Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

The second film in the Indiana Jones series is actually a prequel. That’s right! Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom takes place before Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Did you know that? I didn’t until I began researching the film to write this article. I love little interesting film trivia such as this.

Promotional image for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom finds Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) teaming up with Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott (Kate Capshaw) and a precocious 12-year-old boy named Short Round (Ke Huy Quan). After a deal goes bad with Lao Che (Roy Chiao), Indiana Jones takes night-club singer Willie on the ride of her life. Short Round is Indiana Jones’s faithful companion and joins in the action as well.

It’s a smash ’em, crash ’em action-adventure movie. It’s just what I needed to watch this weekend.

It brought back smiles, laughter, and gasps as Indiana Jones partook on his adventure to find a Sankara stone and bring harmony back to an Indian village.

With that, let’s hop into this week’s Reel Leadership article. You’ll discover plenty of Reel Leadership lessons in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom.

If you want a refresher on Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, head over to Amazon to pick it up.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

1. Bad leaders play the victim:

The movie starts out with Indiana Jones meeting with Lao Che. He is there to obtain a special diamond while trading the remains of Nurhachi.

Lao had sent his son to steal the remains of Nurhachi from Indiana Jones in the middle of the night. Indiana Jones had cut the son’s hand because of his treachery.

At their meeting, Lao claimed to be insulted Indiana Jones had hurt his son. Indiana Jones retorted he was the insulted one (rightfully so).

Lao claimed to be insulted when he had no right to be insulted. He had sent people to attack and steal from Indiana Jones. Lao was playing the victim.

Bad leaders do this. They play the victim.

Something goes wrong in their organization? It’s someone else’s fault. They fail to act? There were extenuating circumstances. Poor results? Not their fault!

We can’t play the victim. Victims aren’t leaders. They’re fault finders.

Leaders own up to their mistakes. They also don’t let others control them in negative ways.

Don’t play the victim.

2. Others enjoy leading too:

Wu Han (David Yip) was a good friend of Indiana Jones. Sadly, Wu died shortly after Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom started. He was shot by Lao or one of his men.

Indiana Jones rushed to Wu’s side. He told them he would get him help.

Wu just smiled. He told Indiana Jones it was okay. He finally gets to lead the way. The great unknown will be explored by him first.

We may think we love to lead the way. However, don’t forget to give your team the opportunity to step up and lead.

Many of your team members are eager to lead the way. They want to explore the great unknown and they want to help you become successful.

Let your team members go before you. They will enjoy their own personal leadership journey too.

3. Find ways to offset your weakness:

Indiana Jones took Willie and fled Club Obi Wan after their encounter with Lao. They had to jump and roll off of multiple fabric awnings. They eventually reach the last one and fall into a car.

The car was driven by Indiana Jones’s friend Short Round. Short Round was young. He was only twelve-years-old. He was also short.

This didn’t stop him from helping Indiana Jones. He was driving the car using blocks tied to his feet.

He found a way to off-set his weakness.

Most of us know our strengths. We take tests to determine what they are. These tests also show our weaknesses.

We try to steer clear of our weaknesses. We think we shouldn’t use them. I believe we can.

We can find ways to offset our weaknesses. By offsetting your weaknesses, you can make your weakness a strength.

A great resource to discover how to do this is David Rendall’s book The Freak Factor.

4. Leadership is one adventure to the next:

Indiana Jones was a traveling man. He went from one adventure to the next. In Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, he had multiple adventures.

What adventures were these? He:

  • Escaped a madman in Club Obi Wan
  • Jumped out of an airplane using an emergency raft
  • Explored the Temple Of Doom in Pankot Palace

There was rarely a dull moment in Indiana Jones’s life. It was one adventure to the next.

I think we can learn something from the exploits of Indiana Jones. Leading an organization is much like what Indiana Jones did.

You complete one project… It’s onto the next. You help one person… It’s onto the next. You complete your task list… It’s onto the next list.

Don’t think leadership is boring. It never is. There’s always another adventure.

5. Indiana Jones:

You’re insulting them and embarrassing me.

After their crash landing in India, the people offered up a meal to Indiana Jones, Willie, and Short Round. Willie told the people she wasn’t hungry and she couldn’t eat the food offered.

Why? Because it was bugs.

Indiana Jones gave Willie a reality talk. What they were offered was more food than the people in the village ate in a week. It was disrespectful to reject the food.

We can be unintentional in our disrespect for the people we lead. We can insult them and not know it.

Be careful with how you treat your team. You’re, more than likely, coming from a different place than they are. Respect them, help them, show them the way.

