“Doing nothing is often the best course of action. But history was not made by doing nothing.”
Binge-watching TV series online is not always a mindless activity. Contrary to my mother’s beliefs, it turns out one can extract life lessons from quite a number of these shows. I got on the Netflix Originals bandwagon nearly a year ago when the famous House of Cards released and jumped at the idea of a British series inspired by the present Queen of England.
I now find myself glued to Season 2 of The Crown, which is currently navigating Queen Elizabeth II’s life in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Historically and politically, it is a crucial time with the monarchy being challenged by several Commonwealth nations and changing ideologies(what we would call modern times).
The Queen’s dilemma, expertly portrayed by Claire Foy, and the decision-making process provides us a behind-the-scenes look at the prudence of the longest reigning queen in good and bad times and leaders can take a leaf out of this book.
1. The Art of Candor
“…without distraction, lay our cards on the table and talk frankly about what needs to change to make this [marriage] work.”
Queen Elizabeth has been infamous for her steadfastness and frankness, which is often mistaken for being cold/rude. This perception has never deterred her from confrontation where required, whether it be cutting short Prince Phillip’s royal tour to talk about ironing out marital speedbumps or summoning an audience with Prime Minister Macmillan to persuade him to take back his resignation.
Openness and directly addressing sensitive matters at all times is a sign of great strength and sincerity and the more you practice, the better you get at choosing the right words for each frank conversation.
2. Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
This is a cliché but especially difficult to execute when it is beyond your nature. Realizing there is a window of opportunity to make a big difference and grabbing it can make or break careers. The Queen’s visit to Ghana was an exemplary moment in history as she realized the dire need for her intervention when her own government and foreign allies were unable to steer the political talks between the nations.
“I am not a film star, I am the head of the Commonwealth and I am paid to face any risks that may be involved.” the Queen of England to then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
3. Prioritize Self and Family
“Yes, I am Queen. But I am also a woman and a wife.”
The responsibilities keep getting added as you move up the ladder and family life and your own health are the first to take a back seat. The Queen took a break and retreated during the pregnancy of her 4th child, realizing that the strain of her duties was secondary to the health of her child and her own self.
Many times we are faced with this dilemma and whether through peer pressure or the fear of missing a crucial turn of events in our career, we end up feeling almost guilty for not being able to cope up. Don’t try to be a hero. Take some rest, spend time with family, get back your strength to face a new day.
“Let’s not overcomplicate matters unnecessarily. My name is Elizabeth.”
Mounted with grief from the sudden and untimely demise of her father, the King, Her Royal Highness had the presence of mind to focus on just the necessary things. Oftentimes we get into granular details in creating a product that isn’t even necessary when what the people we serve(internal and external customers) are looking for is a way to simplify their problem.
5. Forgiveness vs. Redemption
In the series, the Queen is shown to strive to do “the right thing”, which puts her in awkward situations time and again with people she cares about. In Season 2, The Queen oscillates between her feelings towards her Uncle, the former King. She turns to her faith to seek answers, she questions her decisions every time. That pretty much sounds like all of us when we are presented with the knowledge that someone close to us has either committed a crime or acted contrary to the benefit of the team/company.
It is important to understand that it is possible to forgive someone for what they have done, while not redeeming them of the misdeed and believing that karma will eventually catch up.
What are your favorite moments from Netflix’s The Crown?