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Business Lessons From the Matrix

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Business Lessons From the Matrix

Knowledge can come from unexpected sources and business lessons can come in many situations.

Every experience you have is an opportunity for growth, and that includes going to the movies. Sometimes what you think is going to be just another popcorn movie turns out to provide some great insight into the world. And that includes the world of business.

The Matrix was a ground-breaking movie made in 1999, where the uber-cool Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) in a long black leather jacket and slick sunnies shoots his way through a virtual world created by sentient computers to keep the entire human race enslaved as a source of power to run their machines.

I loved this movie when I first saw it many years ago and was blown away at first viewing by its breathtaking action scenes and revolutionary special effects. I’ve seen it many times more since that first viewing and have learned something new each time as I’ve absorbed more of the underlying story. And I think many of those learnings can be applied to the world of business. 

I think I’ll need a few articles to cover all my business lessons from the movie – here are just a couple of them.

Take the red pill 

Neo’s mentor in the Matrix is Morpheus, which is a name I have just discovered (see, new learning opportunities really are everywhere, even when writing an article about it!) is the Ancient Greek god of dreams, or sleep, which is entirely appropriate for his role in the movie.

A famous scene has Morpheus holding in his hands one Red Pill and one Blue Pill as he says to Neo:

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

The message I take from this is one of perspective, of challenging what you perceive as reality.

Are you really achieving all you can with your business? Is your business success actually limited by the factors that you think it is? And are you doing absolutely everything possible to have your business running at its maximum efficiency to achieve its full potential?

The Red Pill / Blue Pill duality has come to represent a choice between the Red Pill’s life of hard facts and brutal truth or the Blue Pill’s life of illusion and blissful ignorance.

Think about this in the context of your business. Are you kidding yourself about what is going on in your business?

Are you not facing up to some harsh truths in what you or your staff are doing? Are you ignorant of some serious challenges that exist in your business or might be just around the corner?

You owe it to yourself to take the Red Pill and look at your business through the lens of a harsh but truthful judge.

There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path

A pivotal scene from the movie has Morpheus saying: 

Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

The crux of this message and another business lesson is all about action. So often, we know what we should do and yet we don’t do it.

For example, in terms of our own fitness, we know that in order to be healthy we simply need to eat less and move more, and yet so often we don’t do it – we have the knowledge, but the action is lacking.

In our business, we know that in order to grow or be more profitable, we need to get on the phone, work our contacts, develop new products, improve our existing products, work on our marketing, streamline our sales system, keep an eye on costs, improve our efficiency and so on.

And yet, ask yourself – are you really doing absolutely everything you need to do in your business in order to grow or to improve your bottom line? 

Deep down, I suspect you know what you need to do, but may not be doing it. It’s not a question only of knowledge, but rather knowledge combined with action.

See every experience as an opportunity for learning

We absorb tens of thousands of bits of information every day and throughout our lives have millions of thoughts and countless experiences.

Rather than seeing this as an overload, try to apply your business filter to your senses and adopt an attitude of learning – see every experience as an opportunity for growth. You might just make your way out of The Matrix.

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