Leadership Lessons to Learn from Jamal (Slumdog Millionaire)

slumdogmillionaire

By Olumide Adeleye

A particular scene caught my attention in the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.” It was of little Jamal (the hero of the story) passing excreta in a pit toilet, which happened to be his elder brother’s source of income. Customers per use of the toilet paid Salim, his elder brother. As Jamal was easing himself on this occasion, a client who was very hard-pressed came. Unfortunately, it was at this time that Jamal decided that he needed the solitude of the toilet and therefore he refused to be hurried out of it. The client left angrily and Salim lost the money he would have been paid.

 

Naturally, he was mad at Jamal. Fortunately for him, the helicopter of Amitabh Bashan (a famous Indain actor) passed by at that same time. Salim quickly thought of a way to punish Jamal: He simply locked up the toilet from the outer side so that Jamal could not get out. Just as he (Salim) had envisaged, as soon as Jamal knew that Amitabh was passing by, his flow of faeces ceased miraculously. He quickly wore his shorts and attempted to get out because (just like other kids and even adults), he badly wanted to have an autograph. It was when he tried opening the door that he discovered that Salim had locked him in and gone away. He was trapped and desperate!

 

So what did Jamal do? He thought fast! He realized that there was only one way to get out of the toilet on time to meet Amitabh. Although the way was not very appealing, his excitement at the prospect of meeting the famous actor got the better of him and he did what he had to do: he covered his nose and jumped right into the pit! He then climbed out from underneath the wood enclosing the toilet. As you can imagine, he was completely covered- with feces! But he didn’t mind. With all excitement, he ran towards the famous actor.

 

As you would expect with an actor of such influence, there was a huge crowd struggling to touch him and if possible, get his autograph. The police were having a bad time trying frantically to control the surge of the crowd. They surrounded the actor and made it impossible for anyone (including Salim) to access him. But out of nowhere, a small boy covered with feces made his way towards the actor.

 

Nobody thought of stopping Jamal- they just wanted to get out of his way as quickly as they could for the odour was… you can imagine. Jamal made a smooth, uninterrupted walk to Amitabh. And within a matter of seconds, he obtained his precious autograph.

 

Why did I tell you this story? To show you three things:

 

First, sometimes you have to be desperate enough to throw caution to the wind if you want to achieve success. You may have to leave a job to become financially free. You may have to break up with that guy every other person wants to have in order to find true love. You may have to abandon your prestigious medical career and become a schoolteacher to find fulfilment.

 

Secondly, if life has given you a big bowl of sh** (or better still, if you are completely immersed in one) and it seems there is no way out, if everyone is running away from you because you stink (of poverty, failure, a bad job…), just remember that the road is also being cleared for you to get to your goal. You can choose to get discouraged and quit or you can make the sh** your motivation and stepping-stone. Let the stink of the sh** clear the way for you!

 

Finally, Jamal got to Amitabh because he wasn’t really conscious of the people around him. He didn’t notice that they were turning their noses and moving away from him. Perhaps if he had, he would have gone to hide. In the first case, he could jump into the pit because there was just one thing on his mind- Amitabh! In other words, he had a goal and he was focused on his goal. The Bible describes Jesus with the words, ‘who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…’ He could face humiliation because there was just one thing set before him: the eventual joy he would get. The best way to motivate yourself is to know where you are going and keep that picture in front of you. See yourself getting there. Replay that picture you see in your mind every single day. You can endure any hardship; face any circumstances as long as you know where you are going.

 

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