Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Moments of Conception 198: The Quitting Scene from Jerry Maguire

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

Based on my books in The Prolific Series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the quitting scene in Jerry Maguire:

I can’t dance to your fidgety tune. Saying goodbye to people is hard. Not having anybody to say goodbye to is harder. But having people to say goodbye to, and none of them caring that you’re leaving, that’s the hardest. Because human beings need to believe that they belong. That their contribution matters. That their voice is heard and that they would be missed when they’re gone. I once worked for a company who, initially, was nothing but completely supportive and encouraging and appreciative of my value. They made me part of the team. They made my thinking a key part of their organizational process. And I felt validated and believed in on a level that I’d never felt before. But after about a year, the veil slowly lifted. I started to see the relationship for what it really was. And I realized that the company didn’t need me, they just need someone. They weren’t looking for a creative visionary, they just needed another warm body to fill their hole of mediocrity. And so, despite my efforts to create what I thought belonged there, despite my earnest attempts to infect the team with some much needed enthusiasm, I finally understood that I was working in the wrong environment. I didn’t belong there. I never did. I just made the mistake of turning what I found into what I want. And the saddest part is, when I announced to the team that I was moving on to other opportunities, nobody cared. Nobody came running up to me with tears in their eyes. Nobody even said goodbye or wished me good luck. I just walked out the door in silence, feeling betrayed, sad and invisible. A sobering reminder of just how cold the world can be sometimes. When was the last time you felt like an outsider?

Fleas swatted off the carcass of an immense beast. Jerry’s state of advancing melancholy is sad, but seeing him slowly come unhinged as the other agents try not to watch him leaving, that’s simply devastating. It’s a human train wreck. Another cruel hoax dangled before the hungry hearts of the na├»ve. And yet, staring into the eyes of that goldfish, he finds power. Jerry promises that this moment will be the ground floor of something real and fun and inspiring and true in this godforsaken business, and they will do it together. Then he asks the legendary question, who’s coming with me? Initially, he’s met with crickets. Nothing but the dull buzz of phones and copy machines. In fact, there’s a powerful passage in the original script that says, after a beat of silence, the noise then returns to its normal commercial roar as a couple of fleas have been swatted off the carcass of an immense beast. Wow. You can’t invent that kind of cruelty. In fact, awkward office moments just like this probably happen around the world every day. Employees make their exits, only to discover that their coworkers aren’t genuinely interested in their future plans, they’re just being polite. Coworkers make nice, but secretly hate each other. It breaks my heart. Because I really do believe there are organizations out there that serve as oases in the desert of corporate mediocrity. It’s just a matter of finding them. Or them finding you. Where is the place that, when you walk through the door, your soul just opens up?

A little belief goes a long way. Jerry’s mission statement is the reason he got fired. Dorothy, on the other hand, locked in to his philosophy. Earlier in the movie, she tells him that optimism like that is a revolutionary act. That we should embrace what it is still virginal about our enthusiasm and force open the tightly clenched fist of commerce to give a little back for the greater good. That’s why she raises her hand and follows him into the entrepreneurial sunset. Because his art helped her find something worth believing in. That’s fundamental existential need art can satisfy for people. The craving for a horizon to chase. The ability have something to get out of bed and point to. It’s the perfect illustration of how we all need that first person to take us seriously. We all need that number one fan, that person who has our back no matter what, and when there’s no one beside us when our soul embarks, they will follow us into the dark. To quote the greatest love song of all time. But what I love most is the last scene of the movie. Jerry not only has a number one fan, but he becomes a number one fan for someone else. He pays the love forward. And a result, his client secures an eleven million dollar deal to finish out his professional career. Proving, that the chain of support flows both ways. And a little belief can go a long way. Who was the first person to believe in you?

What did you learn from this movie clip?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

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