Photo credit (above): Jyoshiki | Flickr
Leading from the heart
By TARA THIAGARAJAN
My love for video games blossomed when I was at the impressionable age of 12. To me, video games provide something more than just the thrill of leveling up after winning each “boss fight”.
They also introduce colourful, complex, and lovable characters that stay with you long after you complete the game.
One such video game that first set the bar for me was Kingdom Hearts, which tells the story of a young boy named Sora, who has the weight of the world thrown on his shoulders when a powerful, celestial weapon known as the “KeyBlade” chooses him as its wielder.
With two classic Disney characters, Donald Duck and Goofy as his companions, Kingdom Hearts follows Sora’s journey to different worlds in search of his lost friends, Riku and Kairi, while also aiming to prevent infinite darkness from being unleashed by the main antagonist, Ansem.
This unexpected collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Games produced one of my all-time favourite video games that also taught me a lot about friendship, love, and of course, leadership.
The following are the four main lessons that really stuck with me throughout the years.
1. We have to fulfill our responsibilities even when we don’t choose them
At the start of the game, Sora, an average, laid-back teenager, was suddenly given one of the biggest responsibilities imaginable, which was something he saw as a burden he could not carry.
Eventually, Sora accepted that he could not get rid of the KeyBlade that chose him. He understood that although he did not feel capable, the universe needed him to stop Ansem from spreading eternal darkness throughout the universe.
Sometimes, the role of “leader” is thrust upon us when we least expect it and we have no choice but to assimilate ourselves into that role.
We are often given responsibilities we have to fulfill, which may not directly benefit ourselves, but serve a higher purpose that can benefit society as a whole.
2. We get by with a little help from our friends
Although Sora was the only one wielding the KeyBlade, his growth as a warrior and as a person throughout his journey would not have been possible without his companions providing support along the way.
There are times we think that we’re all alone on our own journeys, which are filled with problems we should solve by ourselves.
Sometimes, we forget that there are people around us who care and are willing to help.
If we observe carefully, we all have at least one person in our lives who would be by our side through thick and thin.
Leaders should realise and acknowledge that they can’t do everything by themselves.
Yes, they get to call the shots and make big decisions for their team, but at the end of the day, leaders guide a team of people who help each other out. This resonates with the famous saying, “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’”.
3. We are all easily corruptible, but we have the power to find the right path again
“The heart may be weak and sometimes it may even give in. But I’ve learned that deep down, there’s a light that never goes out!” – Sora
At the climax of the game, Sora reunited with Riku after being separated back in their home world.
However, Sora soon discovered that Riku was working with a group of villains as a result of Maleficent stirring feelings of distrust and anger within Riku, corrupting him in the process.
His corrupted heart made him vulnerable, allowing Ansem to possess him as part of his plan to unlock the ultimate source of darkness to be unleashed unto the universe.
Although Riku’s heart was corrupted, Sora knew that his friend could still be saved, as he believed that everyone has light in their hearts that can lead them to the right path.
Sora’s beliefs that we all deserve second chances in life really resonate with the fact that many people in the past have turned their lives around to become better individuals who give back to the community.
People like the famous Frank William Abagnale, who was a conman in his teens, is now working as a fraud consultant, battling corruption in the United States.
4. Determination in pursuit of a goal
In the conclusion of the game, Sora briefly reunites with Kairi before being split up once again.
Although his goal of reuniting with his friends was not accomplished, he promised Kairi that he would not give up on finding her and Riku again, no matter how long it would take.
True leaders are driven to achieve their goals although tough challenges may come their way. They give their all into whatever they do, especially if it’s for something they are truly passionate about.
Kingdom Hearts taught me about the many trials and tribulations we are faced with when taking on the seemingly daunting task of being a leader.
Although it seems undoubtedly hard to be a leader, especially for a young person, this game showed me that leaders could come in any shape, size, and even age. As a young person myself, I believe we should not underestimate our strengths that give us the potential to become leaders.
Every great leader was once young, naïve, and scared at some point in his or her life, just like Sora was at the beginning of the game.
Tara is your average Psychology student who loves reading, video games, her cat named Leo, and Zayn Malik. She believes that humans tend to overcomplicate things and that they should just chill instead. Share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment in the box provided. For other Movie Wisdom articles, click here.
First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 4 July 2015