Leadership Lessons From The Movie Castaway

Miguel Lebrón
4 min readSep 21, 2021

In the castaway movie, we see Chuck Noland, played by Tom Hanks, who works with FedEx. As the holiday season is approaching, he has to go deliver some packages. He gets on a plane but not before exchanging gifts with his significant other, Kelly Frears, played by Helen Hunt. She hands him a pocket watch. She also put a photo in the pocket watch, which he says is his favorite photo. He sets the pocket watch to Memphis time and says that he will know it’s Kelly’s time every time he opens it.

Chuck gets on the plane. He walks towards the cabin. And asks the captain if all of the ruckuses were due to Santa Claus and his reindeers. Still, before any turbulence occurs, he walks towards the restroom, leaving his pocket watch in his seat. While he is in the bathroom, everything goes haywire. And much like he did when waking up from a nap, he reaches for the pocket watch Kelly gave him.

For the benefit of those who have yet to see it, I won’t ruin it, but let me just inform you that the plane goes down. Of course, you would know this because the title of the movie is castaway! But it is before the plane goes down and before he goes for his life jacket he grabs the pocket watch and puts it in his pocket. Now, while the plan is going down in this high intense moment, we see somehow Chuck survives.

The first thing he does or one of the first things he does is write the word help on the sand. However, the shores wash away his message, and so he has to use a different tactic. He grabs wood, drags it towards this particular position, and makes them form letters to write the word help.

One of the things we see is that Tom Hanks’ character doesn’t lose his spirit of exploration. This same spirit takes him to the top of a mountain, where he can see a floating body at a distance. Unfortunately, that individual is not alive, and we see how he buries him and takes his shoes. Interestingly, the shoes don’t fit him, so he cuts off the tip, making them into modern-day slides.

Often we face winds that trying to push us away from where we’d like to be. We are constantly challenged and driven by the waves. However, we should not lose our spirit of exploration or innovation. This is one thing that many individuals lost during the pandemic. The pandemic was like the dark days for any individuals, and they lost their spirit of exploration and invitation.

“The spirit of exploration is what draws us to visit places seldom seen, off the beaten trail-even off the map!” The spirit of exploration. Adventure Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.adventurecanada.com/the-spirit-of-exploration

The spirit of exploration says there’s something more than this, something more than where I am now. A relentless drive compels us to do more, be more, and achieve more when the spirit of exploration is alive and well in us. While we may not know what tomorrow brings, we know that today’s steps can help leave a mark tomorrow. And this may include carving out a road others haven’t seen to leave a legacy others haven’t left.

“An innovative spirit is a mindset that actively seeks change rather than waiting to adapt to change. In other words, it’s a super-positive mindset that embraces critical questioning, creative and continuous improvement.” Tai-Wai, D. A. V. I. D. C. (2018, July 30). Creating an innovative spirit in your team. LinkedIn. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/creating-innovative-spirit-your-team-david-chung-tai-wai

In the movie Castaway, we see that Chuck actually did not die on a deserted island. Instead, we see chuck grow, learn, and continue to dream beyond the shore. The storms of life could be the platform you need to utilize your gift to its full potential. It can also be the opportunity to recognize how blessed you are. Remember, the spirit of innovation says being still doesn’t mean being stagnant.

Every leader should take a moment and reevaluate their current position because it will require you to hold fast to exploration or innovation. We should not grow complacent or reject new ideas. In those conversations, we are welcoming exploration and innovation to occur. When we welcome exploration and innovation, we welcome the possibility of a greater tomorrow if it will happen four years from now.

Originally published at https://www.miguellebron.com on September 21, 2021.



Miguel Lebrón

I partner with individuals who have a goal but need a strategy.