You may not think of your favorite holiday movies as a great career resource, but upon further studying of some of these films (i.e. watching them 100 times each on TBS), I managed to pluck a few pretty good lessons that can be applied to your career. Take heed.
The Family Stone: Let your freak flag fly!
This film is super uncomfortable at times as the character of Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) is an awkward, uptight, and utterly humorless person. But as the film progresses and she begins to unravel we see a whole new side of her. As Luke Wilson's Ben Stone tells her, "You have a freak flag. You just don't fly it." Sometimes we are all so concerned with looking absolutely perfect and never faltering, especially in our careers, that it actually stunts our creativity. So let it fly!
Just Friends: Do prove everyone wrong in your career, but don't forget where you came from.
Just Friends is the classic story of nerdy, fat guy who was teased in high school then goes off, becomes a hugely successful music executive, loses a 100 pounds, and then tries to win back his former high school crush (plus Anna Faris!!) It is great to exceed people's expectations in your career, but don't put down where you came from in the process. Your roots help make you who you are.
The Holiday: Find a supportive partner.
Cameron Diaz's character, Amanda Woods, complains that her ex-boyfriend was intimidated by her success and the fact that she ran her own company. She felt more comfortable talking about being a strong woman with dreamy Jude Law. Everything is probably easier to talk about with Jude Law but still. This goes back to one of Sheryl Sandberg's main messages in Lean In. She wrote that “The single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is,” and her observation that, “I don’t know of a single woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully — and I mean fully — supportive of her career.”
You've Got Mail: A failure can mean new opportunities.
Some people argue that You've Got Mail is kind of a depressing film for small businesses and women as Meg Ryan loses her beloved bookstore to the big, bad corporate giant Fox Books, but she gets a boyfriend in the end? Not the best message but we do see Meg fighting for her business until she no longer can. When it finally does close, she isn't devastated, but is instead excited for all the new career opportunities, like writing children's books.
Home Alone: You can't do it all alone.
Though sometimes we feel invincible, we cannot do everything alone, in our careers and in life. Who knows? If you insist that you don't need other people you may wind up having to defend your house from two armed robbers on Christmas Eve. And not all of us have a scary but super-awesome old neighbor who will come rescue us.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Ask for money upfront and get the money you're due.
If there was ever a woman in business to admire, it is Lucy Van Pelt. Ask for your money upfront when giving precious advice (or at least a retainer) and invest in real estate.