So here we are at the end of season 4 of AMC’s critically acclaimed The Walking Dead. This season did contain the standard blood and gore that comes with fighting zombies (or ‘walkers’ as they’re known on the show), but it also spent a lot of time showing the psychological toll that years of disappointment and loss have inflicted on the main characters.
Entrepreneurs and business managers face similar trials and tribulations. You see opportunities, you have big hopes and dreams. You work, you strive…and then something bad happens. You lose people along the way. You lose your confidence. Sometimes you just give up altogether. But those who come out on top are the ones who just kept at it.
How do they come out on top? Strangely enough, they may have learned a thing or two from watching The Walking Dead. Here are five lessons you can take away from the show:
1. Don’t look back.
In the show, Rick and company have it pretty good while they are set up in the prison. That all changes when the Governor pays a visit, starts an all-out war to control it, and ends up destroying the place. With their defenses down and walkers pouring in, they have no choice but to leave. Rick smartly advises his son Carl, “Don’t look back.” What’s done is done. Longing and remorse for a place that’s gone can only hurt your chances going forward.
The same holds true in business, especially for entrepreneurs. You may have it good for a while…and then circumstances beyond your control dash all you’ve built. Or you may encounter a great opportunity, but not capitalize on it. Of course, what’s done is done. You have to keep looking and moving forward. It’s the only way that you’ll be able to grow and progress.
2. You can survive unbelievable misfortune if you don’t give up
In The Walking Dead, Hershel’s death is a devastating blow to the entire group. In spite of the incredible pain, however, not even his daughters wallow in despair over his loss. No one completely gives up.
In business, devastating events may occur. You have to be able to put hurt, disappointment, and hopelessness aside in order to resuscitate your venture and survive.
3. Attitude is everything
After the fiasco at the prison, Daryl Dixon is in a foul mood. He is grumpy, pessimistic, despondent…you name it. Beth, who has just witnessed her father’s murder and become separated from her sister, is stuck alone with him. She tries tolerating his attitude, but eventually loses her patience. Ditch the negativity, she tells him. Focus on survival.
The wrong attitude makes it impossible to deal with bad situations. The world of business is full of ups and downs. That is a fact that you just have to accept. You do not have the power to decide, “Nothing bad will ever happen to my business or to my career.” But you can choose your attitude when dealing with bad situations. And if your attitude is negative, then you’ve already made your problems that much worse.
4. You have to make impossible decisions sometimes
In one of the most talked about episodes of season 4, Lizzie completely loses her marbles and freaks out on Carol for killing her walker playmate. To prove her point that some walkers are nice, she decides to sacrifice her sister, Mika, hoping she will turn into a nice, lovable walker. Carol, figuring Lizzie is at the point of no return, murders her.
Business owners and managers often have to make similarly impossible decisions. They have to lay off and fire employees. They have to close unprofitable units and shut down projects that prove unworkable. No-win situations are par for the course. But you still need to make a decision. If you do not, the problem will likely fester, sap time and money, and continue to cause you stress. In the end, you have to do what you have to do.
5. Enjoy the journey, because the destination may not be what you expected
For much of the second half of the season, most of the group follows a set of train tracks. They’re en route to a place called Terminus, believing it promises a safe place and warm welcome. Given the state of the world, though, they must proceed smartly and not take anyone’s word.
The individuals in the group grow as people between when they abandon the prison and when they arrive at Terminus. In business, you may have an ultimate goal, and that’s good. However, do not lose sight of the growth and opportunities that you encounter on your way to that goal. By valuing the journey, you can avoid feeling disillusioned if a goal doesn’t exactly materialize as you anticipated…or if your fail to reach it all. You can take consolation in acquiring the tools to handle whatever challenges you may face on your entrepreneurial or professional journey.
So what did you think of season 4 of the Walking Dead? What professional or personal guidance did you take away from it?