Chaos, Control and Power: What ‘Jurassic Park’ Teaches Us About Letting Go
This week, I was so preoccupied with whether I could make an episode of SUCCESS Movie Rewind about Jurassic Park that I didn’t stop to think if I should. Well, I did, so “hold onto your butts.”
This is a fantastic film. It’s a wild ride, and you could say it defined a generation of moviegoers’ expectations when it comes to big-budget sci-fi movies. My hope is that this episode of the podcast also defines your expectations when it comes to sci-fi films about dinosaurs that teach you lessons, which I’m officially going to start calling SUCCESS Movie Messages™.
Welcome back to SUCCESS Movie Rewind, the only podcast in podcast history to ask what dinosaurs can teach us about personal growth. Let’s do this.
You should always count on chaos.
Our first SUCCESS Movie Message for Jurassic Park is “Life finds a way.”
Just kidding—that’s a little too easy, though it’s a great tagline and a driving force behind the events of the movie. And the events, as you know, are about the chaos that happens inside a giant theme park full of real, live dinosaurs.
But that chaos wasn’t supposed to happen, right? The dinosaurs were genetically engineered to be all female so that they wouldn’t reproduce. But the park didn’t count on the frog DNA allowing the dinosaurs to switch sexes.
As it tends to do, chaos ensues. We love to see it in films, of course, but in real life? Not so much.
The problem is that chaos always seems to happen. Whatever you have planned—whether it’s a new business, a side hustle, a new fitness regimen or something else entirely—something will go wrong. In other words, chaos finds a way.
That’s why you should always count on chaos. To “count” on chaos, you need to incorporate the principle of “antifragility,” as coined by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This goes beyond designing your goals and ambitions to withstand resistance; it quite literally asks you to create systems that actually become stronger when they encounter resistance.
That might look like an in-depth post-mortem to see what you can learn every time something goes wrong, or it might simply be a conscious effort to double down when you are faced with chaos. In any case, you should count on chaos by becoming antifragile.
Total control is a bad goal.
Our second SUCCESS Movie Message kind of riffs off of the first one: Total control is a bad goal. That’s because you can’t have total control of anything if you are already accepting that chaos will enter the scene at some point.
What went wrong in Jurassic Park? I’m not talking about the science-y problems—I’m talking about what they were trying to do. They wanted and required absolute control over the whole modern-day dinosaur situation. Total control was their goal, and it was a bad one. When one little thing went awry, the whole enterprise fell apart in chaotic and entertaining fashion.
In your personal development and entrepreneurial journeys, you may wish for total control. You may even picture how much easier everything would be if you had it. But don’t make it your goal. If you do, you’re not likely to find yourself staring into the big, beautiful eye of a tyrannosaurus, but you are likely to find yourself looking at the big, ugly eye of failure.
You will lose control in some way, and if your goal is total control, you will fail. Don’t hamstring your goals before they even begin.
Power needs a higher power.
The iconic Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm says it best when he spouts off with that line about scientists being so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t think about whether they should. What he’s saying is our third SUCCESS Movie Message for Jurassic Park: Power needs a higher power.
More than 30 years out from the release of this movie, I think we can all agree that bringing the dinosaurs back is a bad idea. Why did it seem like such a good idea to the fictional characters of this film? Aside from their apparent belief that billions of dollars of scientific research would be offset by the profits from theme park tickets, the answer is not really clear.
They didn’t know, and then things went bad fast. They just did it because they realized they could.
If your answer to “Why are you doing this?” is “Because I can,” you have a problem. That applies whether you’re writing a book, building a business, recording a podcast—anything. You need your why—your higher power—to guide your power, which in this example is your ability to achieve what you’re setting out to do. Define your why, and your purpose and path become clear and (probably) dinosaur-free.
Ready for next week’s mystery movie?
That’s a wrap for Jurassic Park. You’ve already seen it, but maybe watch it again to see what personal development lessons you take away from it. At the very worst, you’ll come away having had a popcorn-worthy movie experience.
Next week, we’re going to do a mystery movie. This one is really exciting—I think all of you listeners are going to love it. But if not, feel free to let me know, as always. See you next time.
Alex Stevens invented motivational media criticism and reinvents the genre every week on SUCCESS Movie Rewind. Alex is also a lawyer, creative consultant, and artist, sometimes all at once. Alex lives with his family in Dallas, Texas.
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