“Get over here!” “Flawless victory!” “Finish him!” “Fatality!”
If you grew up in the ’90s and played video games, the above quotes probably remind you of a video game. The game was maligned by the media and government officials. They said the game was too violent (and it was a violent video game). They said it would destroy our youth (they went a little overboard on that one).
Yet, Mortal Kombat became a worldwide phenomenon. The video game spawned 18 video games. There were also two live-action movies released in 1995 and 1997. These movies were released when video game-to-movie translations were not good.
I am happy to say that the Mortal Kombat movie released in 2021 breaks this trend. The new Mortal Kombat movie is as near flawless as it could be.
Introducing a new character, or is it challenger, Cole Young (Lewis Tan), Mortal Kombat was a fun distraction and helped cement the idea that you can take a video game to the big screen well.
Mortal Kombat tells Cole’s story as he is introduced to the challenge Mortal Kombat presents. Cole is part of Earth’s heroes who can save the world from an impending invasion from Outworld. Outworld’s champions are deadly. They include Bi-Han/Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Shang Tsung (Chin Han), Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Nitara (Mel Jarnson), Reiko (Nathan Jones), Goro (Angus Sampson), Kabal (Daniel Nelson), and other fearsome foes.
Earth’s champions are just coming together. Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Kano (Josh Lawson), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), and Kung Lao (Max Huang).
The challengers will meet up. It will be bloody and deadly. It will be Mortal Kombat.
Through the fights and challenges, there is more to Mortal Kombat than the fighting. There are leadership lessons in Mortal Kombat. We’re going to take a look at these leadership lessons in today’s Reel Leadership article.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Mortal Kombat
1. Find new ways to use your current tools:
Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) had left his family alone at their compound to fetch water. While away, Bi-Han attacked his wife and child. They were frozen to death by Bi-Han’s sub-zero powers.
Hanzo heard a scream and returned home to find his family frozen. He also found Bi-Han still there.
The pair began to fight.
Hanzo fell to the ground. He found a gardening tool and rope. He began to fashion a new weapon out of the old tools. He used this new weapon to fight and, ultimately, lose against Bi-Han.
We have so many tools around us. There are old computers, books, machinery, and more. Many of these items have outlived their usefulness.
Or have they?
What can you do to make these tools more effective? They might not be used in the same manner they used to be but what could you make out of them? Find a way to use your current tools in a new way.
2. Referee (David Field):
Fighting requires both attacking and defending, not just throwing punches.
Cole was an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter. One of the referees told him the above quote after a fight.
Cole had once been a great fighter. He defeated the MMA champ Eddie Tobias. Now, he found himself throwing more punches than defensive maneuvers and on the losing end of MMA matches.
Cole’s style had changed. He no longer fought well. He forgot fighting was more than one-dimensional.
We forget this in leadership. We find one tactic or strategy that works once and we use the same move over and over again.
Leaders cannot be one-dimensional. They have to remember there’s more to leading than telling someone what to do or fixing everything or delegating to others. You cannot use one leadership move again and again.
3. There’s a time for leaders to tap out:
Cole was in an MMA fight. He had the upper hand only to have the other fight gain the advantage.
The other fighter began to pound on Cole. Cole was becoming bloodied and broken. He had to do something.
Cole chose to tap out. He chose to give up.
It may seem shameful to give up or tap out while you’re leading. It is not. It’s actually a wise move.
Great leaders know they cannot succeed in every endeavor they embark upon. There will be times when a project has to be abandoned. Maybe a team member has to be let go. Or you have to leave the organization.
There’s no shame in realizing it’s time to tap out.
4. Pay attention to your environment:
Emily (Matilda Kimber) is Cole’s daughter. He had taken her and his wife, Allison (Laura Brent), to a restaurant to eat. While Cole and Allison were inside the restaurant, snow began to fall in the middle of summer.
This wasn’t right. Something was out of place.
Sub-Zero was there. He was ready to attack Cole.
Our environments are important. They can tell us what’s happening or about to happen.
