Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Groundhog Day

A Reel Leadership Article

Many of us out there may feel like we’ve been repeating the same day over and over again since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Layoffs, lounging around the house, and rinse and repeat…

The days can begin to blend together. My friends and I joke about it but it can be a drain.

If you’ve ever watched the 1933 comedy Groundhog Day (pick up your copy on Amazon), you know the pain Bill Murray’s Phil felt. The alarm clock sounds, you wake up, you do the same things. Heck… even your normal, daily routine could feel like Groundhog Day.

Bill Murray and a groundhog in Groundhog Day

This is one of the reasons I recently watched Groundhog Day on Netflix. I wanted to bring a little bit of laughter to my life but I also wanted to see a movie I could sympathize with now. And I could…

Phil is a weatherman sent to cover what he calls a weather forecasting “rat.” The rat is Puxatawny Phil, a groundhog that predicts the weather every year.

If he sees his shadow, he predicts six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, an early spring is predicted. For a seasoned weatherman such as Phil, this is beneath him.

Yet, when he becomes trapped in a repeat of February 2nd, he learns to embrace what he has and what he could have.

Viewers of Groundhog Day will get a good chuckle. They may even discover Reel Leadership lessons in Groundhog Day.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Groundhog Day

1. Leading is often leading into the unseen:

Phil had to report the weather to a blue screen (like a green screen but blue). The blue screen was blue to him. To the viewing audience, the blue screen showed weather images.

Looking at the blue screen, Phil couldn’t see what the audience was seeing. He was blind to what was being displayed.

He did have an idea of what was there. There were monitors he could look into and see the image imposed on the blue screen. He wasn’t blind but he was close.

When you lead, it often feels like you’re leading into the unseen. You cannot see the picture clearly. You only know where you want to go.

It’s like you’re leading on a blue screen.

That’s okay. We’re all like this. We all feel like we’re leading into the unseen… Because we are!

2. Make leadership fun:

Phil was talking about a cold front blowing in. He could have made it drab and boring. Instead, Phil chose to make the weather reporting fun.

The cold front blowing in? He pretended to blow the image of the cloud move.

It was fun. It was entertaining. It was anything but boring.

We have a choice. We can make leadership boring and drab. We can do the same things over and over again.

Or, you can make leadership fun. You can intersperse your personality into it. You can have fun with leadership.

Find ways to make your leadership style fun and engaging.

3. Rita (Andie MacDowell):

Nice attitude…

Phil was cranky. He didn’t want to be in Puxatawny, PA reporting on the groundhog once again.

There was no way around it. Groundhog Day wasn’t fun for Phil. He left his coworkers know it.

Rita saw Phil’s attitude. She called him on it.

You lead your people day in and day out. They recognize your attitude.

Be careful not to bring a sour attitude to the office. The more you do, the more you sour your team.

4. Stop trying to control your team members:

Phil, Rita, and Larry (Chris Elliot) begin to drive out of Puxatawny. They couldn’t. They run into a jackknifed semi-truck blocking a bridge. There’s also a blizzard stopping them from getting home.

Phil is getting impatient. He leans over and honks the horn. Larry was the driver and snaps at Phil.

Phil had overstepped his boundary. He crossed into Larry’s territory and Larry let Phil know this.

We hire our team members because of what they can do. These are things we typically cannot do.

So, why do we try to be like Phil? Why do we try to take back control when we’ve given it to our team?

Let your team do their job. Let them figure things out. That’s why you hired them.

5. Test your theories:

Phil begins to wake up again and again stuck in February 2nd. He wonders if this was true and what the boundaries of the reset are.

To test his theory, he takes a pencil and snaps it in half. He places the halves on the alarm clock and goes to sleep.

If he’s right, the pencil will be whole in the morning. If he’s wrong, it will be broken.

He wakes up and the pencil is whole again. He’s repeating the same day!

What can you do to test your theories? Are there simple ways you can figure out what will work?

Begin with testing small things. These are the things that won’t cause too much damage if your theories are incorrect. If your first theory proves true, move onto testing bigger things. If they fail, go back to the drawing board and try something else.

6. Phil:

Rita… I’m reliving the same day over and over again.

Phil realizes he’s reliving the same day over and over again. He has to tell someone. He decides to tell Rita.

Rita doesn’t believe him the first time. How could she? What Phil said is ludicrous!

Yet Phil had to tell someone. He had to get it off of his chest.

Leaders experience a lot of stress and struggle. Your work is unlike most people. You’re doing things others cannot.

You have to find someone to share your burdens with. You have to open up to others.

Find someone you can share your challenges with. Let them help you carry your leadership burden.

7. Phil:

What if there were no tomorrow?

Phil found himself at a bowling alley with two other guys. The two guys are drunk and they all left the bowling alley together.

After both of the drunk guys tried to drive, Phil decided he would drive them home. Then an idea hit!

Tomorrow isn’t coming. Only a repeat of today. What if there were no tomorrow and only a repeat of today?

He began living like there was no tomorrow. He would do what he wanted today and today only.

There were big chances taken. Police chases, toying with people, etc…

I don’t want you to live as Phil did. He chose to live his Groundhog Day to his own liking. He took advantage of people, at least at the beginning.

I want you to live with his idea of “What if there were no tomorrow? What would you do then?” Live life in such a way you exhaust all of your efforts into something good.

Exhaust yourself doing good. Take the chances you’re scared to take. Put good into the world.

8. You rarely end up where you start:

We learn Rita didn’t start out in journalism and broadcasting. She had actually started far from it.

Her journey began with her study of French poetry.

You may think you cannot become a leader because you never studied leadership. Or maybe you can’t lead a company because you never studied this aspect of a business.

Let me encourage you. You don’t need to start where you want to go. You only have to start.

You may have studied anthropology or zoology or sociology. Your start may be as far away from your desired position it seems impossible to do.

It’s not. Many leaders have started off far away from their current position.

Work hard. Work furiously. Work like you want it.

You can get there. You don’t have to finish where you started.

9. Phil:

It’s alright… I’m a jerk.

Phil begins to realize something as he repeats his days. He’s a jerk. He treats people rudely.

This realization sets in. He realizes he needs to change. He does.

We can be blind to our own issues. We can miss our foibles that others easily see.

Take into consideration what others say about you. They can see the things you’re missing about your personality and the way you treat others.

10. Look to constantly improve yourself:

With his days repeating and his memories sticking with him, Phil began to chase after self-improvement. He desired to learn about others, new talents, and grow himself.

It was amazing to see his growth. He chose to take piano lessons, learn French, studied poetry, and how to ice sculpt.

He improved himself.

Are you constantly improving yourself? You need to be.

Read good books. Take music lessons. Learn a new hobby.

Improving yourself will not only make you a happier person, but it can also make you a better leader.

11. Help others:

Phil also realized he needed to help others. He saw people struggling and getting hurt over and over again. He began to realize he could help people.

He did this multiple times. He caught a young boy falling from a tree. He replaced a flat tire on a car. He performed the Heimlich Maneuver. He gave a homeless person cash. He bought donuts and coffee.

He realized he could do good by helping others.

You can be like Phil. You can help others.

Look for ways you can do good for others.

If you want to watch Groundhog Day, you can pick up your copy on Amazon.

Question: If you’ve watched Groundhog Day, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Groundhog Day that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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