Four Leadership Lessons on Love from Romeo and Juliet

People learn best through stories -- not from Power Points, or lists of "do's" and "don'ts." 

And the best stories ever told come from William Shakespeare, whose been at the top of the charts -- the veritable Oscar winner -- for four-plus centuries.  As they might say in Hollywood film circles, Shakespeare has legs. 

Hence on Valentine's Day 2017, when all eyes turn to the heart, let's look at the greatest racy romance ever written, Romeo and Juliet, to glean lessons from this heart-breaker.  

Here are my top four.

1.  Girls Rule.  Audiences consider the two stars of the show alike -- young, immature, swept away, troubled by overbearing (and -controlling) parents, ending tragically. 

Don't. 

While they share all this, equating them shortchanges Juliet.  Though shy of 14, she's more mature, the deeper thinker, better planner, and more intelligent, with a higher EQ (emotional intelligence) than Romeo. 

It's Juliet who fears their love is running way too fast.  It's Juliet who proposes marriage.  It's Juliet who maneuvers the escape from marrying her parents' pick (Paris).  It's Juliet who concocts a plan and weighs alternative scenarios, both quite beyond Romeo's ability. 

Finally, it's not Juliet but the leading men, Romeo and Friar Laurence, who mess everything up. 

2.  Cool down. In life, many situations arouse emotions -- office rivalries, negotiations, tuffs with the boss, slights from colleagues, insubordination from employees, extravagant demands from customers.  And some emotions are positive -- excitement about a great, new product or new challenge, a big event approaching, etc.  Yet whether negative karma or a positive charge, get a balance before taking a decision.  As Juliet forewarned,  “Violent delights have violent ends."

Rather, proceed, as Friar Laurence tells Romeo, “wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.” 

3. Delve Behind Appearances.  On stage or screen, the lovers are real lookers.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes -- who play "the star-crossed lovers" in the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet -- are eye candy.  The previous 1968 version by Zeffirelli, which won an Academy Award, had even more gorgeous kids.  Surely, Shakespeare expected as much. 

Nonetheless, he warns not to expect goodness from beauty.  Perceptions can deceive, as Juliet acknowledges “O serpent heart hid with a flowering face! Did ever a dragon keep so fair a cave?"  

And calling something beautiful does not inherently make it beautiful. Again, it's Juliet who comes up with the sensible thought: “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” 

4.  Love Overwhelms and Conquers.  Romeo and Juliet do die tragically at the end.  And their story is among the saddest ever told. "For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” 

Nonetheless, their parents learn from them to bury their hatred and end the age-old family feuds.  And we learn the big lesson at this Valentine's week, perhaps the big lesson of life: That love does conquer. That love gives meaning to life.  That love makes life beautiful.

Last words go to, naturally, Juliet: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep.  The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”