What made The King’s Speech a remarkable movie for me was that it delivered three important ways of being in the world: vulnerable, confident and focused.
The King was vulnerable.
Lionel was confident.
Elizabeth was focused.
I learned a lot from my reflections on these roles.
So often, it seems, we think that vulnerability is a negative, something to be avoided.
There is much support in the general culture for being impenetrable, self-sufficient, on top of it, and the like. Vulnerability is seen as a weakness. I don’t think it is.
- Until we can be vulnerable, we will never experience true love.
- Until we can be vulnerable, we will never learn what would help us most because we think we’re supposed to already know it, and admitting that we don’t is a mistake.
- Until we can be vulnerable, we cannot be fully human.
The King knew he was vulnerable and did his best to shore up his resources to demonstrate his lack of vulnerability. What a conundrum! The very thing he needed, he was unsure of his willingness to acquire: help.
There was certainly a time in my life–too long a time, I’d say, from this vantage point in life–when I thought I was supposed to know who I was, what I was doing and need no help from anyone. That was called self-sufficient.
When I was introduced to that wonderful essay, Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson in my senior year of high school (Grade 12 in my Canadian upbringing) I was inspired beyond words. My then-interpretation of it, with an ample helping from my English teacher, was that I could and should be needing nothing from anyone, quite able to manage life myself. It was a great addition to the perfectionism script my parents had ladled out in equally ample doses!
But lately, I’ve been summoned to re-read it because it once again jumped into my mind. Oh, dear, things have changed. Now, it aligns with my calling, my insight, my guidance, my receptivity, my inner wisdom and all those aspects of self that were unknown to me at seventeen years old. When I recently re-read it, I started to underline the important parts. After highlighting the first two pages almost completely, I recognized the gold and gave up the highlighter. This is where that famous phrase,
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day, …To be great is to be misunderstood.”
I encourage you to re-read it.
And, The King’s Speech offers a fine example of confidence. Lionel was quite open in his admission of having no credentials. He proudly let the results be the testimony to his methods and skills. He did not cower in the face of losing a celebrity client. He did not back down or get wishy-washy. He simply said that he knew what he was doing, his results spoke for themselves, and the King could make up his own mind if that was acceptable to him.
Wow! What a fine example for those of us who scurry undercover not even letting our results speak for themselves. We simply do not step up and step out. Some folks allow what they do not have to rule out the possibilities of what they do have and could have. How would your life or business change if you had the courage of your convictions, your knowledge and your intuition?
And, finally, focus. Recently I re-read the acronym for F.O.C.U.S.: Follow One Course Until Successful. Elizabeth, the King’s wife, was focused. She searched out Lionel. She took her husband to see him, even though she knew her husband would have qualms about the treatment, location and proprietor. She stood by her husband as he summoned up the courage to decide, and she celebrated with him when he succeeded. Good questions for ourselves:
- Do we know the actual gifts we have to offer the world? Have we searched it out through reflection to see what is truly ours?
- Do we place ourselves where we need to be to find the best help we can for our specific purposes and goals?
- Do we expect everyone to approve of our choices?
- Do we stay with the idea long enough to fully know what is possible, and do what it takes to realize it?
- Do we celebrate ourselves for being ourselves: making our unique contribution to the world rather than going along with the expectations of others?
There is so much to be learned from that wonderful movie, The King’s Speech. Whether it was historically accurate or not is beside the point for me. The learning was great and the inspiration, high.