Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie

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On July 12, 2002, the USA Network debuted the comedy Monk. The series followed Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This led to hilarious moments throughout the series. Monk would solve cases but would also be repulsed by situations he would get into. He’d have to have hand sanitizer, wet wipes, count steps or touches, and more. His obsessiveness was funny.

At the end of the original Monk series, Monk had solved his most pressing case, the murder of Trudy. He’d considered retirement and seemed to be getting better concerning his obsessive-compulsive disorder. 21 years later, Mr. Monk’s Last Case lost the charm the television series had. 

Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard) Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) and Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) sitting on a couch

But now Monk’s back to take on his final case. It involves the death of Molly Evan’s (Caitlin McGee) fiance Griffin Briggs (Austin Scott).

The movie was not a comedy. It leaned toward a dark comedy as it dealt with Monk’s grief over the loss of his wife, Trudy (Melora Hardin), in a different way than it had in the past. In this movie, Monk was on the verge of suicide (if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255). 

Mr. Monk’s Last Case was a great reunion of cast members. We were reunited with:

  • Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard)
  • Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford)
  • Dr. Neven Bell (Hector Elizondo)
  • Captain Leeland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine)

While it was great seeing a reunion of previous cast members, I didn’t feel great watching this movie. Even the ending left me feeling wrong. I’ve heard this from others as well.

However, this doesn’t mean one cannot use Mr. Monk’s Last Case to suss out leadership lessons. This movie is replete with them.

Today, we’re going to examine them.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Mr. Monk’s Last Case

1. You can lose out if you don’t act in a timely manner:

Beth (Brooke Adams), Monk’s publishing agent, told Monk it was too late. What was too late? Changes to his book.

Monk had been writing a memoir for many years. The book wandered and lolly-gagged to the point it was unreadable to the average person.

Upon Beth telling Monk that the book wouldn’t work, Monk suggested he rewrite it. Beth tells him it’s too late. They’ve been waiting 10 years for the book.

Things can move slowly, but they have to move. You cannot let situations go unhandled. You can’t wait and wait and wait.

Leaders have to act. They have to keep moving forward. They can’t wait for perfect situations, detours, or wanderings. 

If you’re a leader, people expect you to get things done.

2. Great leaders don’t expect different answers:

Beth and her assistant, Terrence (Alexander Nunez), were asked by Monk to get up and leave the room. Neither one budged. 

We discover the reason Monk asked this. He thought they could get up, leave the room, and then have another person from the publisher come in. This person could give Monk a different answer about the book and book advance.

How many times do we do this? We hire someone to get the job done. They then tell us what it will take or what they need. We retort that doesn’t sound right.

We consider bringing in someone else. We want a different answer to the situation.

It’s insane, much like Monk. We want a different answer even though the one we’ve been presented with is perfectly valid.

Don’t be a leader who moves people in and out so that you get the answers you want. Be the leader who understands that the answers won’t always be ones we like, yet they are ones we will have to accept.

3. Even if there are others like us, we can still be miserable:

Molly observes people elbow bumping, using hand sanitizer, and more. These are all actions Monk takes regularly. She mentions that people are just like him now.

What did Monk say? They must feel horrible.

Having people around him that were similar didn’t make Monk feel better. I’d wager it made him feel even worse.

When we have similar people around us, it can make us feel great. However, it can also make us dive deeper into depression, anxiety, and other ailments. 

Pay attention to how you respond to those around you. You don’t have to let their actions, emotions, or thoughts impact you. You have control over those things.

4. Griffin Briggs:

Why’s he doing this?

Griffin was a reporter with the chance to interview Mr. Rick Eden (James Purefoy), an eccentric millionaire. In talking to Eden’s wife, Griffin asks the question above. 

He wants to know why Eden is trying to push the space shuttle to the limits before launch. It’s because Eden wants to see how far it could go.

The tests that Eden runs on the shuttle are successful. It holds. He now knows how far it can go.

