Can I move? I’m better when I move.

How the Sundance Kid taught me the importance of individuality

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As with a lot of people, I like to switch to Netflix, sit back, relax and lose myself in a good film – it provides, for the most part, escapism for a few hours. One of my all-time favourites is the classic version of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ from 1969. There are many scenes worth mentioning – one in particular where Butch and Sundance are being ‘interviewed’ for work as payroll guards for a Bolivian mining company.

The mine boss asks Sundance if he can shoot and throws a small piece of wood across the dirt road saying “Hit that!” Sundance twirls his gun, looks to the ground, and slickly slides the gun into his holster – poised, and about to shoot. A little annoyed, the mine boss interrupts with the words: “No! No! No! Son, son, ah just wanna know if you can shoot!?” He proceeds to take the gun from Sundance’s holster and hands it to him.

Sundance takes the gun, aims awkwardly, fires, and misses the target – Butch walks over seemingly in a state of shock, and the mine boss spits his tobacco, utters something, and begins to walk away in disappointment.

Sundance utters the words “Can I move?” to which the mine boss replies “Move? What the hell do you mean ‘move’!? Sundance responds by coiling like a rattle-snake, whipping out the gun from the holster, crouching like a cobra ready to strike, and fires – all in a millisecond. He hits the target twice to the incredulous expression on the face of the mine boss and then he utters the immortal words:

“I’m better when I move!”

All during my working life it still amazes, and greatly disappoints me, the number of times I have witnessed bosses who, for one reason or another, stifle the creativity of people by imposing their own way of doing things without recognition, regard, or interest in the natural talent of the person in front of them.

If you acknowledge that people are different from you, find out what makes them creative, what inspires them at work, what makes them tick, and give them the space to thrive, be prepared to be amazed and be prepared to see people grow. Remember, your way is not always the best way.

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Antony Profili is our Chartered Occupational Psychologist, culture change and leadership development specialist. With over 20 years’ experience in organisational development, primarily working in technically orientated sectors, he has a reputation for helping leaders think and behave differently. Antony has a passion for getting under the skin of organisations and their leaders to create performance orientated solutions that help leaders change the culture of their business and achieve their goals and aspirations.