We all know that Roald Dahl's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is a morality tale, albeit a sinister one. As children, we have been probably warned how not to behave like the 4 kids - Augustus Gloop (Gluttony), Violet Beauregarde (Rudeness), Veruca Salt (Selfishness) and Mike Teevee (Vainglory) , who all didn't make it through the end of the factory visit.
In light of the recent news that Roald Dahl's children's books are being rewritten, I certainly agree that there are certainly some aspects of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that may be inappropriate and insensitive in our modern world. As a disclaimer, I would like to clarify that while the story contains some elements that may be considered inappropriate, the focus of this discussion will be on specific themes or lessons that are relevant to transformational leadership and growth mindset concepts.
In April's blog posts, I would like to discuss the several executive coaching lessons that can be drawn from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In this blog post, we look at how Willy's Wonka cognitive dissonance and personal dissatisfaction might have resulted in the deterioration in the chocolate's quality near the end of the story.
It's possible that Willy Wonka's unhappiness was reflected in his products because his personal dissatisfaction and cognitive dissonance may have seeped into his work. Willy Wonka's focus on creating innovative and exciting confections may have been driven more by his personal ambition and desire for recognition from his estranged father, rather than a genuine passion for creating delicious and high-quality treats. How often do we fall into that situation where we bull-dozed towards our goals even when we know that those goals aren't aligned with our true intentions and upheld values!
Charlie on the other hand refused Willy Wonka's offer to join him in the chocolate factory because it would require leaving his family. That was a powerful example of the importance of aligning our goals with our values. We should set ambitious career goals or pursue opportunities, but pursuing goals against our beliefs, values, and unresolved dissonance is akin to going on an ambitious road trip around the world with an half empty tank: we will either suffer a burn out or the unhappiness starts to seep into the quality of our work and the relationships with our associates and colleagues.
The one coaching lesson that can be drawn from Charlie's decision and Willy Wonka's unhappiness is the importance of reflecting on our values and priorities and ensuring that our goals and actions are aligned with them. To start knowing what are your values, ask yourself "What matters most to me than money?"