What I saw in “Hidden Figures”

uncovering the hidden messages in "Hidden Figures"

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The women of Hidden Figures

One of the best movies I saw in 2017 was “Hidden Figures”. I will not comment on the cinematic brilliance of the movie as that’s beyond by skill set. But what I would like to share are the 3 key messages that were revealed to me:
Be ready for the change

One of the major challenge that we face today is the constant refresh of technologies and skills. Disruption is always around the corner. The skills we possess are always under a constant threat to become obsolete. We have a challenge to keep up with new skills at all times.

No matter which technology or industry we belong to, It is a necessity for us to be aware of the ever evolving, emerging, disruptive technologies and keep pace by constant re-skilling ourselves and staying relevant for the business we are in.

We cannot be complacent. We need to be on the lookout at all times and “be proactive” to learn new skills that would keep us essential and valuable in the changing landscape. We don’t want to wake up one day to find out our skills are no more desired and we are not ready for the change that just happened.

Tech around us is changing every moment with AI, Big Data, IoT, Mobile, Block Chain, AR, VR to name a few. There is as much opportunity to stay essential as there is risk to become redundant. We just need to be aware and take benefit of the opportunity that lies ahead and participate in this transformation of humanity.

Dorothy Vaughan in Hidden Figures was a great example who demonstrated how to stay ahead of the curve and created a value for herself and her team to “be ready for the change”. As the leader of the pack, she realized very quickly that change was coming; human computers were going to be replaced by IBM computers. She was proactive in not just learning it herself but also re-skilling her entire team to be ready for the change and remain valuable for the program and NASA. There cannot be a better example of “being ready for the change”.

Watch this Clip : Dorothy Vaughan learns and teaches IBM programming

Special projects need special effort

Not all projects are the same. Some projects are business as usual. Some projects are life changing. We should be able to recognize such projects when they come knocking. When any of us get asked about the projects that we have worked on, the ones we remember are the ones where we would have solved the most complex problems or may have put in special effort to get a special or outstanding result for ourselves or our clients.

Such assignments always challenge us to think outside of the box and go beyond our boundaries to accomplish what may look impossible.

Katherine Johnson proved when she solved one of NASAs biggest problem using the Euler’s method when it was not very obvious that an old mathematical method will solve a problem of the future of space. She spent days and nights and did not give up until the solution was found. And this resulted in NASA being able to launch the space shuttle. Her passion and effort to resolve the problem out of the world effort, literally.

Watch this clip : Euler’s Method by Katherine Johnson

Not be a victim of circumstances

It is never perfect. There are always circumstances – personal, social, economical etc etc. It is easy be a victim of our circumstances and give up on our ambition. But it takes a lot of hard work, effort, guts and passion to not be a victim and find a way out to achieve our goals. The people who go all the way to achieve their ambition by finding a way around the circumstances become leaders. They become role models. They pave the way for others. More often than not “they become the first”.

Mary Jackson in this movie proved exactly the same by finding a way to get a judgement in her favor . To do so, she did all the research she had to do for the very important trial day and she explained the “importance of being the first” to the judge. In the process, she became the first african american female student in what was historically an all white school. This allowed her to become the NASAs first female engineer. She refused to become a victim of the circumstances at that time.

Watch this clip: Mary Jackson teaches the importance of being first

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