Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Galaxy Quest

A Reel Leadership Article

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Over 20 years ago, Galaxy Quest was released. It tells the story of the cast from the fictional television series Galaxy Quest as they must come together and face a real threat to the galaxy. These actors don’t know what to do. They’re only actors. Can they take on the evil forces and save the galaxy?

Starring Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith, Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DeMarco, the late Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane, the laughable Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan, Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman, and Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber, Galaxy Quest is a top-notch comedy. I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about this classic movie.

Cast of Galaxy Quest posing heroically.

Galaxy Quest is full of laughs. You’ll chuckle at the absurdity of the situation. Yet you’ll enjoy the pacing of the movie and how it all comes together.

With Jason’s faux leadership, you’ll do more than laugh though. You will walk away with plenty of leadership lessons from Galaxy Quest.

Strap in. We’re about to zip off to the land of Reel Leadership.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Galaxy Quest

1. Jason Nesmith (in character):

I don’t like it. Too easy.

Jason and the other Galaxy Quest cast were part of a television series. In one episode, they faced an impending threat to the galaxy. They easily handled the threat. The crew began to celebrate. They looked at their fearless leader and wondered why he wasn’t celebrating.

Jason had good reason. He understood the victory was too easy. There was something else coming. They had not secured the true victory.

We have to be cautious. When others are celebrating, we have to look around and survey the situation.

Is it the proper time to celebrate? Is everything done? Will there be more work to do immediately?

We need to celebrate. We also need to celebrate at the right time.

Make sure you’re not celebrating early.

2. Be on time:

Jason was not the nicest person. He was cocky and arrogant. He failed to show up on time.

People counted on Jason. Whether it was for a fan signing or a comic convention, he always let people down. He couldn’t be bothered to show up when he was scheduled.

We all know leaders like this. They believe they can show up when they want and how they want. They don’t have to worry about the other people in a meeting or in the office.

It’s all about them.

Well, it’s not all about the leader. As leaders, we have to lead the way. We have to show that we value the time of others.

Let’s show up on time.

3. Jason Nesmith:

Without my crew, I’m not a commander.

Jason was signing autographs. A young boy had approached him. He told the young boy something that was true but not living out.

The young boy was told, “Without my crew, I’m not a commander.”

It’s a great line. It’s true. Yet Jason failed to be a true commander.

You’re only a leader because of the people you lead. With your team, it’s hard to be considered a leader. You have to have people to lead.

4. We can struggle to see our faults:

During one of the Galaxy Quest conventions, Jason went to the men’s restroom. There, he overheard the conversation of two teenage boys.

The boys were talking about the cast of the show. Their conversation brought up the thoughts of the cast. The boys understood what the cast was feeling.

The cast thought Jason was a joke. He couldn’t show up on time. He failed to treat the other cast members with respect.

After overhearing the conversation, you could see Jason was upset. He didn’t see this in himself.

We’re like Jason. We think we’re leading well. We think we have things under control. In reality, our leadership is a dumpster fire. We have faults we cannot see.

Our team members talk about us behind our back. We’re not respecting our team. We’re failing on every level.

Everyone else sees this. We don’t.

Let’s become more aware of how we’re being viewed. You may be surprised that you’re not viewed as highly as you think you are.

5. Leaders can be deceived:

Aliens, called Thermians, showed up to talk to Jason. They believed he was a true commander. They had seen the show Galaxy Quest. Upon viewing it, they believed the show was a historical representation of Earth.

They were wrong. Galaxy Quest was fake. It was a television show that had been broadcast into space.

The Thermians were deceived. They created a whole culture based on a lie.

We have to be careful what we believe.

It’s easy to be deceived as a leader. We won’t admit to this but we know it is true.

We’ll chase after the next innovative leadership theory. We’ll implement a new productivity hack. Heck, we’ll even continue to follow outdated ways of leading because we were told it works.

We have to be aware of what we’re believing. If we’re believing and implementing the wrong things, we’re going to lead our people astray.

