Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Strange World

A Reel Leadership Article

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Strange World is Disney’s latest animated adventure. And it’s a fun one.

We’re thrust into the world of Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhall), Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White). These three are father, son, and grandson.

Jaeger was lost when he wanted to continue to search for a way to get past the mountains surrounding the town he lived in. He brought his son, Searcher, along. When Searcher discovered a plant that gave off electrical energy, Jaeger wanted to continue the search for the other side of the mountains. Searcher refused, wanting to bring the plant back to their people.

Ethan and Searcher amazed by the view in Strange World

This discovery would be life-changing for everyone. Especially Searcher, who lost his father.

We see three generations struggle with the difficulties of letting each live out their own path. We can take a lot away from the situations that arise due to these disagreements, challenges, and differing lines of thought.

Let’s look at the leadership lessons in Strange World.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Strange World

1. Don’t be so focused on the goal that you’re unwilling to see the possibilities in front of you:

Searcher had joined his father in searching for a path over the mountain peaks surrounding their town. That was the goal.

The goal changed for Searcher when he discovered a plant that would be called Pando. The Pando plant gave off an electrical current.

Avalonia, the city the duo lived, was primitive. There was no electricity. This discovery could change lives!

Yet, Jaeger was unwilling to deviate from the goal. He would leave his son and continue his search.

Our goals are great. We should set them and strive to achieve them. But what happens when something pops up that offers a new opportunity?

You have to evaluate the opportunities as they come up. See what the possibilities are. Then decide whether or not to pursue the new possibility or continue on the path you had been on.

Many times, the new possibility is the one you should chase. Don’t get caught up in the original goal so much that you can’t change course.

2. There are different kinds of leaders:

Searcher and Jaeger were related. Yet, they were very different.

Jaeger longed for adventure. He wanted to discover new frontiers.

Searcher longed to make a difference. He was willing to forgo adventure for stability and discovery.

Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong. They’re just different.

Just like leaders.

There are many different kinds of leaders. Some may be brasher; others are more caring.

What you need to do is find the leadership style that works for you, your organization, and the business goals.

3. Don’t return to your folly:

The Clades had a dog named Legend. He was a big, hairy piece of joy. He’s also not that smart.

A Pando fruit was in a field. Legend went and picked up the fruit in his mouth.


Legend is zapped by the electrical energy running through the fruit. What he does next is what many people do. Legend went and picked up another piece of fruit.


And then, once more, he goes back to a different piece of fruit.


Legend didn’t learn from his actions and the pain they caused.

In the Bible, Proverbs 26:11 tells us that as a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. This is what the scene showed us.

Legend returned to his folly. He kept going back to hurtful things.

If we want to move forward, we can’t keep returning to the harmful things in our lives. We have to move on from the hurt and folly. We have to move forward.

4. Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu):

Pando is dying, Searcher. You and I have an obligation to save it.

Twenty-five years after Searcher brought back the Pando plant, the energy released from the plant was waning. Mal approached Searcher and told him they needed to find out what was causing the plant to die.

This is what started the new journey of Searcher. He joined Mal’s quest to uncover what was happening because he felt a responsibility to his people.

Have you been a part of an organization that’s dying or that died? Were you leading in that organization?

It’s your obligation to look into the reasons why it’s dying.

There may not be a solution. There may be several courses of action that can be taken.

Whether or not it can be saved, you have an obligation to find the cause of the death.

5. Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union):

Did you have any idea all of this was down here?

Meridian was the wife of Searcher. She was also a pilot.

Their son, Ethan, had stowed aboard the ship, Venture, to follow his father’s adventure. When Meridian discovered this, she took her plane and tracked down the Venture.

Soon, everything went to pot. The Venture was attacked by reapers (creatures that looked like pterodactyls), Duffle (Alan Rudyk) was killed, and the Venture was in trouble.

This was when Meridian stepped up. She took control of the ship. The ship flew through a barrier, and boom this beautiful, breathtaking world was in front of everyone.

Challenges come and go. You’re going to struggle. Then you’ll see success.

You don’t know what’s just past the challenge you’re facing. You need to keep going. You need to keep pushing forward.

Break through that barrier and see the beautiful, wonderful world in front of you.

6. Meridian Clade:

It’s not pretty but it’ll get us airborne.

The Venture had been damaged when it crash-landed on the strange world. Meridian worked with other crew members to repair the ship.

Meridian did an ugly patch job on the damaged portion of the ship. However, the patch job would do what it needed to do.

It didn’t need to be pretty. The repair work needed to work.

It’s easy to want everything to look slick, shiny, and perfect. Think about Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The visuals were stunning. Yet, the story turned off many Star Wars faithful.

Our work doesn’t need to be beautiful, especially at the beginning. What our work needs to be is functional, successful, and impactful.

