Bruce: “God is a mean kid with a magnifying glass. Smite me, Oh Mighty Smiter”
That’s a strong accusation but Bruce was furious with God because he didn’t become successful in life. He had hit his midlife crisis in the worst way possible.
Bruce Nolan is a fictional character in the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’. He is led to a breaking point when he experiences frustration due to career dissatisfaction, relationship struggles, a lack of control, unfulfilled ambitions, and personal discontent.
Bruce works as a television reporter, but he feels unfulfilled in his job. He believes he is capable of covering more important news stories instead of being assigned to human-interest pieces and lighter news segments. He desires recognition and a chance to make a meaningful impact with his reporting. But all he got to do was talk about finding that missing dog or a restaurant that bakes sweet treats, and other strange stories.
His relationship with his girlfriend, Grace, is strained too. And it stems from his inability to fully commit to their relationship. He prioritizes his career ambitions over building a solid foundation with Grace, leading to constant conflicts and a lack of emotional connection.
These frustrations lead him to a breaking point, where he confronts and blames God for his misfortunes. To his surprise, he is granted divine powers to help him turn his life around.
As the movie progresses, Bruce soon realizes the consequences of his actions and the importance of using his powers responsibly.
Bruce: “There were so many (prayers to grant). I just gave them all what they want.”
God: “Yeah. But since when does anyone have a clue about what they want?”
Through his journey, Bruce learns valuable life lessons about love, humility, and the true meaning of happiness. In the end, he relinquishes his powers, embraces a more selfless outlook, and finds contentment in the ordinary moments of life.
God: “Parting your soup is not a miracle, Bruce. It’s a magic trick. A single mom who’s working two jobs and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice, that’s a miracle. A teenager who says “no” to drugs and “yes” to an education, that’s a miracle. People want me to do everything for them. But what they don’t realize is THEY have the power. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.”
This movie serves as a reminder that leadership is not solely about personal achievements or control but about using our influence to make a positive difference in the lives of others. By embracing humility, integrity, empathy, and gratitude, leaders can create a more inclusive, compassionate, and supportive environment for their teams.
Bruce blamed God for his problems. But in reality, the problems were rooted in the desires, expectations, and assumptions he had about life. He needed to disengage with his sensory delights before he could fully understand what was most important.
A leader I once knew found himself in a similar situation where he lost his faith and stopped visiting his holy place of worship. When the pandemic hit without notice, he had lost his job much like most people in that year.
Out of the eagerness to survive monetarily, he had prayed to God to ensure that he get a new job after he serves his 3-month notice period at the company he was about to leave. Unfortunately, he was not able to secure a job, which led him to become furious with God. He believed he had hired God to do a certain job but the results were not delivered.
Bruce: “What if I need you? What if I have questions?”
God: “That’s your problem, Bruce. That’s everybody’s problem. You keep looking up.”
You don’t need to look anywhere else when the answers are with you or will eventually come to you. In learning how to attain your ground of neutrality and fully understand who you are as a person and a leader, you gain better clarity.
This means that if you have a problem, you may very well be ‘the problem’. Rather solve the problem by engaging to disengage, and see what comes of it.
It’s as the famous poet Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so, hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!