Brave is unique because it is the first Pixar Studios Disney Princess movie. Until the 2012 release of Brave, all Disney princesses were strictly Disney properties. It all changed here!
What is the story of Brave? Brave tells the story of a stubborn, prideful girl named Merida (Kelly Macdonald). Her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson), wasn’t much better. Elinor was ready to betroth Merida to a suitor.
Elinor believed they had to do things as they had always been done. She wasn’t willing to change, even if the change would help her daughter.
Both were headstrong. Both were more alike than they thought.
This sets up the conflict in the beautifully animated Brave film. It also set up the myriad of leadership lessons in the movie.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Brave
1. Leaders help people find their fit:
Fergus (Billy Connolly) is Merida’s father. He had laid down his bow on the family’s table. Merida picked it up.
The bow was much too large for the young girl. Her father noticed.
For Merida’s birthday, Fergus gifted her with a bow that was just her size.
We’ve all watched someone on our team try to pick up a leadership mantle they were unprepared for. Their attempts to lead were awkward, frustrating, and sad.
What can you do as a leader to help them?
Do what Fergus did. Find them a leadership task they can easily wield. Let them do tasks that build up to a larger leadership role.
The more you allow people on your team to grow through small tasks, the more you will enable them to grow as leaders.
A bow, Fergus? She’s a lady!
Elinor had a strict definition of what a lady does and does not do. She believed ladies do not have weapons and are not adventurous.
Elinor’s belief was one point of contention. It’s also a mindset she had to break.
Throughout the movie, Elinor changes how she views her daughter. She sees Merida slowly becoming a great woman, even if she does things unconventionally.
What preconceived notions do you have of your team? Your business? The business world?
It’s time to break those preconceived notions and rewrite what is appropriate.
You get to make the rules. You can change the way things are done.
They don’t have to be done the same way they’ve always been done.
Legends are lessons. They ring with truth.
Boom! Truth bomb and mic drop moment all in one from Queen Elinor. She realized something.
Stories are more than the words shared. Stories/Legends contain truth.
We have to look for truth in the stories we hear and share.
That’s one of the reasons behind Reel Leadership. We look at the stories in movies and the truths they share about leadership.
There’s always something we can glean from a story. Listen, learn, and grow.
4. Your team wants you to listen:
Elinor and Merida both went on rants as to what they wanted to say to one another. The mother/daughter duo didn’t realize it, but they wanted the same thing from one another.
All they wanted was for the other to listen to them. They wanted to be heard.
People are all alike in this regard. They want to be heard. They want YOU to listen.
Are you listening to those you lead? Listen to them. Understand their viewpoint. See how you can work together.
5. Emotional responses are often regretted:
Elinor was frustrated with Merida. She demanded Merida act like a princess. Elinor took Merida’s bow and tossed Merida’s prized possession into their fireplace.
Merida stormed out. Elinor pulled the bow out of the fire.
She sat there wondering what she had done. She’d let her emotions run wild and reacted because of them.
Leaders can have emotions. Don’t get me wrong. I believe emotional leaders are great. By showing emotions, you indicate that you’re human.
However, we are in trouble when we allow our emotions to have free reign over our actions.
Emotional responses are not based on data, facts, or information. Emotional responses are based on our feelings in the moment.
6. Be cautious who you deal with:
Merida left the safety of the castle. She was mad and wanted to make her mother change (much like her mother wanted her to change).
As she fled on her horse, she came to a place where the Will O’ the Wisps were. They were part of the Scottish folklore she grew up with. She knew they would lead her to a place of magic.
The wisps did. They led Merida to the Witch’s (Julie Walters) cottage. There, she petitioned the Witch to create a spell to change her mother.
The Witch eventually said yes. The Witch made a dessert Merida was supposed to give her mother. The dessert changed her mother into a bear.
This change wasn’t what Merida wanted. She wanted her mother to change her mind and how she felt and believed.
The person Merida dealt with didn’t care. She made her own rules.
The people we deal with can either help us or hinder us. Sometimes, we rush into deals and partnerships with people because the possibilities look endless.
In reality, those partnerships are dangerous. They aren’t beneficial to both parties. They’re crafted to be beneficial to one side.
There are bad people out there. Don’t do business with them.
7. The Witch:
Fate be changed, look inside. Mend the bond torn by pride.
I know, I know… I said we have to be careful who we deal with. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.
The Witch had a way of undoing the spell she’d put on Elinor. It’s not the way that the spell is undone that I want to focus on. I want to focus on the Witch’s words.
The Witch tells Merida what the big issue is. There is pride in her. There is pride in her mother.
Pride is a huge problem.
The higher you rise in leadership, the greater your risk of becoming prideful. After all, it was you that did the hard work.
Deal with pride before it becomes a problem. You’re not the be-all, end-all in your organization.
Pride will infect and destroy you. Get rid of it.
8. You don’t have to follow tradition:
The tradition stated that the princess would be married off to a suitor. Tradition didn’t sit well with Merida. She wanted a say in her destiny.
Her mother, Elinor, wasn’t keen on that. She wanted to follow tradition and brought in suitors for her daughter.
After becoming a bear, Elinor’s opinion on following tradition changed. She saw that you don’t have to do the same thing as everyone else.
In fact, as a bear, Elinor signed to Merida that she didn’t have to marry any of the young men that came to the castle.
Traditions are great. I love them. They provide consistency and stability.
Yet, traditions aren’t everything. They’re not written in stone.
You can break from tradition. You can find a new way of doing things.
Don’t let tradition hold you back.
9. The bigger organization isn’t always the best:
Elinor, in her bear form, protected Merida. Mor’du, the evil bear that had attacked Fergus and was now attacking the rest of the family, was a huge brute.
The size difference didn’t stop Elinor from stepping up.
While small in stature, Elinor was fierce. She had a reason to fight. She loved her family and wanted to protect them.
In the end, Elinor defeated Mor’du. The bear was crushed underneath a slab of rock that came from a Stonehedge-type structure.
You may be facing a massive challenge going up against a larger organization. Don’t think you’re automatically defeated. You’re not.
You may, actually, be set up for success better than the larger organization.
You’re smaller. You move more quickly. You’re able to change where they cannot.
Let your size be an advantage.