Three Universal Lessons from A Wrinkle in Time

The award-winning science fantasy novel, A Wrinkle in Time, written by Madeleine L’Engle has been turned into a family-friendly movie.

The premise of the book is that a NASA scientist, Dr. Murray, disappears for four years. His daughter, Meg, a middle school student, journeys through time and the universe looking for him. While watching it, I took away three lessons which apply universally.

Everyone Needs Mentors

In the movie, Meg has Mrs. Which (cast as Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (cast as Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (cast as Mindy Kaling) to guide her on the journey to look for her father.

Who mentors you? We all journey through life, even if it’s not through the universe and across time barriers. Who guides you through career decisions? Big changes? Provides advice when you face a crossroads?

One or two people may not serve in that same role for all aspects of your life. Seek out those counselors who have gone before you and learn from their experiences.

Re-plan and Re-group

Without spoiling a plot line for those who have not seen the movie (or read the book), at one point in their journey, Mrs. Which advises Meg to re-group and change their plans. Meg argues, insisting they stay the course.

An original plan rarely works without adjustments. The bigger the task at hand, the more likely the need to tweak the plan, if not throw it out altogether.

Avoid over-committing to your project plan. It inevitably leads to disappointment and unmet expectations. Instead, constantly re-evaluate based on changing circumstances. Then adjust as needed along the way. Manage the expectations of your stakeholders accordingly.

The Grass is NOT Always Greener

Meg’s friend from school named Calvin goes on this journey with her. Although Meg’s father has been missing for 4 years, Calvin has a father at home. However, Calvin’s father has unrealistically high expectations of him, and is incredibly demanding. Meg thinks Calvin has a better situation than she does because his dad is home. She learns differently along the journey.

Many of us fall into the same trap. We think another job will better meet our needs, so we resign. We think working for another manager within the same company will better advance our career, so we apply for another position.

In reality, often we should look inside. We all struggle with assumptions. How can you make small changes in your current situation to improve it first, before making dramatic changes? Stop seeking a short cut and put in the work. In the movie, Calvin finds his voice and decides to stand up to his dad. With whom might you need to have a courageous conversation?

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1.