This weekend I binged on the Lord of the Rings movies. And, yes, purists, I have read the books (several times). Throughout the films, I was astounded by the wisdom and lessons weaved into the storyline. Naturally, as a writer, I felt compelled to share what profoundly impacted me.
1. There are things only you can do.
Just like Frodo Baggins had to bear the Ring by himself, there are things only you can do to complete a journey successfully.
Only you can decide to exercise, eat healthily, and drink enough water. Only you can choose to see a therapist to deal with childhood trauma or whatever else you need to deal with to be a better person.
Only you can decide to upskill yourself with courses, reading more articles and books, listening to podcasts, or doing what you need to grow.
Only you can set boundaries and learn to say “no”. Only you can cut out toxic people or situations from your life.
And just like Frodo, only you can decide to keep pushing on no matter what forces are against you.
2. Some things require a fellowship.
Without friends or a community, Frodo Baggins would not have made it out of the Shire. He needed Sam’s support and love, rescuing and carrying him throughout the journey. Sam also spoke the truth about Smeagol/Gollum having no good left in him. Although, Frodo didn’t listen.
Frodo needed the Fellowship’s protection to fight battles around him, distract Sauron and hold ground while he completed his quest.
Just like Frodo, some things require a community in your life.
You need mentors or friends that speak the truth in your life when you have blind spots. You need a close fellowship to lift you when your journey gets complex, confusing, and heavy.
You need your network or community to keep you sharp, cared for and offer support when needed.
3. Sometimes, you need to pull a Gandalf with the Balrog.
The Fellowship encountered a Balrog (demonic monster) in Moria. At some point, Gandalf stands up against the Balrog, sword and staff in hand, and says, “You cannot pass”. Let’s not completely geek out about this with the details (Durin’s Bane).
There are things you need to stop and confront that are holding you back. Whether dealing with rejection, a lay-off, family trauma, horrible words spoken over your life, or an addiction, insert anything here that’s holding you back. You need to stop, stand against your Balrog and refuse its further passage in your life.
Gandalf had to battle this Balrog to death. Spoiler alert: Gandalf returns from death and middle-earth, ridiculously powerful. Killing the Balrog enabled him to fulfil his purpose.
You need to face your Balrog and fight against it consuming you. Slay that addiction, bad habit, negative attitude, and issues. It will change your life and help you achieve more than you could ever hope for.
4. Be careful whose counsel you keep.
Gríma Wormtongue was the chief counsellor at the court of King Théoden of Rohan. He ‘poisoned’ the king and robbed him of truth with words, lies and half-truths. It nearly destroyed the king. Be careful who you allow to advise and counsel you.
Not everyone wants you to succeed. Some people have agendas and won’t bat a false lash before harming you. They may sound sweet. They may love-bomb you. They may appear wise and all-knowing. They may seem powerful and successful, good-looking and charismatic, but their intent may still be to harm you.
5. Don’t be fooled; even the honourable can be tempted.
Another spoiler alert: one of the most significant quests of Lord of the Rings is to destroy a ring. Destroy the:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them …
‘The Ring’ tempts various honourable men, hobbits, wizards and even an Elvin queen with power. Enslaving power. But power. Even the worthiest and purest are tempted to claim and use the Ring.
The lesson? You can be corrupted by something small, no matter how principled or strong you think you are or how good your intentions may be.
It often starts with small things, and then it grows. Don’t steal office stationery or company time, overcharge people or take what is not yours. Don’t treat anyone as though they are beneath you or discriminate against anyone different from you. Stop being dishonest with your taxes or disloyal to your spouse, friends, and community. Don’t cheat. Don’t lie. Stop gossiping. And be watchful on what can ensnare you.
Even in fiction, there are lessons to be learnt if we are only willing to listen, observe and act.