Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Raya And The Last Dragon

A Reel Leadership Article

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Raya And The Last Dragon is the latest computer-animated film from Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studio. Starring Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, Awkwafina (from Crazy Rich Asians) as Sisu, Izaac Wang as Boun, Gemma Chan as Namaari, Daniel Dae Kim as Benja, and Benedict Wong as Tong, it tells the story of betrayal and the regaining of trust.

The theater we watched Raya And The Last Dragon in really enjoyed the film. Children were laughing. Adults were cracking up. It was a great movie to watch.

Animated characters Raya and Tuk Tuk in a promotional image for Raya And The Last Dragon

If you’re unable to watch movies in the theater just yet due to COVID-19 restrictions, fear not. You can watch Raya And The Last Dragon on the Disney+ streaming service for a price.

What is Raya And The Last Dragon about? The realm of Kumandra has been destroyed. It is a barren land and people have been turned to stone. There are no dragons left in the world. Now, it is up to Raya to restore Kumandra to the beautiful land it once was.

Whether you’re old or young, you will find something to enjoy in Raya And The Last Dragon. You will also find leadership lessons in Raya And The Last Dragon.

Strap in. Get ready. It’s time for Reel Leadership.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Raya And The Last Dragon

1. Remote work can create amazing results:

According to After The Credits, Raya And The Last Dragon was made during the COVID-19 pandemic. The making of the movie relied on over 400 individuals working from home. It is completely unprecedented.

This is a powerful statement. Many employers continue to deny the power of working remotely. They believe it stifles creativity and breaks apart teams.

The making of Raya And The Last Dragon shows this isn’t always the case. You can still be creative. You can still do great work. And you can still be a great team even if you’re all remote.

2. When you fight for the wrong thing, you don’t get what you desire:

Why was Kumandra destroyed? Because the people populating the world couldn’t get along. They chose to fight one another instead of fighting for each other.

The dragons sacrificed themselves to save the humans. The humans went from stone to flesh. Instead of banding together, they fought one another.

Their infighting brought ruin to the world.

The same happens in organizations. Teams that cannot get along will destroy the organization from the inside out. They will not get what they desire.

What can we do? We can look for ways to bring teams together. To help them understand the importance of working together.

3. Expect more from your team:

Benja was Raya’s father. He was also a protector of the dragon gem. In a challenge, Raya was attempting to get to the Dragon Gem. Her father told her she would never step foot on the stones surrounding the gem.

Despite what her father believed, Raya did something he didn’t believe was possible. His daughter, Raya, was able to place a toe on the stones and do what her father said she couldn’t.

What do you expect from your team? Do you expect them to do greater and greater things or do you expect them to fail?

Your expectations will set the tone for what your team will accomplish. Expect more.

4. Benja:

Tell me what you know about the other nations.

Benja asked Raya this question. Raya answered with confidence. She explained about the nations of Fang, Spine, Talon, and Tail. Benja and Raya were from the Heart nation.

As Raya explained the other nations, she became excited about the prospect of protecting the Dragon Gem from the other nations. They were to be defeated and crushed, according to Raya.

Benja had a different idea. He knew the other nations could cause trouble. However, he wanted to bring peace to the world.

His view of the nations differed greatly from those of his daughter.

Think about the way you view your competitors. Are they to be crushed? Are they to be utterly defeated?

What if you shifted your view? What if your view was more along the line of Benja’s?

You could make allies from enemies. You could find ways to work together.

I encourage you to look at your competitors in a different light. What could happen if you worked together?

5. Benja:

If we don’t learn to trust each other, we’re going to tear each other apart.

Benja said this in regards to the other nations. They were tearing each other apart. They all wanted to be powerful.

I think this can also apply to the internal struggles organizations face.

When team members fail to trust one another and their leadership, they will tear each other apart. They will see challenges coming from those they work with.

Help break the bonds of distrust. Work to bring unity and trust to your teams.

It could save your organization.

6. Young Namaari (Jona Xiao):

Fang may look nice on the outside, but we have some pretty big holes on the inside.

Namaari was from the Fang tribe. She had come to the land of the Heart tribe with her mother, Virana (Sandra Oh). She was also a manipulator.

Still, her words were true. She told a young Raya the above quote. She told her that Fang looked nice but had issues.

