Four Ways “Stranger Things” Teaches Us How to Crush It at Work

Lessons from Stranger Things to thrive at work

I’m obsessed with the Netflix show “Stranger Things.” A cross between Stand by Me, Aliens and Firestarter topped with a huge dollop of early 80’s nostalgia, this compelling ode to the power of friendship is more than just great entertainment. It also contains life lessons for thriving in your career. Here are four ways Stranger Things teaches us how to crush it at work (without revealing detailed spoilers):

  • Teamwork rules. Individually, the kids at the heart of Stranger Things are smart and resourceful. Eleven is a bonafide telekinetic ninja. But they are dealing with some inconceivable challenges that can’t be tackled alone. Chances are good you aren’t facing a crazy otherworldly monster at work (well, I guess that depends on your definition). However, whether you are trying to launch a new product, or turnaround a difficult situation or just kill it in your day-to-day role, a lot more can be accomplished working together in teams than going solo.
  • Focus on the greater good. Okay, true confessions…sometimes Stranger Things scares me to the point that I watch scenes with a hand covering my eyes. What lurks near the Hawkinsville lab is the stuff of nightmares. No matter how terrified they get, the show’s protagonists find the courage to confront the big bads by focusing on the greater good – saving people they love and the community overall. When situations can be intimidating, overwhelming or downright fearful at work, focusing on how your actions will help co-workers and the business in some way can be the impetus to igniting powerful change and achievement.
  • Be open-minded. You might not think a quartet of pre-teen Dungeon & Dragon loving geeks can be heroes, or that adults who seem like train wrecks can rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. In this show, most major characters have an evolution of some kind. The same can be true of the people you work with or have known at different points in your life. Instead of pigeonholing individuals, be open to allowing them to exceed expectations, change and grow beyond what was thought possible. For example, our Senior Vice President of Operations at National DCP started as a truck driver 25 years ago. When his leadership talent became apparent, John was promoted to numerous supervisory roles at the company’s Massachusetts Distribution Center before taking on his current national role. Today, he is our point person for handling major operational initiatives like helping the Dunkin’ stores we serve recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
  • Confront the bullies. As anyone who’s been on social media recently knows, bullies aren’t limited to the schoolyard. They come in all ages, roles and sizes in the workplace too. You know, the guy who always ridicules your new ideas in front of the boss or the area manager that publicly berated an employee during the last regional meeting. The first step should be talking to that individual on a one-on-one basis to educate them about the negative impact of their behaviors or turning to Human Resources for counsel and intervention if needed. And if that doesn’t work, anticipate the bully’s onslaught and diffuse the situation without delving into unprofessional behaviors yourself. Eleven used her powers to stop middle school bullies from attacking her friends, but season two’s new addition Max didn’t need a dose of magic to stand up to her jerky step-brother. For more tips on self-advocacy, check out this post or video.

How have you crushed it at work lately? Has a pop culture phenomenon like Stranger Things ever inspired different areas of your life?

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