Work on making things work. Then you can focus on making things beautiful

7. Beware of who you follow:

Ethan followed a glowing, blue creature he named Splat. Splat got his name because Ethan had thrown the creature against a wall, and he splatted against it. Then, Splat began to descend the wall like a Wacky Wally toy.

Splat pulled out Searcher’s bandana. Ethan believed Splat would lead him to his father.

Nope, not a chance. At least not at the beginning.

Splat was actually a scout for a creature that would devour whatever Splat brought to them. Ethan was going to be lunch!

Ethan followed Splat into a trap (thankfully, Splat changed his mind). However, Ethan was in grave danger because he followed someone he shouldn’t.

We have to be cautious of who we follow. We also have to be cautious of who we let lead our teams.

There are leaders who are not positive role models or want to help others. Instead, they’re looking to hurt people.

Make sure you vet those you follow and those allow on your team.

8. Combine goals when possible:

Jaeger still wanted to get to the other side of the mountain range. He believed they could achieve this goal by continuing through the subterranean world they had found.

Searcher wanted to fix the heart of the Pando. He wanted to restore energy to his people.

Friction. Lots of friction occurred until the prospect of saving Pando and finding the other side of the mountain.

Boom! A combination of goals that would get both parties what they wanted.

Sometimes we’re so focused on our singular goal that we don’t know what other departments are working on. Their projects may align with ours or our departments.

What if you looked for ways to combine goals from multiple departments? Could you both achieve what you want?

Work on ways to make a way for multiple goals to be completed. You will find this increases productivity!

9. Learn to work together:

Ethan loved playing a tabletop board game called Primal Outpost (think Magic The Gathering meets Settlers of Catan). The game’s goal wasn’t to destroy the creatures in the game. The goal was to work together to make the world peaceful.

As Jaeger and Searcher are playing with Ethan, Ethan flips a card for a Demon Spider. Jaeger and Searcher go into kill mode. They wanted to find a way to destroy the “monster.”

When Jaeger and Searcher play cards that kill the Demon Spider, another threat appears: Fire locust.

It’s revealed the Demon Spider wasn’t evil. The Demon Spider was holding back the fire locust. Since the Demon Spider was destroyed, the fire locust overran the world, and they lost the game.

Since the game’s goal was to learn to work together for balance, they needed to keep the Demon Spider alive. They didn’t.

We can see threats and danger in many places. We may even want to stir up trouble to get people going (no, not anyone that is reading this, but there are people out there who want to cause trouble).

We go into a mode that is all action rather than thinking. Take the time to think through the issues at hand. How can we make what’s happening or the dangers we’re facing work for or with us?

When we look for ways to work together, we can find balance. We can get through situations that seem impossible.

10. The leaders you build up will not be the same as you:

Jaeger tried to raise Searcher in his own image. Searcher tried to raise Ethan in his own image.

None of the three wanted to be like their father. They wanted something different.

Each Clade had a unique skill set. None of the fathers learned how to cultivate those skills. This pushed them away from one another.

Be aware that the up-and-coming leaders in your organization will not be the same as you. They’re not clones.

Just because their leadership style is different than yours doesn’t mean they’re bad, difficult, or not cut out for leadership.

Work on building up their strengths and skills. You’ll be surprised at how well they turn out.

11. Be willing to destroy your legacy:

Pando was Searcher’s legacy. He had brought technology to his town. The plant brought so many good things with it.

However, Pando wasn’t good for their environment. Pando was sending its roots into the heart of the turtle island they inhabited.

The roots were killing the turtle.

Searcher had to make a choice. Does he let the roots continue to invade the heart of the creature, or does he destroy the roots and their power source?

Searcher chose to destroy his legacy. He was willing to destroy the harmful roots.

Building a legacy is okay. There’s nothing wrong with a legacy.

Until there is.

Watch the kind of legacy you’re building. Where are the roots digging? What’s the impact of your actions?

Your legacy may look good on the outside, but it may be dangerous for you, your family, or your organization.

Be willing to let your legacy die.

12. Jaeger Clade:

My legacy isn’t these mountains. It’s you.

Jaeger’s whole purpose in life had been to get to the other side of the mountains. He was so close. He could see the eye to get out.

But he didn’t.

Instead, Jaeger chose to turn around. He went to help his son dig into the heart of the turtle so the turtle’s immune system could defeat the Pando roots. He gave up on seeing the other side of the mountain to care for his son.

In the end, Jaeger still got to get to the other side of the mountain. It happened after he helped his son.

We get legacy all wrong. We think our legacy will be doing something extraordinary like changing the course of an organization.

I want to challenge those of you who are fathers. There is something more important than your adventures, leadership, or personal pursuits.

Your true legacy is the family you leave behind. Your sons and daughters. They’re what you will be remembered for.

Work on your family legacy more than your personal and work legacy.

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