7 Professional Development Lessons from Twilight

Last updated: Aug 4, 2020

With the Aug. 4 release of Midnight Sun — Stephenie Meyer’s latest installment in the Twilight series — we’re ready to revisit the enchanted world of Bella and Edward. Vampires, werewolves, and rain-soaked redwoods are the perfect escape from daily life during COVID-19. But this fantasy series also offers real-world lessons for career development. Go ahead and enjoy the supernatural world of Forks, Washington, then come back here for these 7 professional development lessons from Twilight. 

 

Wait, What’s Twilight?

In case you’ve spent the last 15 years in a vampire’s coffin, here’s what you’ve missed:

 

Twilight is a young adult series by Stephenie Meyer, a stay-at-home mom who scribbled down a dream about a vampire and turned it into a blockbuster franchise. Five film adaptations translate Meyer’s story into an experience that is somehow both romantic and campy, making it ideal escapism. (They’re available to stream for free on Amazon Prime. Yes, this blog post is the excuse you needed to press “play.”)

 

At the core of the series is the intense relationship between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison), a vegetarian vampire who’s sworn off human blood but can’t help falling for a mortal. Werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) serves as the third member of their love triangle. Edward is very sparkly. Jacob is very hot (literally: werewolves have high temperatures). What’s a girl to do? Caught between supernatural worlds, Bella wrestles with what it means to be human, to love, and to belong.

 

Although Twilight isn’t exactly a boardroom drama, it covers some of the same questions we face in our professional lives: Where do we fit in? How do we achieve our goals? Why does Bob from accounting always avoid the sunlight? 

 

Bella and Edward in Twilight pondering about where they fit in which is experienced in professional development.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Find Your People

From the moment the glittery Cullens glide into the cafeteria, Bella feels a connection. They may be vampires, but they’re her kind of people. “I've never felt normal, because I'm not normal, and I don't wanna be,” Bella tells Edward. “I've had to face death and loss and pain in your world, but I've also never felt stronger, like more real, more myself, because it's my world too. It's where I belong.”

 

As adults, we don’t have to worry about where to sit at the cafeteria. But we still crave a place where we belong. Finding a culture that fits your values, personality, and skills is key to a happy work life. Before you sign onto a new workplace, evaluate it: 

  • Find out whether the company has policies for diversity and inclusion. That’s a good sign they treat their employees with respect.
  • Know what you’re looking for. “The more you can identify what qualities you value in a company — a sense of community, say, or co-workers you’re happy to spend time with outside of work — the better equipped you’ll be to find a job that matches up,” says this Monster article. 
  • Talk to everyone who’s affiliated with the company, from your future colleagues and boss to former employees, suggests the Harvard Business Review. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the challenges of the workplace, but be positive and polite in all your interactions (they’re evaluating you, too).

 

At the end of the day, go with your gut. You deserve a work family who treats you with the same warmth and respect the Cullens give Bella: Making her a home-cooked Italian meal, inviting her to baseball games, and trying their very best not to, you know, eat her.  

 

Bella and Edward in Twilight working together and feeling included which is experienced in professional development.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Take Strategic Risks

Maybe it’s not the smartest idea to hang out with a group of hungry vampires who lick their lips when you cut your finger. But you can say one thing for Bella: She’s bold. She knows what she wants (to become a vampire herself) and she’s determined to get it. 

 

To be bolder in achieving your own goals, follow these tips from this Washington Post article:

  • Remind yourself of all the times you’ve been brave. 
  • Know the difference between legitimate fear (warning you to get out of a dangerous situation) and unfounded fear (causing you to hesitate before doing something you truly want to do). 
  • Have a strategy to help you deal with any obstacles that come your way.

 

Professional development skill of taking strategic risks in depicted in this scene of Twilight with Bella and a wolf.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Avoid Toxic Environments

Bella and Edward’s romance is so intense, it inspired E.L James to write fan fiction that became the best-selling erotica Fifty Shades of Grey. Nobody can deny the chemistry between Bella and her vampire beau, but some have questioned whether their relationship is healthy. Whether you’re Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team Bella-Doesn’t-Need-A-Boy, you’ve gotta admit there’s some toxic dynamics in this series.

