6 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From the Musical ‘The Wiz’

Posted on Posted in Entrepreneurship
credit: Vogue.com
credit: Vogue.com

So I got a confession y’all. As a child, I was deathly afraid of the 1978 classic movie ‘The Wiz.” The scene in the Brooklyn, NY train station scared the sh*t out of me.

But look me at me now! I’m all grown up and recognize the powerful message from the 1978 classic movie The Wiz!. It’s still popular today as it was 40 years ago. Beyond a beautiful star-studded all black cast, a magical NYC backdrop, and award-winning choreography, the classic musical dropped a few lessons in business for entrepreneurs. Check out 6 powerful messages from The Wiz below:

Get out of your comfort zone – Diana Ross plays Dorothy, a shy 24-year-old kindergarten schoolteacher who has a hard time venturing beyond her neighborhood. As a tornado forces Dorothy into the Land of Oz, she’s faced with the daunting task of finding a wizard to help her get back home. But as she finds the courage to face the unknown, she discovers her own power and cultivates friendships with a few unlikely friends. The lesson here is simple, when you step outside your comfort zone, magic happens. Don’t get stuck in routines, take the risk, and adapt to change. Challenges are a great way to add new accomplishments to your life’s work. There’s no playing it safe in business. By the way, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Change your thoughts and you change your world– The Scarecrow lived in fear on a pole for many years. After Dorothy rescued him from the crows, he realized the only thing standing in his way were the crows who told him he couldn’t do it. It can be a tough and lonely journey for entrepreneurs, so a positive mindset is critical. Negative thoughts have power and can leave you feeling trapped and hopeless. Be confident in your abilities, visualize your success, have a purpose, and be disciplined and strategic. As Dorothy said in the movie, “With a little self-confidence and coordination you’ll be fine.”

Count your blessings and cut your losses—This was the advice given to Dorothy as she prepared for her journey down the yellow brick road. When it comes to entrepreneurship, there’s no easy path or blueprint for success. You’ll get sidetracked. You’ll stumble as the Scarecrow did many times, and you’ll get back up and try again. Challenges are opportunities in disguise. Great business leaders learn from mistakes and move on quickly. So embrace the detour and accept failure as a necessary part of the journey.

Form unlikely partnerships for growth and success – As Dorothy traveled along the yellow brick road she met a group of unlikely friends—the Lion, who needed courage, the Scarecrow in search of a brain, and the Tin Man in need of a heart. Once they all agreed to help one another find the Wizard, they conquered Evillene (The Evil Witch), faced challenges on the road and even learned a few new skills along the way. The same situation applies in business—think Dr. Dre’s 3 billion dollar Beats Deal with Apple or TD Jakes deal with Sony Pictures.

Learn how to ask for help – When Dorothy met the Lion, he tried to act like he was tough, but his true nature was quickly revealed when he had to ask the group if he could tag along in hopes that the Wizard would give him courage. One of the biggest mistakes young entrepreneurs make when starting a business is not asking for help. You will never be able to grow and scale your business single-handedly—popular shows like Shark Tank also prove this to be true. Find a group of like-minded people (include people outside of your industry as well) who will challenge your thinking. And know when it’s time to fire yourself. Whether you need to hire a business coach or a virtual assistant, make the decision quickly. Wasted time is worse than wasted money. Helping others should also be embedded in your business model.

Stop waiting for people to validate your existence – The last scene of the movie is pretty powerful and applies to almost anyone. Dorothy and her friends finally meet The Wiz and discover he’s a fraud. But as Dorothy reflects on the challenges they faced during their incredible journey, she realizes that each of them had the power all along. Sometimes, as professionals, we don’t realize our worth or the power we have to change a situation. Believe in yourself, right from the start (the classic song performed at the end by Lena Horn and Diana Ross) And, remember, “inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage,”~Dale Carnegie.

*Note: I originally published this article for Black Enterprise.com.

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