Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Tremors

A Reel Leadership Flashback Article

The world continues to spin in chaos. Many of us are still under shelter-at-home orders from our state governments. This means movie theaters are still closed!

In fact, I heard something scary. Movie theaters may not reopen until August! Oh no… What does that mean for Reel Leadership?

Nothing, really… There are a plethora of movies still available to watch through services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I will be using these services to continue to provide Reel Leadership lessons to you.

Cast of the original Tremors movie sitting on a rock

Today’s Reel Leadership lessons come to you from the cult classic movie Tremors. My wife, Pamela, loves cheesy movies. I figured I would give her this one.

Tremors featured Kevin Bacon as Valentine McKee, Fred Ward as Earl Bass, Finn Carter as Rhonda LeBeck, Michael Gross as Burt Gummer, and Reba McEntire as Heather Gummer.

Valentine and his pal Early are bumbling idiots. They go from one odd job to another. They lack planning and foresight. Eventually, they decide to leave their town of Perfection, Nevada.

Except they’ve chosen to leave too late. Their pathway out of town is blocked and they soon discover there are wormlike creatures attacking the citizens of their town.

The adventure picks up from there. So do the laughs. And let’s not forget about the leadership lessons.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Tremors

1. Find an agreeable way to make decisions:

Earl and Valentine were arguing over who would make breakfast. Valentine said he had made breakfast the day before. Earl believed he had.

They couldn’t come to an agreement. But they did find a way to make a decision and agree upon it.

Earl and Valentine fell back to the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors way of deciding.

Coming to a consensus or making a decision can be difficult. There are multiple people working to come up with solutions. Sometimes those solutions contradict one another. Someone has to make a decision.

While Earl and Valentine’s method won’t work in business, you can take a lesson from them. They chose Rock, Paper, Scissors as the way to make the final decision. You have to find a way to make a final decision as well.

This could be a unanimous vote, the voice of the leader, or some other way. Figure out a way that works for your organization and stick with it.

2. Earl:

You never take the long view.

As Earl and Valentine were heading to a dirty job, they had to clean out a septic system at Melvin Plug’s (Robert Jayne) place. Valentine wasn’t looking forward to it. He wanted to find an easier way to make money. He suggested they go to Burt and Heather’s house to score the easy cash.

Earl chastised Valentine. He saw Valentine as looking for the quick buck. Not the continuous revenue stream of cleaning out the septic system.

Don’t be like Valentine. Leadership is hard. You will face challenges. There will be times when you don’t like leading.

However, leading others is worthwhile. There’s huge rewards for those who lead well. It takes time, effort, and energy. Don’t quit early!

3. You don’t know the danger you’re facing:

Rhonda was packing up some of her seismic activity equipment. She began to head back to her truck and something begins to happen. A Graboid (a snake-like creature) begins to make its way towards her.

She is oblivious. She doesn’t see the threat coming her way.

Thankfully, she opens the door, steps into the truck, and shuts the door. The Graboid stops following her and leaves her alone, for the time being.

Boy! That would be a scary thing to face. A giant snake-like creature coming towards you. Especially when you can’t see it.

Leaders face unseen danger all of the time.

We deal with team members who are secretly unhappy. We deal with competitors looking to steal our business. And we deal with other unseen dangers.

Know you’re facing unseen dangers. You won’t know what they are but they are out there.

Be ready for the unseen.

4. Fear can kill your potential:

As Earl and Valentine were trying to make it out of town, Valentine saw something in one of the electrical towers. He saw Edgar (Sunshine Parker) hanging out up there…

Except Edgar wasn’t hanging out. He was dead.

Edgar had climbed the tower to avoid a Graboid. He was fearful and wouldn’t come down. He was paralyzed by fear. This caused his death.

Fear can do the same to you. Fear can paralyze you. It will make you unable to move or make decisions.

This inability to move will kill your potential.

Instead of being paralyzed by fear, choose to move forward with fear. Acknowledge the fear. Then keep going. You can’t let fear stop you.

5. Look for new opportunities:

A Graboid had attached itself to Earl and Valentine’s truck. They broke free, without knowing, and drug part of the Graboid back to Walter Chang’s (Victor Wong) market. There, people saw something attached to their axel.

It was the Graboid. Chang offered to buy the Graboid carcass from the pair. The three haggled with one another until they settled on $15. Earl and Valentine thought they got a great deal. They didn’t…

Chang set up a photo booth with the Graboid. He put a sign above it charging $3 a photo. Chang was making a killing!

There are new opportunities all around us. We’ve seen that lately with the COVID-19 pandemic.

People are finding ways to convert their factories from what they traditionally manufacture to masks to help combat the virus. They’re also seeing ways to do work from home.

