Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Anaconda

Logo for Reel LeadershipToday’s Reel Leadership article comes from the 1997 movie Anaconda. Starring Jennifer Lopez as Terri Flores, Ice Cube as Danny Rich, Jon Voight as Paul Serone, Eric Stoltz as Dr. Steven Cale, Jonathan Hyde as Warren Westridge, Owen Wilson as Gary Dixon, Kari Wuhrer as Denise Kalberg, Vincent Castellanos as Mateo, and Danny Trejo as a poacher, Anaconda tells the sad tale of a movie crew hoping to see an unexplored people group.

Things go bad when Terri, Danny, Steven, Warren, Gary, and Denise pick up a stranded Paul. His presence sends their whole expedition sideways.

Ice Cube in the movie Anaconda

Prepare to go back in time to the crazy ’90s when movies were so bad they were good.

You’ll also experience a Reel Leadership experience with Anaconda. Anaconda is flush with leadership lessons. Sit back, grab the popcorn, and get ready to explore leadership through the lens of Anaconda.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Anaconda

1. Speak the language of your team:

Danny Trejo’s poacher character was seen at the very beginning of Anaconda. He’s stranded and calling for help.

First, he seeks help using the English language. He then changes to Portuguese.  He sought help in a variety of languages.

Leaders have to learn how to speak the language of their team. They have their own unique language.

Learning to speak the language of your team will help you communicate with your team. More importantly, learning their language will help you be effective with your communication.

2. Danny Rich:

Yeah, well today’s going to be a good day.

Danny was chatting with Terri about their day. He believed their day was going to be great.

They were going to get out on a boat, film their movie, and have a good time. He went into their day with a positive mindset.

While Danny was wrong about the day, he had the right mindset. He was positive.

Our days go better when we have the mindset Danny did. By believing the day will be great, we will take actions that make the day great.

Be like Danny. Believe today will be great.

3. Know where you want to go:

Terri talked with Mateo, the ship’s captain. She asked Mateo to captain the boat down a specific course.

Terri had a specific way she wanted to go. She then clearly asked the captain to go that way.

Leaders need to have a clear path or a specific course of action they want to take. This gives them direction and a way to go.

Be a leader who knows where they want to lead their organization. You open up the path to success when you know where you want to go.

This doesn’t mean you can’t change course later on. It only means you know where you want to go now.

4. Paul Serone:

Failed? Who says I failed?

After Terri and her crew picked up a “stranded” Serone, Serone talked about his past. He mentioned how he had wanted to become a priest when he was younger.

Warren said Serone had failed. Serone didn’t see it this way.

Failure isn’t an event. Failure rarely happens.

We can’t view our trials, our changes, or our situations as failures. They are learning and growing opportunities.

Be open to failing. Failing will open the door to new ways of thinking.

5. Be aware of small changes:

Terri and Cale were chatting on their boat. They saw the fireflies lighting up the skies.

It was a beautiful sight.

Then they stopped. The sky went dark. And the anaconda slithered through the waters.

Situations and things are constantly changing in the business world. Little things change and they cascade into bigger changes.

Leaders are keenly aware that the small changes are an indication of something bigger changing.

Be aware of the small changes. They will key you into the bigger changes.

6. Leaders think quickly:

The boat’s propeller had been tangled in the rope of their anchor. This stopped the boat from moving forward.

Cale decided to hop into the water and cut the rope. While in the water, he was stung by a poisonous wasp (planted by the nefarious Serone).

Serone acted quickly after the sting. He performed a makeshift tracheotomy. This saved Cale’s life.

Situations can go from good to bad to ugly quickly in the business world.

A news story breaks and businesses are destroyed. Someone is injured and the business has to shut down. A fire erupts and repairs have to be made.

Leaders have to be ready to think quickly. They also have to be ready to act quickly.

7. Terri:

Where is he taking us?

Terri began to question Serone’s story. They had run into a blocked-off section of the river.

This made Terri and the rest of her crew wonder what was going on. Their trust of Serone quickly, and rightly, began to erode.

Your actions will either encourage or discourage your team from trusting you. By being dishonest, not transparent, or shady, you will begin to lose your team’s trust.

Great leaders know they have to help build the trust of their team. It isn’t a quickly won battle. It is something that is built over time.

Build trust. Be trustworthy.

8. Great leaders go where bad leaders will not:

Mateo had fallen into the river while Serone and others were looking into an abandoned boat. Serone was unwilling to look for Mateo.

Danny was the opposite. He knew he had to look for Mateo. He was a member of the team and he could be in trouble.

Don’t be a Serone. Be a Danny.

Go where you are needed. Go where you can help people.

This is what great leaders do.

9. You know when you’re wrong:

Gary had fallen under the spell of Serone. Serone had convinced him of the money in finding the giant anaconda. Gary bought it hook, line, and sinker.

After encouraging his friends to look for the anaconda, Denise looks at Gary.

Denise’s look was disapproving. She was concerned and knew Gary wasn’t doing what was right.

Gary knew this too. He couldn’t look Denise in the eyes. He averted his gaze.

Leaders have to make many choices as they lead. They have to change direction, choose where to go next, and how to get things done.

Leaders can often make a bad choice, know it, and not own up to it.

When you’re wrong, you often can tell that you’re wrong. If you’re feeling the itch that you’re wrong, don’t do the thing you’re about to do!

10. The success you seek may be lethal:

Serone was intent on capturing the anaconda. He went as far as to use Danny and Terri as bait for the anaconda. He tied them up and placed them in the center of a trap.

The anaconda struck. It began to wrap itself around Terri and Danny. Serone sprung his trap and raised the anaconda up in a cargo net.

The trap went bad and the anaconda escaped. The anaconda went after Serone. Serone wound up being consumed by the giant snake.

Success is great. Success can also be a dangerous trap.

We see the shiny allure of success. We see what could be or what we could make.

And we go after success.

I want to warn you. Be careful about chasing success.

Our idea of success is often incorrect. We chase the wrong things and we get the wrong results. We lose what is most important to us.

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