Welcome to the third segment of the Cinderella series as we look at life lessons from the Disney movie, hope you continue to find meaningful inspiration from this analysis.
Just because it's always been done, doesn't mean that's what should be done.
Kit goes on a hunting spree with his contingency when Cinderella facilitates the escape of the very animal they are after. The prince tries to defend this practice (hunting) as an old-time tradition, but Cinderella chooses to differ:
"Just because it's always been done doesn't mean that that's what should be done."
Many lives are often controlled by limiting practices in the name of "that's what it's always been done." Knowing your heritage and history is essential, but if not careful, tradition can serve as a wall that restricts light into your existence because you resist to see things from a different perspective. That statement was enough to encourage the prince to challenge his father's view about his future wife. Culture detected that he should marry a princess from an affiliate kingdom (preferably Zaragoza) in a bid to strengthen relations. In most cultures, that's how people operate, usually for strategic alliances and benefits that come with being close to those in certain positions of power and influence.
It does take courage to go beyond what is normally detected by protocols. For thousands of years, people who helped shape the world for better did so only because they stood up and challenged the status quo. Tribes, individuals, countries, organisations, institutions, families, religions and many more often follow 'the way it's always been done' because it's deemed safer. Change is nothing but stressful and far too risky to adopt for many people. These attitudes often stem from fear of the unknown.
One of my most favourite topics in Business is Global and Business Strategy, especially Change Management. Learnt that introducing something new in business settings is often fraught with resistance as stakeholders fight to protect their interests, although proposed changes would benefit the whole organisation as a whole. Such battlegrounds often call for change agents employed to introduce and manage the change process. Change can be transformational, either through shock tactics (appropriate for highly resistant stakeholders) or incremental, for those willing to change even though they might have concerns.
What I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter who you are; every single human being will struggle with the concept of change at some point in their life. Influenced by Cinderella, coupled with the fact that he is a confident man who knows what he wants, the prince asks the king to invite every unmarried damsel to the ball which should have been reserved for royalty. His aim? To give Cinderella a chance to appear again in his life before committing to his father's wishes. "If I must marry, could I just not marry a good, honest country girl?" I know for a fact that lots of people have rejected the loves of their lives thanks to the influence of close people.
The prince has seen it all but our Cinderella, draped in a maid's outfit, positioned in a country location, leaves a lasting impression. It was her character and intelligence that made the prince consider her as someone worthy. It reminds me of Boaz in the Bible. When he cast his eyes across the fields, he didn't see a poor widow from Moab slaving away as she gleaned what was left of the harvest. "Who is she?" he enquired. Remember that his chosen tribe had been discouraged from mingling with Moabites. Still, it was God's perfect timing for Ruth to show up, bearing all the hallmarks of a misfit. Boaz took notice. He could have easily been discouraged by other people's 'reasonable explanations' as they warned him to stay clear, but he married Ruth regardless. For those who know the complete story, King David would come from the same lineage, and as imperfect as he was, he'd pave the way for God's perfect promise, Jesus. And yet, we continue to see countless numbers of people vying to build kingdoms according to their own understanding, often ignoring the power of love.
That is the reason why I will always tell my daughter that it doesn't matter where you come from; it matters who you are. It's also the very reason why I will encourage my son to marry for love, because the strength of his kingdom will be significantly influenced by who and what truly captures his heart, a concept that knows no race, skin colour, country of origin, creed, or anything that his predecessors have followed in the past. I hope we'll all have the courage to pursue the right choices, even if it's not in line with how things have always been done, or other people's opinions.
The king thought that strategic connections mattered most to strengthen his kingdom. However, the prince understood that real love was a binding force capable of securing territories. I believe that if most leaders understood love (because they've been brave enough to pursue it), then they'd generally make decisions which transform ordinary people's lives for better. Most people are leading from a place of pain, hence the over-reliance on manipulative tactics to build relations which instead fortifies walls of resentment, not secure villages or communities, organisations, families or even countries. Where there's no harmony, you find weaknesses capable of bringing great nations down.
In response to the king's command to marry princess Chelina of Zaragoza, Kit goes on to say some of the most compelling words in the movie. He doesn't allow his father to guilt trip or manipulate him. I believe the prince's response can stir something within each and every person who has been operating according to other people's instructions and expectations.
I love and respect you, but I will not. I believe that we need not look outside our boarders for strength or guidance, what we need is right before us. And we need only to have courage and be kind, that's it!
We see Cinderella's words being echoed in the highest chambers. It shows that every good act, deed or word can grow if planted in the right environment. Those few little words had the power to challenge even the most staunch believer in kingdom safety over love, the king himself. He eventually sees his son's point, and encourages him find the girl (Cinderella) and marry her.
The bigger the promise, the more challenges you have to overcome!
When the Royal Crier announces that any unmarried woman is invited to the ball, thanks to Kit paving the way for Cinderella or anybody else, it is her who rushes home share the exciting news. Note how her step-mother immediately disqualifies her, without realising that the only reason they will be going to the palace is because of Cinderella. "You're too ambitious for your good," her step-mother says.
Let's drift away from Cinderella a little bit and touch on workplace politics. How many have rushed to their bosses with ideas capable of transforming organisations, only to see others take over and see themselves being sidelined? I remember once calling my sister, wallowing about how I'd seen someone blatantly steal my idea, and run away with it. What she said made me relax.
