Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Inside Out 2

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

Disney and Pixar bring us back to the world of Riley (Kensington Tallman), a young girl with a whole world of emotions. If you remember the first Inside Out movie, you will remember her journey of coming to terms with her conflicting emotions.

In Inside Out 2, Riley’s original emotions return. We’re treated to the likes of:

  • Joy (Amy Poehler)
  • Anger (Lewis Black)
  • Sadness (Phyllis Smith)
  • Fear (Tony Hale)
  • Disgust (Liza Lapira)

Joy (a blue-haired woman) and Anxiety (a creature with a worried expression) with colored balls behind them. Scene from Inside Out 2.

These emotions are pushed out as 13-year-old Riley hits puberty. New emotions arrive and begin to create havoc in her life. These new emotions are:

  • Anxiety (Maya Hawke)
  • Envy (Ayo Edebiri)
  • Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser)
  • Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos)

When the emotions cannot get along, these new emotions banish Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust. They’re no longer in control of Riley. These new emotions take control.

What happens next is a journey into the crazy mind of a teenager scared of losing their best friends, trying to impress new friends, and the struggles of growing up.

All of this can help us lead others. Join me as we explore the world of Inside Out 2 and consider its leadership lessons.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Inside Out 2

1. Great leaders introduce the team:

Riley is on the ice, getting ready to play the great game of hockey. The emotion Joy says, “Let’s meet the team.” 

Joy then begins to list off the emotions currently inhabiting Riley. They are Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust. 

All emotions we’ve met before but are reintroduced to. It’s a great way to help the audience understand who’s who.

Leaders should also consider doing this more often. Teams are regularly spread across the country, working hybrid or completely remote schedules and may never run into one another.

Don’t be afraid to reintroduce or reconnect your team. The better your team members know one another, the better they’ll work together.

2. Our memories create our sense of self:

There’s a girl sharing with Riley’s class about change. She told the class that change can change the world. 

As she shared, she spilled the coins all over the classroom floor. Riley had a choice. She could help pick up the coins or remain seated. Riley chose to get up, help the girl, and comfort her.

This moment helped shape Riley’s core belief that she’s a good person. She helps others. She cares for others. 

Each memory can be used to shape how we see ourselves. I see this as creating our core beliefs. 

Core beliefs are what we believe about ourselves. Are we a good person? Do we do the right thing under pressure? Can we treat others with respect?

We reaffirm who we are, good or bad, whenever we take action. 

How do you want yourself to be seen? Do your actions align with that sense of self? Or are you doing things that take you away from it?

Your actions create memories that will affect how you see yourself. Make sure you’re creating memories you want associated with you.

3. Great leaders allow others to take the winning shot:

Riley’s hockey team, The Fog Horns, is tied 3-3. Riley has the puck and is skating toward the goal.

She makes a decision to pass the puck to a teammate. The teammate takes the shot and scores the winning goal.

Riley didn’t need to be the one making the goal. She was part of a team and when one person won, they all won.

Great leaders understand this concept. They’re willing to let others make the winning sales call, create the software, or welcome the new employee.

They’re confident enough that this will be a win for the whole team. They’re willing to give up the glory to help out everyone.

Be a leader who allows others to win.

4. Joy:

Where I go, you go.

Riley’s core beliefs, or sense of self, were created when memories were brought to the belief system. Joy typically brought the memories down there.

When she invited Sadness to join her in bringing the latest memory (sharing the winning goal), Sadness was hesitant. She was scared of messing up the belief system network.

Joy reminded Sadness that she was a part of the team. More importantly, she could go wherever Joy did. It would be okay.

Leaders, bring your people along with you. When you go somewhere important, bring them with you.

Repeat the mantra: Where I go, you go. You will not only encourage your team but also create new leaders who will go on to do great things.

5. Joy:

I’ve learned that every emotion is good for Riley.

In the first Inside Out, Joy tries to banish Sadness because she thinks it’s a bad emotion. By the end of the movie, Joy realizes that even sadness is good for the soul.

Joy’s realization is reinforced when the new emotions show up. Joy says that every emotion is good. Unfortunately, the new emotions don’t feel the same way. They see the others as a threat and a danger to Riley.

Sometimes, we try to suppress our emotions. We think the sadness we feel will make us an ineffective leader. Or we fear getting angry when anger is called for in a specific situation. Sometimes, we may even think our anxiety is out of control and destroying our authority.

Remember, when we understand why our emotions are there, they’re all good. They help us look out for danger, understand the highs and lows of life, and more. Don’t be afraid to feel your emotions. I really learned this during the loss of my father. I hope you’ll learn this lesson as well.

6. Coach Roberts (Yvette Nicole Brown):

I need your focus.

Coach Roberts is the coach for the Firehawks, the team Riley desires to be on. Riley, Grace (Grace Lu), and Bree (Sumayyah Nurriddin-Green) head off to hockey training camp, where they may be able to join this team. 

Coach enters the locker room and tells the girls she needs their focus. Getting the players’ attention included handing in their cell phones.

She needed their attention.

It’s easy to forget that we need the attention of our teams. We need them to understand we’re communicating with them, giving them valuable information.

Call for their attention, their focus when you need it. Don’t be afraid to bring it to the forefront.

7. Envy:

Oh no, they’re using Riley’s imagination against her!

Joy, Envy, Anger, and Fear wander into a section of Riley’s mind where the imagination lives. Anxiety is telling this portion of Riley’s brain to fire off fearful thoughts. 

These thoughts would cripple Riley with anxiety. She began to imagine things that would never happen but could happen.

Our imagination can get the best of us. Our mind can run wild with thoughts of what-ifs, could-bes, or should-have-beens.

Learn to control your imagination. Rein it in when you begin to imagine fearful, dangerous, or anxiety-inducing situations.

Use your imagination, instead, to picture positive outcomes. You’ll be amazed at how much changes when you can see positive outcomes rather than the negative ones you let control you.

8. Our sense of self can change:

Anxiety begins to change the way Riley sees herself. Anxiety began to change the belief system Riley had built up by placing memories of her mistakes, fears, and anger in place of the happy and positive memories building her up.

As the memories are replaced with new anxiety-inducing memories, Riley no longer believes she’s a good person. Instead, Riley begins to believe she’s not good enough.

Riley’s sense of self quickly changed from a positive view to a negative one.

I think we’ve all been there. I know I have. One moment, you feel like you’ve got things together. You’re moving along, seeing great results, and feeling positive. Then you let fear, doubt, and anxiety creep in.

Those positive memories you have are replaced with the time you reamed out an employee, stole a pack of gum as a young child, or you tripped someone while playing a sport to give yourself an advantage. You begin to see yourself as a bad person.

Beware if you see your sense of self changing. Reexamine who you are, why you believe the things you do, and what you can do to change.

9. Joy:

What can we control?

Riley began to feel anxiety rise up as she waited for Coach Brown to announce the lineup of the Firehawks. Anxiety chimes in, asking what happens if she doesn’t make the team.

This is where Joy shines. She tells Anxiety to focus on the things they can control, which leads Riley to stop worrying about getting on the team and control what she can.

Imagine implementing this with your team members.

When someone comes to you with an anxiety-filled rant about the possibility of failure, ask them what they can control to make the outcome more positive. Guide them through the process of seeing a great outcome.

The more you focus on the things you can control, the more victories you and your team members will experience.

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