At the Intersection of Peck and Disney
The second best-selling nonfiction book of all time after the Bible is psychologist Morgan Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. His message is that personal growth is a “complex, arduous and lifelong task” — which most choose to avoid. If we can accept responsibility for our growth by actively embracing the discomfort instead of pretending that it will simply fade away by ignoring it, then we can achieve the quality of our life we seek to have.
Peck’s book is fairly easy to understand, yet its theory is brought to life on the big screen by Disney in the movie Saving Mr. Banks. By blending Peck’s theory with Disney’s art imitating life, we can readily understand how Peck’s theory of the “sins of the father” impacts us in the workplace.
The Sins of the Father
Peck addresses how individuals are conditioned (i.e. impacted) significantly by parents and/or parental figures. Poor parenting can result in neuroses and character disorders.
In Disney’s film Saving Mr. Banks, we follow the story of the British author P.L. Travers, who is the creator of the story “Mary Poppins.” The film reveals how Travers based Mary Poppins loosely around the details of her own life, transposing herself into the role of the nanny – as the rescuer of the family, which enabled her to create, as the nanny, more order and levity in a world that was filled with chaos.
In her real life, Travers was self-imprisoned in pain because she could not get over her past. Painful reminders triggered her behavior towards others to be off-putting/rude/disrespectful. When Disney produced the film with a happy ending, Travers experienced a cathartic release. Mr. Banks was saved. Saving Mr. Banks saved Travers momentarily. Peck’s point is we can never self-actualize (i.e. grow into our full potential) until we save ourselves; and, that requires work.
The “sins of the father” surface daily within the workplace. Talent emerges from the home environment into employment with a collection of needs which often stem from pain. Those who suffer may have a strong driver to succeed in an effort to prove their worth, which can turn ugly.
- The colleague who lacked attention from her parents growing up will stop at nothing to gain recognition in the workplace…to the point of using Machiavellian moves.
- The colleague who felt rejection from his mother who sent him off to a strict (barbed-wire surrounded) boarding academy ends up persecuting those female direct reports who he perceives as challenging instead of serving as acolytes.
- The colleague whose parents never accepted his sexual orientation and ends up winning the trust of a CEO, which gains him a high-level position; whereupon he ruthlessly leads with the thirst of power/revenge he craved for so long as an adolescent.
We are each the sum of our experiences. We have been conditioned by our experiences to behave in a way which helps us rise above from the pain. That behavior may not be healthy for you, nor for others around you.
- Meet regularly with your company’s Industrial/Organizational Psychology or Organization Development practitioner.
- Request specific, constructive feedback in your 360 review and/or conversations.
- Utilize your company’s Employee Assistance Program to work with a counselor.
- Seek counsel from a spiritual leader.
- Hire an executive coach.
May your journey be enjoyable, despite the bumps. And, the bumps build character.
Scott Peck: “All my life I used to wonder what I would become when I grew up. Then, about seven years ago, I realized that I was never going to grow up – that growing is an ever ongoing process.”
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a constantly growing Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Posted on July 5, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Disney, Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, Road Less Traveled, Saving Mr. Banks, Scott Peck, Self-actualization, Sins of the Father, theory and film. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.