The Wizard of Odds

Odds are great that you’ve seen the movie or read the book. However, if you’ve never seen or heard of The Wizard of Oz, you may want to save some time here and simply bypass this particular article. However, you may want to pick up a copy of this classic at your local video store or just view your local TV listing as you can pretty much find it on television on some channel on any given night.

This time-honored masterpiece has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it as a very young child in 1955. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it with friends, later with children, and even later with my grandchildren. I discovered something new every time I saw it, and it’s never grown old for me and the millions of others who have seen it.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this paragon of cinema excellence, and we can easily apply them to our families, our personal lives and/or our careers. On the other hand, I’ve lost count of those I’ve spoken to who never really never “got it” even though they loved the storyline, the characters, and the music.

I know of clients who have discussed the lessons of “Oz” as they relate to the workplace, and I’ve read about therapists who have guided families through major challenges using the many valuable messages lurking in the storyline. I even have a long-time friend and associate who built a thriving consulting business on this popular theme. For those of you with children and/or grandchildren, “Oz” affords you a fantastic opportunity to not only enjoy a very entertaining movie but to share some very precious “life lessons.”

If you think “Oz” hasn’t impacted us as a society, simply consider the number of words and phrases you hear regularly that immediately produces images of that mystical land “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”…. Kansas, tornado, Dorothy, Auntie Em, Toto, Munchkins, Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard, ruby slippers, Glinda The Good Witch, yellow brick road, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Brain–Heart–Courage, Emerald City, Angry Apple Trees, Deadly Poppy Fields, Flying Monkeys, “DingDong The Witch Is Dead” and the list goes on and on.

This American musical fantasy film, based on the 1900 children’s fable by L. Frank Baum, was first released in 1939. It’s hard to believe it’s still so relevant today. Although the many captivating characters are loved by everyone who sees them, the actual “stars” are known by very few. Judy Garland was, of course, a superstar who brought Dorothy to life as no other actress could have done. Ray Bolger, famed dancer, was perfect for the part of the ever-nimble Scarecrow, Jack Haley replaced Buddy Ebson as the Tin Man after the future Beverly Hillbilly almost died from a poor reaction to the silver paint, which transformed him into the loveable metal woodsman, and Bert Lahr, comedian extraordinaire, made you love rather than fear the Cowardly Lion. Frank Morgan, although relatively unknown to viewers, made you believe he was the Wizard. What few “Oz” fans ever realized was the fact that Frank also played the roles of Professor Marvel, a carnival sharkster, the doorman to Emerald City, the cabby driving “the horse of a different color,” and the guard at the gate to the Wizard’s sanctuary, for a total of five different roles in the film. This group of very talented actors joined forces with a couple of unique witches and a community of Munchkins to dance and sing their way into our hearts forever.

Decades after the movie premier, the English band America attempted to explain one of the many morals of the story in their rendition of a song called “Tin Man.” They summarized the entire movie with the line: “Oz didn’t give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have.” That line was one of two that should be shared with our children while they’re still young. The other is summarized by Dorothy’s cherished observation that “There’s no place like home!”

These messages have touched the hearts and souls of millions over the decades as demonstrated by the longevity of the music and the messages. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” was recently featured as a final performance by an American Idol for millions of devoted fans. In 2003, New York City welcomed the debut of the box office smash “WICKED.” This Broadway favorite is the story of two girls who meet in the Land of Oz long before Dorothy dropped in. These two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. This spellbinding new musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards … winning three of those. There are currently five productions running — on Broadway, on a U.S. National tour, in Chicago, in L.A. and in London’s West End.

While this entertaining epic will live on forever and entertain legions of both old and new fans, it will also be a very valuable learning tool for anyone who truly examines the many treasures offered throughout the cherished storyline. Discuss them with your children and encourage them to apply them regularly as they face the challenges of growth and success. Apply them consistently within your work culture to realize the true value they offer to everyone involved.

For instance:
“Oz didn’t give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have.”
Seek, discover, and utilize the tremendous potential we possess within our current staff members. Close the “Knowing-Doing Gap” to increase productivity without adding a single dollar to your payroll.

“There’s no place like home!”
Spotlight and share the many assets within our organization that we so often take for granted. Create an appreciation for resources and benefits we often overlook.

Like the loveable Lion, muster the courage to see and acknowledge the reality we must deal with in today’s competitive and challenging environment.
You’ll have to do it sooner or later. The sooner the better.

Emulate the tireless Tin Man by finding the heart to own your circumstances, no matter how difficult that may prove to be.
It’s not what happens to you in life … it’s how you react to it that makes the difference.

Mimic the Scarecrow, obtain the wisdom to solve any problem or overcome any obstacle that stands in your way.
Never stop learning. When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you’re rotting. Examples of each appear daily in news headlines. The choice is yours.

And, finally, imitate Dorothy and exercise the means to make things happen, allowing you to get the results you want.
Take action. Become a mono-maniac with a mission.

Do these things regularly and you’ll find the happiness and contentment you’re searching for!

And, every now and then, take the time to take in a good movie with a friend or loved one. In fact, consider The Wizard of Oz. With any luck, maybe we’ll meet someday, and we can talk about our thoughts on “Oz” … “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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