Learning From The Best
For the past few weeks, we’ve been learning about the power of story. It’s so much more than entertainment – it’s an essential part of how we connect in every facet of life, including business.
Today, we get to learn from the masters. Seriously, I believe the greatest stories of our time are being told in an unexpected place, and they’ve shared their secrets with the world. Can you guess who we’re talking about?
I’ll give you a clue…
OK, that was more than a clue haha. But seriously, if you’ve read Creativity Inc. or seen their “22 Rules of Storytelling” online, you know: don’t underestimate these movies just because they’re animated. And here’s how I know that they’re the best: the way they take the absolute most impossible ideas and make them happen.
- Understanding a 12-year-old’s emotions? Inside Out.
- Exploring the existential realities beyond life on earth? Soul.
- And maybe the most challenging of all… taking the grossest thing in the world and making it lovable: A rat in the kitchen.
(Side note: I wonder if that’s part of Pixar’s genius – choosing the worst idea they could think of and finding a way to pull it off. It’s like that quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention” – maybe we should be more willing to lean into what looks like a bad idea, or times where we feel painted in a corner. Those moments could be the source of our greatest innovation!)
Back to the story: Remy is the rat of all our dreams, and he truly loves the magic of food. But based on his appearance, the last place in the world he would ever be welcome is a kitchen.
Once again, a guide comes along to show him the way: Gusteau, the famous French chef whose motto is “Anyone can cook.” He encourages Remy with advice that speaks to us all:
“You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.”
Wow. Imagine waking up every morning and starting the day with that quote. Gusteau’s mentorship changes Remy’s life, ultimately leading him to become the most unconventional chef in Paris.
Let’s review how this matches up with the story building blocks we’ve been talking about each week:
- Who’s the main character in the story? Remy
- What’s the character’s problem? He’s a rat who wants to be a chef.
- What/Who is the guide that the character meets? Gusteau
- How does this guide help the character? Helping him believe that anyone can cook.
- What’s the plan? Removing the mental obstacles that cause Remy to doubt that his dream is possible.
- How did he execute this plan? Hiding in a chef’s hat so that a human could help orchestrate his culinary brilliance.
- Did he win? The most feared restaurant critic, Anton Ego, took one bite of his dish and was immediately transported back to his childhood, restoring his love of food and inspiring him to declare Remy “nothing less than the finest chef in France.”
- How did the character transform? He left the sewer behind, along with all the self-imposed limitations of what he could become, and there’s now a restaurant in Paris called La Ratatouille entirely staffed by rats.
The other thing I appreciate about this story is how Remy’s journey affects so many others: his family, the humans in the kitchen, Anton Ego. It makes me wonder: who are the people around us right now who are just waiting for us to start our story, so that theirs can begin as well?
We’ll let Gusteau have the last words. He told Remy, “There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it.” So… what impossible story do you want to write today? “Anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.”