6. Rules are made because of other’s actions:

Have you watched Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom? It was a decidedly dark movie. More so than the previous Indiana Jones movie or the Star Wars movie. Yet it garnered a PG rating.

Parents were outraged. They said it wasn’t suitable for young children. They were probably right. The human sacrifice, pulling out of hearts, and alligators should have garnered it a higher rating.

However, at this time, the only other rating it could have received was an R. That would’ve been too harsh.

So… a new rating was born. The PG-13 rating.

Much like the way the PG-13 rating happened, new rules in our organizations happen the same way. Someone does something that’s not in the employee handbook. It’s not a fireable offense but it’s also not something to be taken lightly.

What happens? A new rule is formed. The handbook grows. Another thing for people to watch out for.

Adding new rules and regulations isn’t bad. The movie business found this out as PG-13 became a huge moneymaker for them.

However, I also want to caution you against making so many rules. They can become overwhelming for your team. More importantly, they can become overwhelming for you.

7. Indiana Jones:

We walk from here.

Indiana Jones and his crew were being led by villagers. They came upon a scary area and the guides left Indiana Jones and his crew.

When they left, they also took their transportation. They took the elephants!

What do they do? They could have turned around. However, Indiana Jones was a leader. He told them they would continue on foot.

As you lead, things will change. People will leave. Equipment will break. Laws will change.

You have a choice at this time. You can choose to “walk from here,” meaning you continue on. The people leaving, the equipment breaking, the changing laws won’t stop you. Or you can choose to turn tail and run.

Great leaders will choose to continue on. They know where they’re going. They’re willing to take the hard way to get there.

8. Be careful of drinking the Kool-Aid:

Indiana Jones was forced to drink the Blood of Kali. This was a mystical drink that put the drinker into the Black Sleep of Kali Ma. The people were in a trance-like state. The curse made them followers of Kali.

I call this “Drinking the Kool-Aid.”

Drinking The Kool-Aid means falling into the trap of following something so close you aren’t able to discern the good from the bad. You only do what gurus or the wise-men of your organization tell you to do.

You may see this in people who choose to join bad multi-level marketing organizations. Or they fall into a cult.

They drink the Kool-Aid.

Be cautious in who you follow. Be careful not to drink the bad Kool-Aid.

9. Reality hurts:

While under the Black Sleep, Indiana Jones wasn’t himself. He slapped Short Round and put Willie into the sacrificing cage. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have done this. However, he wasn’t following the truth.

Short Round knew this wasn’t Indiana Jones. He knew he had to snap him out of it. Short Round took a torch and pushed it into the side of Indiana Jones.

This hurt Indiana Jones. Short Round’s action also caused Indiana Jones to snap out of the curse.

We can be blinded in our pursuit of success or fame. We can fall under their curse.

Breaking free from these things isn’t always easy. Sometimes we need someone to help us snap free. We need them to help us see the light.

Seeing the light isn’t painless. Being brought back to reality hurts.

We may have to hear painful words from our spouse. Or it could be the owner of your organization letting you know that you’ve misbehaved.

Whatever it is, this snap back to reality hurts. Know it is for the best.

10. Indiana Jones:

Right, all of us.

Willie had said, “let’s get out of here.” Indiana Jones agreed. However, he didn’t think it should only be Indiana Jones, Willie, and Short Round.

Indiana Jones had a bigger picture in mind. He saw the need to get the kidnapped children out of the Temple Of Doom as well.

Great leaders don’t think only about themselves. Or even their close friends.

Great leaders look around. They see who else is out there. They seek ways to help them.

Don’t forget about the people around you. You can help them. You need to help them.

11. Sometimes we get what we want but it’s not what we want:

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom have a classic mine cart chase. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s life.

The brakes on their cart go out. There’s no way to stop it. Then Indiana Jones steps in.

He hops out of the cart. He places his feet on the mine cart wheels. And he presses his feet hard into the wheels. This caused his feet to heat up.

When the cart came to a stop, he wanted water… He got water. However, it wasn’t the water he wanted.

A torrent of water had been unleashed by Mola Ram (Amrish Puri). The water was flooding the mine tunnels. It was rushing toward Indiana Jones!

As leaders, we’re driven. We know what we want. We also know we need to go after it.

A lot of times we get what we want. We’re satisfied with it.

Yet there are times when the things we desire turn out not to be what we wanted. They cause hurt, suffering, anger, and anguish.

We have to be careful about what we desire. We have to make sure we’re not desiring the wrong things.

Search your hearts. Make sure you’re chasing the right things.

If you want to relive the adventures of Indiana Jones, you can pick up The Temple Of Doom on Amazon.

Question: If you’ve watched Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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