One of the greatest pieces of business and personal advice ever did not come from Jim Collins, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Tony Robbins, or any other management / life guru. The greatest piece of business and personal advice ever came from Prince Denis. That’s right, Prince Denis. You don’t know him? Of course, you do. You know him by his “aka” – He was the Mayor of Munchinland in The Wizard of Oz. His tremendous piece of business and personal advice?
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
How do I chart a course for my business that is unique? Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
How do I achieve personal fulfillment? Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
The Wizard of Oz is very insightful in terms of the advice and guidance it gives us for our personal and professional journey.
The Road is easy! Until it’s not! “Weeeeeeeeee’re off to see the wizard. The wonderful Wizard of Oz. We hear he is a whiz of a wiz; If ever a wiz there was; If ever, oh ever a wiz there was; The Wizard of Oz is one because; Because, because, because, because, because; Because of the wonderful things he does…”
When Dorothy and Toto start out on their journey, the road before them is smooth sailing for as far as they can see. If the road did not look smooth at the beginning, who would ever start a journey? (Of course, I am speaking of metaphorical journeys – i.e. life and business. Every actual journey these days (traffic, TSA, airline seats, “comfort pets”) is the polar opposite of a Yellow Brick Road).
The key to success in life and business is not the start of the journey – it is the perseverance through all the twists and turns and obstacles you encounter along the way. The advice from the Mayor was to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”. You will note that he never said it would be easy. It just looked that way!
“Poppies! Poppies will make them sleep!” In our journey toward business and personal fulfillment, we will always encounter our “Wicked Witch of the West” (mine is actually a “competitor” from the east). They will constantly try to throw you off course. They will try every trick in the book. When you Follow the Yellow Brick Road, you are doing something that most people will not / do not want to do. Notice how everybody in Munchinland knew how to get to Oz? But, none of them were willing to follow their own advice. Similarly, in life, those of you that choose to Follow the Yellow Brick Road will encounter the witches that want to see you fail, if only to avoid highlighting their own fears and inadequacies.
“You killed her” Everyone remembers the lines/scene right before this one – “I’m melting! I’m melting!” But, for me, the real insight is that the guard was stunned that water was the antidote to the Wicked Witch. It was almost a head slap of “Why didn’t we think of that?” The key to business and life is to recognize that, more often than not, the solution to your problem is usually the simple one (water) and you don’t need to overcomplicate it. And, of course, once you conquer your Wicked Witch, the Ruby Slippers are yours!
“But, I have the ruby slippers!” “Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I think this scene is hysterical. The vast majority of people you will encounter in business and in life are OK with the status quo. They are not interested / willing to Follow the Yellow Brick Road. So, in order to achieve your dreams, you cannot rely on others to recognize your special qualities. You have to keep knocking on the door! They will not let you in the first time…or the second… or the third. Then, you have to show them / tell them why you are special! It is the single most finessed aspect of achieving business and personal success – recognizing you are special and showing others you are special WITHOUT acting like you are special. Master that and you won’t “be in Kansas” for very long.
“There’s No Place Like Home” Why did Dorothy Follow the Yellow Brick Road in the first place? Why did she seek to find the Wizard? To Get Back Home! It is the beginning and the ending. It is the impetus and the goal. It is the ultimate secret. Everything you seek on your journey in business and life is sitting right at your starting point. But, without the journey, you just can’t appreciate it.
“I’ve traveled here and everywhere following my job
I’ve seen the paintings from the air brushed by the hand of God
The mountains and the canyons reach from sea to shining sea
But I can’t wait to get back home to the ones He made for me
Cause anywhere I’ll ever go and everywhere I’ve been
Nothing takes my breath away like my front porch looking in”
Michael C. Marcon is the founder of M3K Holdings, an Operating Partner of Altamont Capital Partners, Chairman of The Marcon Foundation, and the former founder, Chairman and CEO of Equity Risk Partners.