Finding Your Character in Your Five Favorite Movies: Elizabeth

How do you evaluate the motives of those who would give you their counsel?

A story of a person developing discernment, potential, transformation, keen purpose, and, of course, an existential crisis of character – these are all reasons I love the movie Elizabeth, one of my favorite stories of leadership and leadership development. 

Sickly Queen Mary of England could not bring herself to execute her imprisoned half-sister Elizabeth, ascends to the throne upon Mary’s death due to the queen’s lack of an heir. (Why had she been imprisoned with a death penalty by her sister? Elizabeth was a Protestant; Mary was Catholic.) Thus begins the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who begins her long years on the throne with plenty of decisions to make and plenty of advisors to help – if, in fact, she can trust their advice at all.

I love Elizabeth for great acting, its political intrigue, and as a terrific portraiture with many lessons on leadership. It makes my list of Movies That Teach for those leadership lessons you will find in Cate Blanchett’s characterization of the “Virgin Queen” who ushers in England’s “Golden Age“.

In 1558, England is divided by faith, Catholic vs. Protestant. Elizabeth’s first few years are shaky on religious terms, she is hardly politically astute and she “rules from the heart instead of the mind”.  England is weak and also on shaky ground facing many barely covert enemies.  Elizabeth must strengthen the position of her kingdom and face her own threats, including many who seek to execute her as a “heretic”.  

To ensure her security on the throne, Elizabeth has to establish leadership, which includes, according to some of her many advisors, establishment of a single Protestant Church of England, marriage to a suitable husband and the production of an heir. However, she remains unmarried since her only suitor is not worthy of marrying a queen; thus, she can bear no heir, which would mean the throne could fall back into Catholic hands should she meet with her own tragedy.

Elizabeth, the movie, is a story of the early years of the great queen’s reign when she was learning to be great. She must face threats both foreign, including Pope Pius V, and domestic, especially within her own court. The movie dramatizes her transformation into the most powerful, and sometimes ruthless, woman in the world.

I love a story of potential. I love a story of transformation from a person trying to survive into a leader with a crystal-clear sense of purpose, a deep sense of value and service to a Great Cause.

Notice a pattern developing here with this “crisis of character”, which you might say is a matter of destiny for those of us who seek to live at The Intersection of Purpose and now.  Next up in my “Finding Your Character in Your Five Favorite Movies” series: The Razor’s Edge.

About pdncoach

A Go-Giver business coach working with leaders whose success depends on the performance and productivity of others. I coach individual leaders and their teams... in small to mid-size businesses, ministries and non-profits... to accelerate their results and achieve dreams by getting past the difficult, strategic challenges of their current realities.
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