"Remember Mary Magdalene?" she said. She was very close to Jesus and followed him everywhere. Although his disciples walked the walk with him, they sometimes showed doubt and fear during Jesus's trials. They forgot about the promise that Jesus would rise from the dead. Mary was the first to notice that the body of Jesus had disappeared from the tomb and rushed to tell others. It is written that they ran towards the site. The other disciple was so fast he outran Peter! When they found nothing, they turned back. You too will encounter people who will get a snippet of what you're called to do, and run with your ideas and implement things ahead of you. However, Jesus would appear to Mary, not the ones who ran faster than her."
I hope you too can find wisdom from my sister's words. The journey to your destiny will become more challenging as you make progress. We see Cinderella's step-mother, and step-sisters escalate the abuse in the run-up to the ball. She made sure to lock her out of sight when the hunt for the girl with the missing slipper ensued.
Rise to the occasion, even if your enemies don't like it.
As you work towards your goals, you will likely encounter gate-keepers near where you're destined to be. Gate-keepers are everywhere, from receptionists to boardroom executives to family members and friends. You're likely to come across difficult people when you're incredibly weary because you've been fighting for so long. Still, do not be discouraged. Remember who you are, and what it's taken to get to where you are. You're still standing, sometimes, that's all that matters.
Cinderella's step-mother does everything she can to keep Cinderella way from the palace. Her step-mother sees Cinderella as a threat (although she never vocalises it) and tries everything in her power to demean her. Be very careful of people who can be so very critical of you. It's sometimes because you remind them of what they lack, but they will still find a way to make you feel incomplete.
After accusing her of stealing the very material that they'd thrown away, Cinderella's step-mother declares. "You shall not go to the ball!" It's a powerful ultimatum, for it goes to show that given a chance, enemies will determine how far you can go in life. Next time you meet so much resistance against God's will, remember that no-one has no authority over your life, except Him above. He prepares a table before your enemies. If he's called you then, "you shall go to the ball," against all odds! Just because someone has spoken against your destiny doesn't mean that it has to happen, which takes us to our next lesson.
Everyone has a breaking point, no matter how strong they are.
We're often encouraged to be strong and courageous as we pursue our dreams. No matter how bold and kind you are, you will be tested to the limit at some point. I, too, have gone through the most challenging situations where things only got worse, despite best efforts. What do you do when you get to that point? Jesus cried to His Father above, asking him to take the pain away before he was nailed to the cross. However, God did not grant him his wish because he had a mission to complete.
I've learnt that sometimes God allows us to go through certain challenges and tests, for his glory. Moreover, when you come out of it, you will know that if it weren't Him, you wouldn't have made it. Cinderella reaches a breaking point when her step-mother rips up her mother's dress, telling her that she doesn't want to ruin her daughters' prospects, "if they are seen with a rugged servant girl, and that's what you are!" It breaks Cinderella's heart to recognise that her every effort to attend the ball has been thwarted.
We see Cinderella break down, wailing by the well. I don't think she's just crying about the fact that she's been told that she can't go to the ball. The poor girl has tried everything she can to be kind and courageous, yet, it's never enough. "I'm sorry, mum; I said I have courage, but I don't, not anymore." She's hit her lowest ebb. I also believe she had to reach that point before intervention could take place.
Kindness transforms everything for better.
What Cinderella doesn't know is that the fairy godmother is waiting by the well. Frail, bad teeth, unkempt – the older woman asks for a piece of bread and milk. Most people would ignore such a request because they're dealing with personal issues, why should they help another? However, Cinderella immediately stops grieving and gets up to find something for the old lady to eat. A few days ago, I stumbled upon teachings about how God often wants us to release what we have so he can bless us with more. The widow who fed Elijah at Zarepeth was on the brink of starvation, together with her son, but still fed the prophet when he asked for bread. As a result, she was blessed with plenty to eat for days afterwards.
Cinderella wipes away her tears and lets her kindness overflow. She says she's crying about nothing when asked why she had tears in her eyes. Imagine if Cinderella had ignored this poor woman. The fairy godmother doesn't proclaim that she has secret powers capable of taking Cinderella to the ball. She appears as nothing but a weak person with nothing to give. Most people often fail to unlock hidden blessings because of selfishness. It doesn't matter how little you have, assisting another soul out of the goodness of your heart will almost always be rewarded.
Cinderella's kind acts lead to the creation of the most magical gown ever, and the famous glass slippers. Fairy godmother turns what's readily available to facilitate Cinderella's journey to the palace. Mother's old dress, which has been mocked and ripped apart, is transformed into a beautiful gown. A soft pumpkin is turned into a magnificent carriage, and seemingly insignificant animals that Cinderella used to look after became part of the concierge team.
I hope today's analysis will encourage you to keep hope alive and continue to do the right things, even when you face extreme difficulty. Have courage and be kind, for it will unlock potential blessings.
Hope to see you soon for Part 4 (and final) article on Cinderella's life lessons. We will learn about what it means to finally come face to face with what you've always dreamt of. Cinderella is gripped with fear upon realising that she has made it to the ball. How does she take tentative steps into the palace? What does it take to embrace your blessings? I'll give you a clue - it still takes immense courage to embrace what you've always desired.
Thanks for reading!
From books we love to the box office, there is always an intriguing tale that captures hearts and minds.