Pay attention to the environment of the office you work in. Is it getting cold? Are people feeling tense?
These are cues things are changing. These are things the environment is telling you.
5. The message you need to hear can be hard to believe:
Sonya arrived to tell Cole about the imminent threat facing the Earth. She told him about the other realms. She mentioned a deadly tournament called Mortal Kombat was going to take place.
The things Sonya told Cole were hard to believe. In fact, Cole didn’t believe Sonya.
I’m sure I would doubt what Sonya had said. You would too. However, in the movie, Sonya was right. There were other realms. A tournament was about to happen. Cole was a part of stopping it.
Sonya’s message was hard to believe but Cole needed to hear it.
You’re going to hear messages from your team, vendors, and customers. Some of these messages are things you don’t want to hear. They’re going to be hard to believe.
Yet, these are messages you need to hear. They’re going to prepare you for what is coming. They will help you become ready for your next task.
Listen, even, to the hard-to-believe messages.
6. Liu Kang:
I am not your enemy.
Cole, Kano, and Sonya were looking for Raiden’s temple. Kano had brought them to where he believed the temple to be.
Liu Kang appears. They begin to fight. He tells the team that he is not their enemy. He is a friend. He can help them get to Raiden’s temple.
The trio jumped into a fight quickly. They didn’t know if Liu Kang was friend or foe. They just acted.
We do the same. We jump into situations without getting the full picture of what is happening.
Take a step back the next time something new happens. Don’t rush in.
Instead, examine the situation. What is it? What could happen? How is it happening? Who’s a friend and who’s a foe?
When we examine the situation instead of rushing foolishly into battle, we can save ourselves a lot of pain and suffering.
7. Cole Young:
Well, I’m willing to die for my family.
Raiden told Cole there was nothing there for him other than death. Cole was ready to die. He had a reason to lay down his life.
I don’t believe Cole wanted to die. He was willing to, though. His family was the reason he was willing to fight. It was his why.
When we have a why, we will go to extraordinary lengths to accomplish our goals. We will do anything to lead well.
Find your why. For Cole, it was his family. For you, it may be something different.
Regardless of your why, your why is important.
8. Kung Lao:
In Mortal Kombat, talent will only get you so far.
Cole was trying to discover his arcana (a special superpower). Kung Lao told him that his talent would only get him so far. He would have to dig down deep and activate his arcana.
This frustrated Cole. He was talented. He was good. He should be able to win on raw talent alone.
You’re probably a pretty good leader. I won’t begrudge you that. However, I bet there’s a hidden arcana within you that you could unleash.
We all have hidden leadership powers. David Rendall calls it our freak factor. I like that name.
We have to look at ourselves and those we lead to unlock our hidden powers. For many leaders, their arcana can come from the people they lead or even their spouse.
Find your superpower. Unleash it. Lead better!
9. You don’t have to be special to lead well:
The champions of Earth were marked with a dragon, the logo for Mortal Kombat. Sonya was the only person in Raiden’s temple that did not have the dragon mark.
This didn’t stop Sonya. She still pushed through trainings to become a better fighter.
In the end, she gained a dragon mark with the death of one of the other fighters but didn’t need it to be a true champion.
What do you think you need to lead well? Do you think you need to be crowned the next leader by your business mentor? Is it that you need a master’s degree in business development?
What is it that you think you need?
Let me tell you. You don’t need the special mark to lead well. You can lead well by doing what is right, making choices and abiding by them, and continuing to lead through challenging times like COVID-19.
10. You become great as you lead:
This is a continuation of Sonya’s story. She didn’t become a great champion right away. She didn’t have the dragon mark that would make her special.
However, she gained and earned the right to fight as a champion of Earth.
She fought and trained. She gathered Earth’s champions. She put her all into it.
You don’t become great because you’re given a title. You become a great leader because you care for those you lead and you understand the weight you have been given.
Be willing to start off as a poor leader. Work on your skills and talents. Work on becoming better. You will become a great leader if you don’t stop working on yourself.