Pirate Wisdom

The first Pirates of the Caribbean was a fun film to watch.  I haven’t seen any of the subsequent films but, like Yoda in the Star Wars films (like “Do or do not, there is no try”), Captain Jack Sparrow has some funny lines that are also good advice.

Can and Can’t

At one point, Captain Jack tells young Will Turner that there is what a man can do, and what a man can’t do.  It is a better way of saying what my sister-in-law once termed coulda, shoulda, woulda.  We all make choices and some of them are good ones, and some are not.  Some are good and just don’t work out the way they were planned.  There is a lot of talk about embracing failure these days (here, here, and here, for starters) (or at least learning from it, if not actually doing it).

Once the decision is made and action is taken, it is time to move forward.  I have seen committees and other groups spin in circles talking about high minded goals and aspirations for success.  But if they do not have the means to achieve them, they fall in the can’t do category.

We all have limitations – budget, skill set, other resources – that proscribe what choices and directions we go.  It doesn’t mean we can’t be creative about our directions, but decision makers can be more effective if they make the can and can’t list early on, and move forward.

Madness and Brilliance

Captain Jack Sparrow also notes how often madness and brilliance coincide.  It makes me think of risk takers, and people pushing the envelope.  Organizations can try to avoid the appearance of madness and make the mistake of also missing out on the brilliance.  Sometimes embracing that intersection of traits may mean getting a bit of egg on your face, or getting the organization moving in an uncomfortable direction.  But the end result can be both a payoff in improvements as well as encouraging brilliance (and possible madness) in others, and an organizational culture that values the willingness to take chances and make changes.