Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Kung Fu Panda 4

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Let me be honest with you… Prior to watching Kung Fu Panda 4, I had never watched a Kung Fu Panda movie all the way through. And there’s a lot of them before this. That being said, I went into the movie knowing very little about Po (Jack Black) and his compatriots. It was a new world to me and one where I didn’t need to know much about the past history. I don’t think you will need to know much about them either.

In Kung Fu Panda 4, Po is the Dragon Warrior, a powerful prodigy who can wield limitless power. He’s also the protector of the citizens of the Valley of Peace. But things are changing. His master, Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), encourages him to change. Shifu believes it is time for Po to become the Spiritual Leader and pass the title of Dragon Warrior to someone new.

Po, a panda, leaping into the air with his fist held out

Po has conflicting feelings about this. He’s finally good at something and now they want him to change? They want him to give up the power? The respect? 

He doesn’t feel ready. Maybe, just maybe, he’s more ready than he knows…

Let’s dig into the leadership lessons in Kung Fu Panda 4.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Kung Fu Panda 4

1. Li (Bryan Cranston):

Ping, will you please relax?

Li and Mr. Ping (James Hong) are Po’s adoptive parents. Mr. Ping is a worrying goose that sees trouble everywhere. Li is a giant panda, just like Po.

We see the two talking to one another at the movie’s beginning. Mr. Ping comes up with all sorts of ideas about things that could go wrong for Po. He’s worried his son will get hurt.

Li tries to calm him down. He asks Mr. Ping to relax. To chill out a little bit. All the worrying won’t help make Po any safer.

It’s easy to find ourselves trapped in fear. In the what-ifs. We tell ourselves that we need to think that way so we can be prepared for any coming trouble.

I want to challenge you to lay down your worries. To relax.

You don’t have to worry about every little detail. Things will be okay.

2. Consider who will take your place:

Shifu is the senior master of the Jade Palace. He’s trained many pupils including Po and the Furious Five. He’s a mentor to Po.

In this movie, he approaches Po. He tells Po that Po has ascended all of the steps. It’s now time for him to make a change. He has to choose his successor for Dragon Warrior.

Preparing your succession plan can be scary. You have to decide who best can take your place. More scary is the fact that you’ll no longer have the control or power that you once wielded.

There’s nothing you can do about this eventual change. Every leader is eventually changed whether by choice, force, or death.

Our responsibility as leaders is to train up new leaders. Train up someone who can take our place when we’re gone. 

Consider who would be a great replacement to you and train them up.

3. Shifu:

Be the pit, Po. Be the pit.

Po had held a peach pit in his hand. When Shifu asked him to show what was in his hands, he produced another item first. Then he showed the pit.

Shifu then tells Po to be the pit. 

It’s one of those ancient, proverby sounding things wise people say. Shifu had a reason behind the saying. A peach pit (actually, any pit) is a powerful item. 

Why? Because every pit holds the strength of a mighty tree. Something great grows out of something old, maybe even dead.

We have to be the pit, too. We have to allow new things to grow out of us.

What’s hidden within you? What needs to die? What needs to grow?

Allow the pit to break away and something new emerge.

4. Zhen (Awkwafina):

Every footstep leaves a footprint.

Zhen is a new character in Kung Fu Panda. She’s a sly fox who breaks into the temple to steal and break items. 

We believe she’s befriended Po after a battle. But, really, she’s working for The Chameleon (Viola Davis). 

After their first battle, Zhen tells Po that every footstep leaves a footprint. It’s how they can find The Chameleon. 

While she turns on him, this statement is still valid. 

I see it as every action leaves a reaction. Sound familiar? Sir Isaac Newton said something similar.

As leaders, our actions leave little markers along the way. People will revisit them to see where they lead. More importantly, the markers we leave by our actions will show others who we really were.

What are your leadership footsteps saying about you?

5. Leaders can be kind:

Zhen tells Po she will lead him to The Chameleon. Po believes her and allows her to lead him to Juniper City. Along the way, Zhen gets hungry. 

Po pulls out an almond cookie. He snaps the cookie in half. He offers Zhen part of the cookie.

She’s suspicious. Why would someone be kind and offer a treat without a hook?

Po did this because he was kind.

Be a kind leader. Do things for others without expecting something in return. 

Your kindness will be a footprint leading back to your true heart. 

Kindness is not a weakness. It’s a strength that cannot be denied.

6. Po:

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Po and Zhen had to be ferried across a body of water to get to Juniper City. They wander into The Happy Rabbit to find someone to transport them.

Zhen found this to be an opportunity to steal from some bad guys in the establishment. She was pickpocketing them while they were being beaten up.

Po corrected her. He told her that there was to be no stealing. She could still do the right thing and return the money she’d taken.

Throughout our leadership careers, we may make mistakes, choose the wrong path, or say the wrong things. But do you know what? It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Give the apology. Make amends for your actions. Go a new route.

You don’t have to continue on the path you’ve taken. You can choose a new path.

7. Our words can be misconstrued:

Zhen and Po eventually get to Juniper City. There, Zhen introduces Po to Han (Ke Huy Quan). Han is an armadillo who used to train Zhen to be a thief.

Upon her return, we discover that things weren’t as cozy as Zhen tried to portray them. Han wanted to make Zhen pay for what she had done to them.

This is when Po steps up with his words of wisdom. He tries to tell the gang that violence isn’t the answer. The bunnies in front of him interpret his words to mean less violence now, which means more violence later!

They’re excited. They’re whipped up. They’re wrong.

We have to choose our words carefully. They have meaning and impact. People will hear them and give their own meaning to our words.

Be ready to help correct any misunderstandings that may arise when we speak. You must be willing to guide people to interpret your words correctly.

8. Look for other options:

The Chameleon traps Po in a magical cage. This is the point where Zhen shows her true colors and takes the Staff of Wisdom from Po. She hands it to The Chameleon.

The Chameleon tells Po that he would need the spirits of ten Dragon Warriors to break through the bars. He understands this after trying to break out.

Then, he looked for another option.

The floor! He would break through the floor to escape. And thus he did.

We can become so focused on what’s right in front of us that we consider it the only option. It’s not.

There’s always another option. Another way forward. 

Look for new possibilities. Look for the road less traveled.

You’ll discover you don’t have to take the path you thought you did. You can do something different.

9. Mr. Ping:

If things were to remain the same forever, they would lose their flavor.

One of Po’s adoptive fathers was also a chef. He ran a restaurant where the menu changed ever so often.

He understood that change was good. He shared the secret with Po. If things stayed the same, they would lose their flavor.

Even though change is scary, we have to be willing to change. Change gives us something new, something good.

Look for what’s become stale in your leadership, in your organization. Be willing to change it to spice things up.

10. Po:

Real change happens from within.

The Chameleon had stolen the powers of Po’s former villains. She saw herself as always changing. 

Po corrected her. The Chameleon changed, sure… but she was only changing her outside appearance. Po knew real change happened from within. 

Not only did this thought impact Po, who finally realizes he’s ready to change, he posited that maybe The Chameleon was ready to change since all she did was change the outside.

We can change our words, our actions, and more. That won’t affect real change in our lives.

Real change begins when we work on our insides. We must make internal changes to achieve real change.

What does this look like?

You can change your thought life. This will change the way you think and the materials you consume, and your actions will change because of it.

Change more than your outward appearance. Change within.

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