I finally recently saw the blockbuster movie Coco.
Spoiler alert…I give away some things about the movie in this post, so stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t like spoilers.
The movie provides a good example of another overlooked dimension of success: the less savory things people sometimes do to achieve success.
In Coco, a famous singer Ernesto de la Cruz had a famous saying, “Seize the moment.”
At the beginning of the movie, we think it’s an inspirational reminder to not be afraid to take a chance on success when you have it, in an Eminem Lose Yourself sort of way.
Later in the movie, we come to learn he also means to do unsavory things, if needed, for your success. It turns out de la Cruz murdered his best friend and became famous using the songs he stole from him.
The movie The Founder is about how Ray Kroc built the McDonald’s hamburger chain and slowly stole the famous restaurant’s concept from the McDonald brothers for a pittance.
The McDonald brothers built a successful and innovative single location restaurant in California. Their attempts at expanding their concept had failed. They were better at running a single location than building a muli-unit franchise.
Enter Ray Kroc who discovered successful ways to expand. Some of the changes Kroc made to the concept to make it scalable didn’t sit well with brothers.
So, Kroc found a clever way around their original agreement that allowed him make the changes without the brothers’ approval and cut them out.
In a defining moment in the movie, one of the brothers asks Kroc how he can be such a snake.
Kroc says that what makes him different from the McDonald’s brothers is that if they saw a rival drowning, they’d help him out because they’re good guys.
If Kroc saw a rival drowning, he’d put a garden hose in his mouth because he wants to win that bad.
Similar to Coco’s Ernesto de la Cruz, Kroc provides a real world example of someone willing to “seize the moment.”
Not all success stories are built on such bad behavior, but I think it might be helpful in society to be more clear-eyed about some of those unpleasant choices made to get ahead.
That includes success in business, entertainment, sports and politics.
When we’re not clear-eyed, it makes it easier for tragedies like Lance Armstrong and USA Gymnastics to persist for too long.