Lessons from a Panda Movie : Not Everything is Black & White

Don't just slide into retirement

It had lashed rain all morning and felt extremely cold in a northeastern snap. Typical Irish Sunday in June, I suppose. There was only one thing to do. Hit the cinema. My youngest, Nicole, had me plagued to bring her to see Kung Fu Panda 2. Driving to UCI in Coolock in a downpour, the wipers struggled to keep up with the volume of rain. We ran from the car to the door of the cinema to avoid being drowned.

Disappointing Movie: The film wasn’t great. The original Kung Fu Panda movie was well plotted and funny. This effort, like many follow on movies, was a poor photocopy of its predecessor. ‘Once upon a time’ we used to look forward to the release of an animated movie; now it seems that there are almost too many and the quality has suffered. And, that should have been the end of that. But, sometimes, events can trigger a wider thought.

2nd Chance: Many managerial careers are reflective of the above. They start off great. BIG achievements. Breakthroughs driven by high energy. Solid scores. Then they somehow fizzle as managers reflect on past glories. They talk about yesterday as if it was a better place than tomorrow, looking backwards rather than forwards. They start to feel old and punch an invisible timecard, fantasizing about retirement rather than future achievements, the corporate version of singing ‘Dublin in the Rare Oul Times’.

The Problem: This is a recipe for mental illness as you cannot enjoy the ‘here and now’ – commonly referred to in the literature as mindfulness.

Take Stock: So, where are you on this continuum? Are you making ‘new movies’ or just repeating old tricks? Professor Michael Tushman in New York once offered me the following advice: “It’s easier to get a new audience, than a new speech”. This is very clever in a ‘street smart’ way. But it also represents a view of the world where milking past successes is enough to carry you over the line. It’s not. In the managerial arena, there should be no spectators on the pitch. Today’s game is being played now, not yesterday. And why would you want to coast anyway? We should heed the lesson from Lord Byron: ‘Better to sink beneath the shock, than moulder piecemeal on the rock’. Don’t rust out, burn out. Start making that new movie.

Paul Mooney


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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