
1. Pete’s Dad:
That’s the other thing about adventure, you’ve got to be brave
Seconds into Pete’s Dragon, we hear Pete’s dad telling Pete that adventurers are brave. They have to be. Because that’s what is required of those who take risks.
And, with a deer jumping in front of their car and an accident that kills his parents, Pete is thrust into an adventure he never thought he’d have at 5 years old. He now had to be brave himself.
Leaders are on an adventure. They push into the unknown and take others with them.
This requires bravery from leaders. Leaders have to steel themselves against the challenges that are to come.
2. Recognize there are leaders ahead of you: As Pete is chasing a rabbit, he stumbles upon a black bear in the river. Pete, being brave, puffs his chest and lets out a roar. The bear trembles and slowly slinks away.
What Pete didn’t realize at the time was that Elliot, his dragon, was behind him scaring the bear. He had someone with more experience and skill standing with him.
You’re not the first leader in your church or organization. You won’t be the last.
Know that other leaders have paved the way for you to be where you’re at today. Recognize and honor those historical leaders.
3. Meacham (played by Robert Redford):
Just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it’s not there
Leadership requires that we go where others haven’t gone before. We’re also leading others who haven’t been there either.
There will be doubts that the end is real. Don’t let that stop you.
Like Meacham said in Pete’s Dragon, not having seen something doesn’t mean it’s not there.
4. Leadership requires trust: In one scene in Pete’s Dragon, we see Pete running through the woods and over a cliff… Only to land on the back of Elliot.
Pete had a large amount of belief in Elliot to catch him. Without it, Pete wouldn’t have jumped over the cliff.
Are you building trust with your team members? Every person on your team wants to be able to trust you. Can they?
5. Leaders can do things their followers can’t: This leadership lesson from Pete’s Dragon may seem a little off-putting at first. Yet it’s true.
In Pete’s Dragon, we see Pete lead a young girl named Natalie up a tree. She had the skill to get almost to the top.
Then she slipped and fell. She couldn’t follow Pete to the top because she didn’t have the necessary skills to do so.
We see this played out in the business world every day.
There are leaders who want their team members to do what they’re not ready for. But they’re pushed and pushed and pushed to try.
Until they fail, are punished, and don’t want to try again.
Be cautious of how much you push your team to accomplish tasks they may not be ready for or are ill-equipped.
6. Bad leaders lose sight of the future: Jack and Gavin owned a logging company in the Pacific Northwest. Jack knew the company needed to go slow with the logging. His brother Gavin, on the other hand, wanted to push the limits and cut more lumber.
Gavin kept cutting and cutting and cutting. He wanted to be wealthy and known.
Through all of this, he forgot one thing: There’s only so many trees to cut if you don’t leave some for the coming years. His brother Jack realized this and tried to remind him of this fact.
We, as leaders, can lose sight of the future. We forget that we need to not only do what is right for now, we need to do what is right for the future.
Don’t lose site of what happens in the end. Keep the end in mind.
You are not alone
Grace was the woman who found Pete in the woods. She took him in and took care of him.
She also told Pete that he was not alone. He had others that would love him.
You, as a leader, are not alone unless you make yourself alone. You also can’t survive for a long time as a leader if you don’t surround yourself with others who are wiser than you are.
Don’t be alone.
8. The vision you cast might be hard for others to believe: Imagine being a character in Pete’s Dragon. You hear that a dragon has been found.
What’s your first thought? Mine, Yeah right! You gotta be kidding me.
But for these characters, the unlikely reality was that Elliot the Dragon existed. He was real.
The hard-to-believe stories were true.
The vision you cast might not be accepted by everyone. You will have haters and doubters.
However, if you have done your research, believe in your vision, and are willing to see it through to fruition, don’t give up.
9. Stay curious: The older we get, the less curious we tend to be. We lose the ability to be awed by the world around us. And that’s a killer.
In Pete’s Dragon, we see Elliot become curious and play with a sprinkler. He touched and prodded and poked the sprinkler, trying to figure out what he was seeing.
Become curious in your environment. See what’s new and exciting. Then begin poking, prodding, exploring, and examining all the amazing things in our world.
Being curious will help you become more observant of new ideas, opens up new worlds, and much more according to this article.
10. We are changed in mere moments: Early in the movie, we hear and see Meacham tell a story about meeting a dragon in the woods. Later in Pete’s Dragon, we learn the meeting was true. The story was not.
However, Meacham tells us what really happened.
At first, he was scared. He was facing a fearsome dragon. Then he was enraptured by the reality of what he was seeing. Lastly, he was changed. All of this happened in a moment.
I know this to be true.
All of these things took time but these were also specific moments that changed my life.
Be aware of the moments happening around you. They’re changing your life.
11. We will miss things: Grace thought she knew the woods of the Pacific Northwest. She explored them. She worked in them.
Still, she missed Pete and Elliot.
You may be an expert in the business you’re leading. You may even think you know everything there is to know.
Stop it. You don’t. You are missing huge opportunities because you think you know it all.
12. What we think is right may not be right: Gavin thought Elliot was a hideous beast that needed to be put down before he hurt someone.
What Gavin didn’t know was that Elliot was a gentle dragon. He’d helped raised the orphan Pete and kept him alive for all those years.
He made the mistake of thinking he knew what was right and just.
Have you been there? Have you thought an action or decision was going to be the best for your business or church only to find out you were wrong?
That happens. What matters is that you correct your mistake and move forward.
I need them
While Pete thought he only needed Elliot, he soon discovered that he needed other people as well.
Grace and Natalie became family. He began to trust them and rely on them.
Realize you’re like Pete. You need people around you. Don’t push them away.
But I don’t want to leave you
In a gut-wrenching scene, one where I cried, Pete tells Elliot he doesn’t want to leave him. He needs him as well.
This brought back the recent memories of letting go of my dog Leviticus.
We don’t want to leave the ones we love or lead. And yet we may have to.
Whether that’s because the position no longer fits, time catches up to a loved one, or some other reason, we have to leave at some point.
I won’t lie. It is hard. And it sucks. And we won’t want to leave or say goodbye in most situations.
But we have to.
Be gracious about leaving when your time has come.
Question: Have you watched Pete’s Dragon? If so, what’s one or two leadership lesson you pulled from the movie? If not, what leadership lesson from Pete’s Dragon that I shared most resonated with you? Share that in the comment section below.
Do you enjoy leadership lessons from the movies? Would you like more leadership lessons from the movies? Check out the Reel Leadership archives here for more leadership lessons from the movies.