The EQ of Groundhog Day

“Okay campers, rise, and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cold out there…”

When what you’re experiencing feels like an endless, tortuous loop, it’s time to change. Or is it? It’s very tempting to fall back on the adage: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” right? Especially when you’re the one who has to do any ‘fixing.’ Well the central question boils down to: is it working or broke? Is your leadership training in a maintenance cycle, like lawn mowing, and dish washing. Mow the lawn every week starting in Spring, and wash the dishes every evening. That works for some home maintenance, but does regular maintenance work for leadership and teaming? Worse yet, is your leadership program stuck in a Groundhog Day loop?

The classic rom-com, Groundhog Day turns 29 this year. If you’ve only seen it once, or didn’t find it very ‘rom’ or ‘com,’ you may have missed the subtler points of the work. Let me explain.

Spoilers ahead

Bill Murray’s character (Phil Connors) is presented with a fantastical dilemma, an endlessly repeating day. Waking up over and over again to the Sonny & Cher standard, I Got You Babe, Phil is stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He’s there reporting for his Pittsburgh TV news station on a Groundhog Day festival he deems kitschy, and beneath what he believes to be considerable talent, by Pittsburgh weather reporter standards. From that viewpoint Phil finds every aspect of the assignment unpleasant: food, lodging, colleagues, community and weather. Everything. He’s in his own personal hell, and doesn’t mind sharing his pain.

Those of us who teach, train and coach often refer to our discipline as Learning and Development (L&D for short). Emphasis on “And Development.” Read on to learn why. In L&D we see many learners stuck in their own hellish loop, or at least stuck in a belief system that feels that way for them.

In L&D terms, Phil Connors is actually being presented with a powerful action learning opportunity. After some unknown number of time loops in the movie, repeating what he considers the same hellish day, the despondent (even suicidal) Phil Connors does what L&D pros live to see in a learner. Phil changes his mind. That pivotal moment when a learner expands their perspective, Phil develops a new mindset, and finds the brighter, redeeming side of his redundant situation. Initially he turns the time loop into a tool for manipulating women, as part of a seduction plot, symptomatic of his loneliness. Eventually he finds that embracing his situation frees him, and delivers what he lacked all along.

For those of us who work in L&D, in almost every way, Groundhog Day is full of lessons. Chiefly the film is a lesson in Emotional Intelligence. Phil is adapting a growth mindset, and embracing EQ competencies like Patience, Optimism, and Empathy to name just a few. All wrapped in a beautifully, and comically illustrated character arc.

At Matrix Insights we are devotees of narrative fiction, mostly because we know that the human brain is wired for narrative. So great narrative is always an exercise in EQ hacking. By ‘hack’ we mean simply this, a well crafted book or a movie is a force multiplying tool to teach, train and understand one another. If your programs have an element of Groundhog Day to them–same thing stuck on repeat– get out of the old mindset, and into the new. Change your mind.

If you’re ready to take a taste of our approach to developing EQ, here is a complimentary (no obligation) key to experience the EQ of Groundhog Day, and start today, not tomorrow because who knows if there will be a tomorrow. Click here to start building your own profile.

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If you envision a scalable, modern leadership program that innovates, engages and opens new perspectives for all your employees, we’ve got answers.

Team work is teachable. Leadership is learnable. Empathy is understandable.

“There is no way that this winter is ever going to end as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don’t see any other way out. He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.”

– Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

Pair this with the Emotional Competencies:

  • Active Empathy
  • Patience , and
  • Understanding Others

    And if you prefer, sing along a while with Sonny & Cher:

    ” Then put your little hand in mine

    There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

    Babe. I got you babe. “

    -I Got You Babe, Sonny & Cher (1965)

    Watch the Video:

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