The beloved Disney classic may be getting a reboot this week, but its important messages on self-belief, perseverance and compassion stay the same. There are some surprising career lessons that Dumbo can also teach us, and we’re here to share them with you.
Embrace what makes you you
Dumbo wouldn’t be Dumbo without his magnificent, oversized ears, and he eventually comes to realise just how special they make him. Everyone is different, and if you excel in a particular skill area but don’t utilise it, this is a waste of talent. If you worry that maybe you’re not good enough and you’ve always bluffed your way to where you are now, there’s a term for this – Impostor Syndrome – and an estimated 70% of people experience it.
No one is 100% confident about what they do, but don’t be nervous about making the most of your skills and seeing where they can take you.
Believe in yourself
Dumbo may have had the right equipment to help him fly, but it’s his belief in the magic feather, and Timothy the mouse’s belief in Dumbo that helps him finally take off. One of the most important career lessons you can take on board is to have faith and believe in your abilities, especially if someone else has told you in the past that you can’t do something.
Don’t let others hold you back
In the previous point we mentioned people telling you that you can’t or won’t achieve something, and here lies a very important career lesson. There will always be someone who tells you this, either through envy at your skills and success or just out of spite, but you’ve got to develop an elephant’s thick skin, and let what they say slide right off your trunk.
A group of spiteful elephants in Dumbo initially mock him for his giant ears and make cruel comments, and this pack mentality can present itself in the office or outside of it. It may seem hard, but try not to let anyone else’s remarks affect your motivation or how you view yourself. Just remember that there will always be naysayers, but if you’re happy with yourself that’s all that matters.
Go with the flow
We stand by our opinion that the pink elephant scene in Dumbo is creepy and definitely weird for a children’s film, but it does surprisingly offer an interesting career lesson. When Dumbo imagines the pink elephants sequence it’s unusual, unnerving and just plain unexpected but he goes with the flow and doesn’t let it scare him.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and if you try to rigidly follow an ideal plan it can cause you problems. Not only will things not always work out how you want them to regardless of how hard you try, but if you don’t have any flexibility then you won’t know how it cope when it happens. Learn to go with the flow more and approach unfamiliar or new scenarios with curiosity and interest rather than fear of the unknown. You never know where a crazy pink elephant parade can lead you!
Find friends in unexpected places
According to pop culture, mice and elephants famously don’t let along and leave the pachyderms panicking, and while it may not actually be true, in Dumbo this happens with a twist. Dumbo becomes fast friends with a Timothy Q. Mouse who helps him gain confidence and learn to fly, which goes to show that you can find friends in unexpected places.
In the real world, the best way to make new contacts is through networking, and while it can seem a little nerve-wracking at first, it’s an excellent way to meet people you would never usually interact with. If you think you need a helping hand much like Timothy literally pushing Dumbo off the cliff to take flight, we’ve got lots of networking tips on our blog.