3 Important Career Lessons I Learned From Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones was the coolest archaeologist that ever lived. When I was a kid I had no idea what an archaeologist was or what they did, but I knew that if they had the opportunity to travel and save the world from ancient evils, I wanted to be one.

As I  relive these moments of innocence I realize that many of the lessons that I learned watching this movie are still relevant today. Here are a few career lessons I learned from Indiana Jones:

Always wear your lucky hat

Dr. Jones always wore a dusty, old hat that he would risk life and limb for because he felt it was lucky. In a study on success, Stanford Professor Carol Dweck concludes that there are growth mindsets and fixed mindsets. The growth mindset believes that you can become better, more efficient, smarter and ultimately more successful through failure and effort. On the other hand, the fixed mindset believes that people are born with a finite amount of ability and their successes are a by product of that ability. Dweck  concludes that both mindsets are real and based on the belief system of the individual, one can ascend to higher levels of performance or remain based on how they view their failures.

Indiana Jones seemed to have both mindsets. When he was teaching his courses as Dr. Henry Walton Jones (without his hat), he practiced a fixed mindset and lived a life that was mundane, but when he was Indiana (with the hat) appeared he took risks, made mistakes and had amazing adventures.

We should do the same in our careers.

Many times we find ourselves living a life that is subpar, because we have internalized a narrative that is not of our own making. We pursue “safe” jobs that we hate in order to maintain a life that we do not enjoy. We are acting like Dr. Jones instead of putting on our lucky hats and jumping out and making some mistakes and learning from them. My advice: Do the thing you are afraid of. Which brings me to my next point…

Grab your fears by the throat

In the climax of every movie, Indiana faces his biggest fear in order to save his life or complete his adventure. That fear: Snakes. Whether they were on a plane that he was flying or used as a rope for to save himself from drowning in quicksand, Indy had to grab his fear by the throat in order to save himself from death.

Our lives are the same. Many times we find ourselves on the cusp of success and we are faced with issues, challenges and fears that always seem to appear, but what we must realize is that the fear will not kill us and in most situations will propel us forward into our goals.



X marks the spot

In the very first movie, Dr. Jones teaches a class on archeology and famously states, “X never ever marks the spot.” He was implying that finding answers in life is complicated and if it were as simple as finding the X and going after it, we all would. This was a lesson he taught but refused to live by. In the movie, he ultimately  found his destination under a giant X, where it truly marked the spot.

Business consultants have built a multi-billion dollar industry around developing S.M.A.R.T. goals, personal performance and achievement, all in an effort to help people identify, define and locate their X. Through the course of striving to achieve our endeavors we are all faced with  multiple barriers that can distract us from our mission, and lead us off our trail. You can choose to fall victim to these distractions or be steadfast on your goals. When all we must do is define X and move closer to it everyday.

The truth is being successful is simple, it’s also extremely difficult. While most of life’s coveted treasures are marked with a giant X, we try to fool ourselves into thinking that we can reach these goals without facing our fears and learning from our mistakes. Indiana Jones taught me that in order to live an awesome life, I must learn from my failures in real time and  have the discipline to pursue my goals in the midst of.

About the Author

I’m Phil. Self-proclaimed business nerd and career strategist. Throughout my career I have helped start companies, bring ideas to life, and launch new initiatives. Today, I act as a bridge between potential and opportunity. I consider my greatest strength to be the ability to bring out the best in others; my weakness… peanut butter cookies.

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