Opportunities are out there. Look for them. Seize them when they come!

6. Listen to your team:

Earl and Valentine tried to use horses to get out of Perfection and get help. They made it almost out of town when the horses were spooked.

Earl believed the horses sensed something. They did. They realized there were Graboids in the area.

The spooked horses alerted Earl and Valentine to a threat. They needed to listen to the horses (their team).

We need to listen to our teams as well. They’re seeing things on the production floor we’re unable to see. They’re seeing signs in the marketplace that we may miss.

Our team can be our eyes and ears if we let them.

7. Use what’s available:

After a Graboid slammed into a cement culvert, it died. This is the point in Tremors where Earl and Valentine run into Rhonda for the first time.

Rhonda theorized there were more Graboids than the one that died. She believed there were 3 more. This meant the trio had to be careful. The Graboids could attack again.

The trio wandered a bit and discovered a safe place on the rocks. Except they couldn’t get anywhere. They were stuck… Until Rhonda noticed poles that could be used for construction.

They used the poles to pole vault from one residual boulder to the next. They used what they had available.

You may think you don’t have all the tools needed to be successful. You may be right. The right tools may not be available. Yet, you may have tools available to you that would work.

Look for ways to use your current tools in new ways. Could they get you through the pinch you’re in?

8. Leaders don’t have all the answers:

Rhonda was a scientist. She had been studying the weird seismic activity in Perfection. When the residents of Perfection figured this out, they began to ask her all sorts of questions about the Graboids.

Rhonda didn’t have an answer. She had never seen anything like these creatures. She couldn’t help the residents.

I think we all feel we have to be Superman at times. We feel we have to have all of the answers… or we can’t be considered a leader.

You don’t have to have all of the answers. You won’t have all of the answers. What you can do is help people find the answers to their questions.

This is what great leaders do. They help their team find the answers.

Be an answer finder.

9. What was once safe may no longer be safe:

To avoid the Graboids, the residents scrambled to the roofs of the buildings in their town. They figured they’d be safe there.

And they were… for a time.

The Graboids realized what was going on. They began to circle the buildings. They began to ram the building supports.

The buildings began to become unstable. They shook. They began to crumble.

What was once safe wasn’t safe anymore.

I know I’m guilty of seeking out the safe things. I’ve written for years. It is safe for me. I’m comfortable there.

Yet it’s not safe. It doesn’t provide a sustainable income. I have to get out of my comfort zone and find a way to transition the blog and my knowledge into an income stream.

It was safe at one point. It no longer is.

You have areas of safety you’re unwilling to give up. They may have been cash cows at one point. Or they may have been friends.

Now, they’re no longer safe. They’re not doing what they used to.

You have to figure out what to do next. Your safety is no longer guaranteed.

10. Find creative solutions:

The Graboids had made their way to Burt and Heather’s home. They were attacking the couple. The couple was in trouble.

What do they do? Rhonda saw a creative solution. She was on a water tower that could make noise.

Rhonda kicked the pipe coming out of the water tower. It broke. The water poured out and made noise.

This creative solution drew the Graboids away from Burt and Heather so they could escape.

Creative solutions are all around us. We only have to look for them.

Once again, we’ve had to become creative in the last couple of weeks.

Remote connections were quickly pieced together. Video conference tools were sought out. Government programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program were put together.

Creative solutions help us get through our problems. You can be creative!

11. Burt Gummer:

I wouldn’t give you a gun if it were World War III.

Melvin was a trouble maker. He pretended a Graboid was attacking him. He laughed at Earl and Valentine when their hose broke and sewage spewed all over them.

So… when Melvin asked Burt for a gun, Burt refused. He wouldn’t trust the kid with a gun even in the most dire of circumstances.

You have to be careful about how you treat people. Treat people with respect, they will respect you back. Treat people rudely, they won’t respect you.

12. You have to care about what others are doing:

The survivors of Perfection had hopped into a trailer attached to a Cat. They used it to pull them towards the mountains where they would be safe.

The closer they got, they could see something happening further out. The Graboids were breaking through the surface. This was unusual behavior.

The survivors didn’t care though. They were on their way to safety… Until they figured out what the Graboids were doing.

The Graboids had been building a trap. They were creating a ditch the vehicle and trailer would fall into.

Had they cared about what the Graboids were doing, they may have been able to avoid falling into the trap.

Leaders have to be aware of what others are doing. This includes those they lead, other leaders, and other organizations.

You can learn a lot from watching these three groups of people. Some of the things you learn will be positive. Others will be negative. All of what you learn can be put to good use to avoid traps.

By caring about what others are doing, you are opening your eyes to new possibilities.

Question: If you’ve watched Tremors, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Tremors that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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