Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Uncharted

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

Uncharted brings the classic Playstation video game Uncharted to real life. Which is perfect for Reel Leadership!

In Uncharted, Nathan Drake (Tom Holland, who played Spider-Man) is a conman. He’s working as a bartender who rips patrons off.

Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg in Uncharted

Doesn’t sound like all that great of a guy, huh? He isn’t, but he is…

Nathan meets another conman/adventure seeker while bartending. This man is Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). Sully has information about Ferdinand Magellan’s lost treasure of over $5 billion in gold (sorry guys, this isn’t a true story!).

As Nathan gets swept up in the adventure, Uncharted introduces new characters. More adventure happens. And, of course, leadership lessons abound. Let’s take a look at the leadership lessons in Uncharted.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Uncharted

1. Nathan Drake:

Oh my God! I’m so sorry. That was totally reactive.

In a scene taken directly from the Uncharted video game, Nathan kicks a man while struggling to get onto a plane. The real issue? They had already boarded the plane, were in the air, and traversing pallets of cargo that had been ejected from the plane.

Nathan kicked the man who was a villain. He apologized. Yet, his action was completely reactive.

When we’re reactive, we do things out of instinct or training. Our action is something that we don’t think about.

As leaders, we need to be more than reactive. We need to be proactive.

Being proactive means we see the issues coming for us before they hit. As they come, we begin dealing with the problem before they become a real issue.

Be proactive, not reactive.

2. Know your history:

Nathan’s brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) and a young Nathan (Tiernan Jones) broke into a museum. There, they looked at various pieces of artwork. They stopped at a map.

Sam asked Nathan if he knew who Magellan was. Nathan said he did. He then fixed a piece of history for the audience.

Nathan said Magellan never circumnavigated the world. Magellan had passed away before he could complete it. The truth is that Magellan’s crew completed the circumnavigation.

Sometimes, we get our history wrong. We think we know what a beloved leader accomplished only to discover he didn’t.

When we know our history or the history of those we follow, we can better understand what’s coming, how to deal with issues, and, more importantly, we know the truth rather than the myth.

Make sure you know the correct history of what has come before.

3. Sam Drake:

Greatness comes from small beginnings.

Sam had to leave the orphanage he and Nathan lived after the museum heist. The orphanage was through with his antics.

Before Sam left, he gave Nathan a necklace and told him that Greatness comes from small beginnings.

I believe this is true for so many leaders. There are great leaders who came from nothing.

They had humble beginnings. They were thought of as small or insignificant.

If that’s you, don’t worry about the small beginnings. Your small beginning will be the start of your greatness.

4. Use what you have on hand to succeed:

Nathan and Victor went to an auction to get the second key to Magellan’s treasure. Nathan would create a distraction so Victor wouldn’t have to win the bidding war against Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas).

Donning fancy suits, the duo exited their vehicle and headed to the auction house. Before entering, Nathan popped a piece of bubble gum into his mouth.

Victor made fun of Nathan for this action. But Nathan’s action was just what he would need later on.

Nathan used the bubble gum to stop a door from closing. He placed the chewed piece of gum into the strike plate. The door wouldn’t latch closed.


Why don’t we think more like Nathan? We can begin to look at the items around us to improve our performance or get the job done.

Don’t think everyday items can’t be helpful. They may be just what you need.

5. Hidden secrets create distrust:

Victor told Nathan he had the first key at the beginning of their journey. He only needed the second key.

We discovered this was a lie. Victor didn’t have the first key. Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) held the key they needed.


When Nathan discovered this, he lost some of his trust in Victor.

When are we going to learn that lies do nothing but harm us? And the people we lead?

We cannot lead well if we are lying and keeping secrets. Our people will find out. They will begin to distrust us because of the dishonesty we’ve displayed.

6. Armando Moncada (Manuel de Blas):

Our fortune is dipped in blood.

Armando was Santiago’s father. He was the head of the House of Moncada, the group that financed Magellan’s trip.

Armando was getting ready to give away their fortunes. He didn’t want the blood money.

He realized that money obtained through ill-gotten ways is no way to earn a living.

Be careful how you do business. Are you being honest? Good. Are you conning someone? Not so good.

The way we do business is a reflection of us. We cannot be great leaders if we’re being deceitful.

Be honest, be good.

7. Sometimes teams have to split up:

Nathan, Victor, and Chloe went to a church to search for the treasure. When they arrived, they had to split up.

Chloe and Nathan went underground. Victor went topside and higher.

Their paths diverged, but they were on the same mission.

It can be hard to split up a team, especially a good team. Yet, there are times when teams must be split up.

Most of the time, the split is only for a brief period. The split is to help the team accomplish what they couldn’t do together.

Look at your teams. Is a split a possibility to better results? It may be.

8. Santiago Moncada:

Diversified investment…

Santiago had hired two people to do his dirty work. The pair didn’t know. Eventually, Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) and Chloe met.

The pair had the same mission. They just didn’t know it.

While Santiago isn’t a good guy, leaders can learn a great lesson in Uncharted.

Leaders would be wise to have diversified investments. Whether this is in the business they dabble in or, especially, in the customers they deal with.

Too often, leaders get stuck with one or two major customers and a myriad of smaller customers. This is dangerous.

If the major customer goes out of business, your organization could lose half or more of the business. Make sure you’ve got diversity in your customer base!

9. Victor Sullivan:

Look around kid. You did this. He’d be proud of you.

Victor didn’t claim credit for finding Magellan’s ships or the gold. He gave the credit to Nathan.

More than that, Victor let him know Sam would’ve been proud of him.

Wow! That goes a long way. Longer than you think.

Your people deserve the credit. Give it to them. Then, look for ways to make them feel even more special.

Let them know others are proud of them as well.

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