This doesn’t mean the deception cannot benefit you. We see the Thermians actually benefit from the deception but it doesn’t always work that way.

6. Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni):

Your courage and teamwork and friendship through adversity

Mathesar was the leader of the Thermians. He shared how they had built a whole society around the ideals of Galaxy Quest.

One of the important ideas was the fact that they saw courage and teamwork and friendship work through adversity. These things are not excluded when there is conflict. It can actually be highlighted.

Do you cringe when there’s adversity in your workplace? I want to encourage you to not do that.

Instead, look at it as a chance for your team to grow. There can be friendship, courage, and teamwork in adversity.

7. Tommy:

No pressure, huh? Glad I ain’t the Commander.

The Thermians were excited to see the crew of Galaxy Quest at work. Jason had taken the commander’s seat.

Mathesar asks if it would be acceptable if some of the alien crew watches the historic moment. Jason tells him sure.

A throng of aliens appears. There’s a large crowd ready to watch.

Tommy sees this. He’s glad he’s not the commander. He doesn’t have the pressure that the commander does.

There’s a pressure, a weight that a leader carries in an organization. The pressure is not the same as the rest of the team.

Leaders have to be willing to carry a heavier burden than anyone else in the organization. There’s a pressure you will feel that no one else will.

Bear the burden.

8. People get excited to see a master at work:

Teb (Jed Rees) was another Thermian. He became giddy with excitement at the prospect of what was happening.

Chen was going to use the digital conveyor. The digital conveyor was a device that could transport an object or person from one place to another.

The digital conveyor had never been successfully used before. This was history and the master was going to do it.

When you’re good at something, people are going to be excited to see how you work. They will want to see you succeed.

Do work so good people cannot help but watch you. Your work will speak for itself.

Help people get excited about the work to be done!

9. Go to experts for help:

Brandon (Justin Long) was a superfan of the Galaxy Quest show. He studied the layouts of the ship and knew all of the characters.

The cast of Galaxy Quest didn’t have the in-depth knowledge that Justin and his friends did. When it came time to understand the technical aspects of their ship, they had to call on an expert.

Justin remembered the nerdy Brandon from the convention. He also remembered he had accidentally switched communicators with him.

Justin reached out to Brandon for help. Brandon was willing to help him.

While Brandon was knowledgeable, he knew he didn’t have all the knowledge. He called on his friends: Kyle (Jeremy Howard), Katelyn (Kaitlin Cullum), and Hollister (Jonathan Feyer).

Together, they were able to help the crew navigate the difficulties ahead.

We can be anxious about reaching outside of our organization for help. We may think people will see us as less knowledgeable.

This is something we have to get over. People will not think this.

We cannot know everything there is to know about our jobs. We have to reach outside at some point.

Go to experts when you need help.

10. Jason:

Well, let me tell you something, Sarris (Robin Sachs). It doesn’t take a great actor to recognize a bad one. You’re sweating.

Sarris was the big bad guy in Galaxy Quest. He wanted to destroy the Thermians.

Jason confronted Sarris multiple times. In one of their last confrontations, he let Sarris know that the show Sarris was putting on didn’t cut it. He could see Sarris was nervous.

Jason also did something else during this scene. He admitted he wasn’t a great actor. He was just middling.

Here’s the thing… It doesn’t take a great leader to recognize a bad leader. It doesn’t even take a leader to recognize a bad leader.

If you’re bad, people are going to notice.

11. Jason:

I think your people have a great commander.

Upon the defeat of Sarris, Mathesar was saddened. Jason had told him that he and his crew were going home. Mathesar had desired for the Galaxy Quest crew to go to their homeworld. There, Jason could be the command of the Thermians.

Jason didn’t want to go there. He wanted to go home.

More importantly, he knew he didn’t need to be their commander. The Thermians already had a great commander in Mathesar.

Leaders have a duty to help up-and-coming leaders recognize their abilities. Jason did this to Mathesar. He encouraged him when it was his time to lead.

Encourage those leaders beneath you. They’re the next generation of leaders. You have a lot of authority and you can pass that on to others.

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