If you made me pick a fictional film heroine that wasn’t Elle Woods, it would be a tie between Miranda Priestly and Andy Sachs. I’ve written before about The Devil Wears Prada and my love for Andy. Lately, I’ve been thinking all about the amazing ways the movie (and the book it’s based on) have influenced my work life. Here are my absolute favourite, mostly universal life tips from the halls of Runway.
1. Be Adaptive and Be Prepared
There is one fantastic, dramatic, and slightly hilarious scene near the beginning of the movie. While short, it packs a powerful lesson. Emily and Nigel learn that Miranda is arriving to the office way earlier than expected, so everyone is scrambling to get ready. We see staffers tossing aside lunches, changing shoes, and reapplying lip gloss using their web cam. (I do this MULTIPLE times a day with my computer or cell phone. I never have a mirror on hand.) On the surface, this tells us that Miranda expects certain behaviour from her staff. Going a bit deeper, though, you can find much more. That woman changing her shoes? She came prepared, knowing that her commute wasn’t exactly Louboutin friendly. Making a practical choice but preparing for all outcomes is a valuable skill for anyone, from the boardroom to the nursery to the classroom. Also worth noting is the lovely lady eating until Miranda arrives. While I never encourage desk lunches, sometimes it happens. We’re trapped by a deadline/boss/tiny child/conference call/whatever else and suddenly we haven’t eaten in 6 hours. Coming prepared with healthy snacks or lunch options can keep us from being incredible hangry or splurging at the vending machine on something questionable.
2. It sucks. Do it anyway and do it well.
Those who argue that Andy is totally unlikeable usually point to the moment when Andy whines to Nigel that no matter how hard she tries, Miranda just isn’t happy. Nigel, of course, points out that she’s not really trying. Confession? I’ve been there. A lot. Not every job is your dream job. Your work may not be fulfilling you creatively, intellectually, or socially. The path to our dream jobs is very rarely as simple or as straight as stories make it seem. Too often, we find ourselves in a job that is necessary for the time but definitely nothing like we want to be doing. We, like Andy, consider our mere presence at the office a blessing to everyone. And we are miserable for it. When I’ve caught myself wallowing in that mix of pity and pride, I think of Andy and how important it is to try our very best at anything we do, regardless of what it is. Andy starts excelling in her career the moment she starts actually trying. Simple in concept, much harder in execution.
3. Surround Yourself with the Right People
ANDY HAD THE WORST FRIENDS. I could write an entire thesis on this, but I’ll spare you. Mostly because we all know it. Life is hard. The only way you’re going to get through it is by surrounding yourself with the right people. How do you know they are the right people? They call you out when you’re doing something self-destructive and support you beyond belief when you’re doing what you think is best. Andy knew that her job at Runway could open tons of doors on the road to her dream job. Real, non-garbage friends would have understood that and supported her. My friends (you lovelies included) are the most supportive people. If I thought that making artisanal ice cubes would get me a step closer to my dream job, you’d better believe they’d all be there, no matter how weird it seems.
What fictional characters have taught you valuable life lessons?