My wife is a Mary Poppins fan, so in turn, my son and I have become fans. For those who don't know who or what “Mary Poppins” is, Mary Poppins is a 1964 musical live-action/animated film about a magical nanny, played by Julie Andrews, who comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family. In the film, Mary Poppins teaches valuable life lessons to the children thru fun while also transforming the strict, no nonsense father into a more caring and compassionate father and husband. The film is silly and makes my toddler smile every time he watches it, but there are some lessons in the film that could be applied to business.
There is a scene where Mary Poppins is trying to get the children to clean their room and she tells them: "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and - SNAP - the job's a game!" For many of us, turning work into some type of game (or competition) really brings out the best in us. Our primal instinct to win or overcome comes out and we enjoy work a lot more.
Later on in the film Mary Poppins takes the children on an adventure and tells them "People who get their feet wet must learn to take their medicine." The lesson there is that every action has a consequence. In business, our clients expect near perfection from us. When we miss the mark, we must be prepared to accept responsibility and take the appropriate actions.
Mary Poppins is portrayed to be “practically perfect in every way”, but there is a moment in the movie where her philosophy would not work at all in business. Mr. Banks is questioning how she handles the children and her response is: “First of all, I would like to make one thing quite clear, I never explain anything.” In the context of business, transparency is an absolute must in almost every industry and business. If a client or potential client wants an explanation about why things work the way they do, a business better be prepared to share and explain.
The overall theme of the movie is that we may all take ourselves a little too seriously. A little laughter can go a long way. There are visuals in the film that reflect how laughter can turn even the most serious of situations into one that seems more manageable.
If you haven’t watch Mary Poppins, I highly recommend putting it back on and enjoying a classic of American film making. What lessons do you see? How can you make your business be “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!