Iron lady is a great film about the life of Margaret Thatcher – the longest serving British Prime Minister. I admit, I didn’t know much about the UK iron lady (a.k.a. Margaret Thatcher) before I watched the film. But wow, I’m impressed with her personality.
No doubt, there are a lot of things that we can learn from her. For a start, I think all of us can learn five good lessons from her rise to (and fall from) the summit of UK government.
1. Get a meaningful job
“Do the job that you love” mantra is a time-and-tested way to be successful. In the movie, Thatcher told her soon-to-be husband that she did not want to waste her time washing dishes. And she insisted that “one’s life must matter”.
The lesson here is not so much about washing dishes sucks, but rather you should define what kind of job that excites you and go for it. (I’m sure there are people in this world who are passionate about washing dishes. But to Thatcher, washing dishes is a meaningless activity.)
2. Surround yourself with people who believe in you
No one is perfect and this is a fact of life. But why should you make your life harder, by hanging out with people who think that you have 1,001 things to improve? Stay away from these people because they will suck your energy and hurt your self worth. Instead connect with people who believe in you.
Thatcher surrounded herself with people who believe in her potential like Airey Neave. They encouraged her to lead the conservative party and offered help/advices on the few things that Thatcher has to improve, to fulfill her potential.
3. Use your own criteria to decide what to change about yourself
Who has the right to tell you on what to change about yourself? Nobody but yourself and someone whom you have deep respect. The truth is, we know ourselves better than anyone else. And thus, we should be the worst critics of ourselves – not someone else.
In the movie, Thatcher insisted that she wouldn’t be persuaded, not to wear her pearl necklace. And she brushed off the doctor who seemed to know what her feelings were. She believed thoughts and ideas were more important than feelings.
Watch your thoughts for they’d become words. Watch your words for they’d become habits. Watch your habits, for they’d become your character. And watch your character, it would become your destiny.
- Margaret Thatcher
4. To change things, lead the change initiative
In the movie, Airey Neave told Thatcher to lead the party if she want to change it. I totally agree with Neave on this, i.e. to change things, you need to lead the change initiative! (apparently, this view is not uncommon). Napoleon Bonaparte seems to share this view too.
I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Who else can do a better job in communicating change and determining how to get there, than the person who fervently believe that change must be done? It makes perfect sense to be the leader of the change initiative when you are the most passionate advocate of change.
5. Be gentle when giving criticism
In the movie, Thatcher was warned, “…not to test one’s colleagues loyalty too far”. Unfortunately, she didn’t listen.
In her last days in office, Thatcher alienated many of her colleagues by easily dismissing their views and acting like a dictator. She brutally criticised Geoffrey Howe in front of other cabinet members – prompting his resignation from the cabinet and eventually this leads to her own downfall.
Have you watched the movie: The Iron Lady? What life lesson did you learn?