 

Not only do we need to be aware of toxicity in our relationships, we must avoid it in our workplaces. Watch out for these hallmarks of a bad workplace, as listed by this CNBC article:

  • Intense pressure to get short-term results
  • Taboos against speaking up to power
  • Us-versus-them mentality
  • Dysfunctional competition
  • Lots of talk about values but not enough action
  • Lack of clarity around a vision
  • Disrespect
  • Lack of appreciation
  • Pessimism
  • Incivility and hurtfulness tolerated or even encouraged
  • Inequity, absence of meritocracy and injustice

 

Twilight scene with three antagonist depicting a toxic environment which is bad for professional development.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Don’t Let Corporate Get You Down

Are you already trapped in a toxic workplace? The Cullens would understand. They’re controlled by the Volturi, a group of corrupt vampires that basically represent the worst of corporate culture:

  • Unethical talent acquisition strategies. (Yes, the Volturi would kill to recruit.)
  • Paranoid behavior. They won’t let a single human know about their existence. Talk about red tape!
  • Undead eyes. You only get that look after you’ve spent eons in a coffin. Or in boardroom meetings.

 

Eventually, the Cullens stand up against these cold-blooded overlords. You can do the same. 

  • Know your limits. Although the Cullens tolerate the Volturi for a long time, they finally reach their breaking point. Is it finally time for you to walk out that door?
  • Find support. Just as the Cullens reach out to sympathetic vampires, you can talk to friends, family, and professional therapists to help you deal with the anxiety of a toxic workplace. 
  • Have an escape plan. For the Cullens, that meant a snowy battle. For you, that may mean optimizing your social profiles, networking, and interviewing for new positions. 

 

Bella and Jacob working together in Twilight symbolizing a positive professional development practice.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Collaborate (Even if Your Team Member is a Werewolf) 

Vampires and werewolves just don’t like each other. Edward wishes Jacob would wear more shirts. Jacob wishes Edward would drink less blood. Neither thinks the other smells very good. But when faced with a common enemy (the Volturi), they unite around their desire to protect Bella. 

 

If vampires and werewolves can put aside their differences to achieve a goal, so can we. This article from NBC News can help us be better team players:

  • Listen to your colleagues.
  • If you disagree, respectfully explain why.
  • Be helpful, but not a pushover.

 

Two actors in Twilight discussing together portraying collaboration which is a professional development best practice.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Combat Imposter Syndrome

Surrounded by immortals, Bella often feels inadequate. After all, she can’t read minds, see the future, sparkle in the sunlight, or change people’s moods with one long, creepy stare (we’re looking at you, Jasper). It takes a long time for her to realize she has the most valuable skill of all: A psychic force field. 

 

If you’ve ever felt that your colleagues are supernaturally good at their jobs, you may be hanging out with vampires. Or you might be dealing with imposter syndrome. When you feel that you don’t deserve your job, repeat the self-affirmations from this article: “You are here for a reason. In this job, your business, your life, you are worthy. You are better than you think you are. You are smarter than you think you are. You know more than you give yourself credit for.”

 

Then practice making that force field. 

 

Bella feeling inadequate as Edward stares her down which hinders professional development.

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

 

Prioritize Education

Edward tells Bella he’s been 17 years old for “a while,” which is another way to say he’s really a centurion. You’d think he would be tired of reliving high school, but no. (Just look at that carefully framed display of graduation caps on the Cullen’s wall!) Since an immortal being definitely knows how to skip class, we can only assume that Edward is endlessly attending high school because he believes in the value of education. 

 

Channel your inner Edward: Never stop learning. (We can help with that.)

 

Questions about how to become a vampire? We aren’t at liberty to answer. Questions about advancing your career? We’ve got your back. Explore our professional development programs, contact us through our website, or call us at 813-974-0950. 

 

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