Raise your hand if you’ve seen this in an organization you’ve been a part of. You may even be a part of an organization that looks good on the outside but has major issues inside right now.

All organizations will have holes. Not all organizations are willing to admit to the holes they have.

Know when to admit the holes your organization has. Doing so can help you gain allies and help you close the holes.

7. Dead ends are not always dead ends:

Raya and her adorable companion Tuk Tuk (Alan Tudyk), a creature that looked like a cross between an armadillo and a pug, searched for the last dragon Sisu for 6 years. They came to the last end of the river only to discover a shipwreck.

Raya was feeling disappointed. All this searching and they came to a dead end. It was all pointless…

Or was it?

The dead-end Raya saw was actually exactly what she was looking for. The dragon Sisu was just beyond what she could see.

More often than not, a lot of the hard work you and your team will do will end up at what appears to be a dead end. You will feel as if all your hard work was for naught.

Stop this thinking. Many times the dead-end is exactly what you were looking for. You only have to look deeper.

Keep digging. Keep working. You’re almost there.

8. Sisu:

You can change that.

Raya was discouraged. She distrusted people. She kept going back to her time of betrayal by Namaari.

Sisu kept trying to encourage Raya to move past the hurt. To actually change what was wrong.

It was possible. Raya only had to try.

You have to try as well. You have the power to change the things you find discourage or off-putting.

Don’t live in the past. The past is the past. You can move past it and change the future.

9. Sisu:

Actually I think it was the lying that made you look like a liar.

Raya said she could see how something she said could make her look like a liar. Sisu corrected her.

It wasn’t how she said something that made her look like a liar. It was the words she said that made her a liar.

Raya lied. That made her a liar.

When you lie, you are a liar. There’s no two ways about it.

If you don’t want people to think you’re a liar, stop lying. Start telling the truth.

You can’t be a liar if you tell the truth.

10. Raya:

Will you help us?

Tong was a warrior from the Spine tribe. They were a fearsome bunch.

Raya and Sisu were captured by Tong. The duo was rescued by Boun and Little Noi (Thalia Tran) and Little Noi’s monkeys. They tied Tong up but then something happened.

Raya went to Tong and asked him if he would help them.

Whoa… That’s a big ask. It’s also scary. Tong could do some damage.

I want you to think about the situations you’re currently in. Where could you use outside help? Who could you ask for help?

Today, go and ask for help. Swallow your pride. Swallow your fear. Step up and ask for help.

You will be surprised. You may gain an ally and a friend.

11. Sisu:

When they put their faith in me, it empowered me beyond anything I can imagine.

The other dragons put their faith in Sisu. They believed she could get the job done.

Sisu didn’t necessarily believe in herself to that extent. Yet, the faith of the other dragons empowered her.

Your belief in the members of your team will have the same effect. By believing in those you lead, you give them power beyond belief.

You give them something they never had. You give them someone who is in their corner.

Stand behind your team. Believe in them. Empower your team.

12. Past hurts will blind you:

Raya had been hurt by the betrayal of Namaari. She kept putting up barriers between herself and other people.

These barriers hurt her in her hunt for the pieces of the Dragon Gem. She would shut people out or believe the only path to the pieces of them gem would be through violence.

Beware of hiding behind past hurts. Your past hurt will blind you to the alliances you can build today.

13. Raya:

It’s about trust.

Raya asked her compatriots to join the shards of the gem together. They would have to trust one another and the nefarious Namaari.

It was a hard sell. Yet, she finally got the others to do it when she showed she now trusted Namaari.

She stepped forward and handed her piece to Namaari.

Trust is a huge deal. Without trust, organizations flounder. They are ripped apart because of people looking out for themselves rather than everyone.

What trust issues do you see in your organization? How can you help build bridges to regain the lost trust?

This is the duty of a leader.

14. Great leaders brag on their people:

The movie ends with peace being restored to Kumandra. The people who had been turned to stone were turned back to flesh.

Sisu approaches Benja. She tells Benja that his daughter did him proud. She bragged on Benja’s daughter!

This is something great leaders do. They know it is wonderful to tell their team members they have done a great job.

Great leaders take this one step further. They go to their team member’s loved ones and tell them of the great work they’ve done. They brag on their team members to other people.

Who can you brag on today? Who can you tell about the great exploits of one of your team members?

Go do it.

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