Our people are asking the same question as Griffin did of Eden. They want to know why we’re doing what we’re doing.

You have to have a good reason for your actions. Why? Because your actions impact the lives and livelihoods of those you employ.

Be ready with a good answer to the question.

5. Woman:

But you do make the rules.

Monk had brought a hand sanitizer station to the courthouse. A woman came to use the hand sanitizer, thinking it was for everyone.

It wasn’t.

Monk stops her. He shows her a sticker with his name on it. He said it was his, and he didn’t make the rules. Obviously, Monk made the rules here but didn’t want to admit it.

Remember, you’re the leader. You’re the one making the rules. You’re also the one to enforce the rules. 

Don’t pass the buck off on someone else. Accept what you’ve created.

6. Beware of oddly specific answers:

Griffin was a thrill seeker. He had an annual bungee jumping event at a local bridge. During his jump, he fell to his death. The bungee cord was 6 feet too long.

A man at the bridge, Lucas Kubrick (Paulino Nunes), mentioned this to Molly as she ran up to the spot where her fiance had jumped. But then the questions start to swirl in your mind…

How did this man know how long the rope was? Had he measured it? Did he do something? 

Lucas’ specific answer was the answer to who-dun-it.

Do you ever get oddly specific answers to your questions? You know, answers that someone shouldn’t or couldn’t know…

Beware of these types of answers. They’re often leading to an answer someone else wants you to get.

7. It can be hard to accept the truth:

Monk deduces that Rick Eden was the mastermind behind Griffin’s murder. Griffin had been attempting to do an expose on him, and it hit a little too close to home.

He produces his theory to Stottlemeyer. Stottlemeyer didn’t want to accept that Eden could be a murderer. 

It wasn’t because Eden was a nice guy. Stottlemeyer refused to believe it because Eden was his boss and provided him with some cushy benefits.

Stottlemeyer eventually comes around, but it is hard for him to accept.

When we hear the hard truth, we may want to reject it. Not because it’s not true but because it may tarnish our reputation, hurt our income potential, or change the course we’re taking.

Hear what others are saying. Filter it through an unfiltered lens. Get feedback from others. Don’t by your emotions.

You have to hear the truth. Even when it’s hard to accept.

8. Dr. Neven Bell:

I love you, Adrian.

Bell had been Adrian’s therapist for many, many years. Monk drove Bell crazy many times but still…

There was a love that Bell had for him. 

Bell cared deeply for Monk. He desired to see him get better. To return to a healthy life. So much so that Bell continued to see Monk as a patient after he retired.

Do you love and care for the people you lead? Every great leader must have some love and care for their people.

You have to watch over them. Make sure they’re treated fairly. You have to help them get to the next level.

Be a leader who loves.

9. Adrian Monk:

Everything makes sense evenutally.

A local animal shelter had been threatened through letters sent through the postal service. When Monk suggested it was Eden writing the letters, Natalie said it didn’t make sense. Why would someone like Eden threaten a shelter?

Monk knew that without all of the information, things might not make sense in the moment. However, given time, things will begin to make sense. 

And they did.

We discover Eden had written the letters. It was an attempt to frame the man he used to murder Griffin, Lucas. Eden put a bomb in the truck Lucas was driving and would frame him for the threatening letters and Griffin’s murder.

With everything going on in our organizations, things can be confusing. They may not make sense in the moment.

Give it time. Truth will be revealed. You’ll discover what was really happening and why certain things played out the way they did.

In the end, everything makes sense.

10. We all make an impact:

Monk wanted to end his life because he thought everything he did didn’t matter. There was still crime. People were still missing. Wrong was still happening in the world.

But then Monk “meets” all the people from the cases he solved. He had a vision of them just like he’d been having visions of Trudy.

Each person came up and thanked Monk. 

He discovered he had a purpose and made an impact.

You… You’re like Monk. You have a purpose. You have made an impact.

Don’t give up hope. Keep moving forward. Keep making those decisions. Keep leading people.

You matter.

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