Self-Reflection: 4 Life Lessons From Mulan

Dec 12, 2014 4 Min Read

Exploring lessons from yet another fictional character, today we travel back in time to ancient China to look at one of Disney’s well known and well-loved animated characters Fa (or Hua) Mulan.

Inspired by a real legendary figure, Hua Mulan, people believe that the origins of this story are from a poem written about her, titled The Ballad of Mulan.

In certain situations, a little optimism and creative thinking can go a long way!

In this movie, Mulan takes her father’s place in war, as she fears his age and fragile health will be greatly disadvantageous to him.

Accompanied by her trusty horse named Khan, a little dragon named Mushu, and a lucky cricket named Cri Kee, she sets out to war as her male alter ego Ping.

Mulan is someone with a great love for her country, she has filial piety, and a determined spirit – despite her headstrong and stubborn characteristics – and there are many things that we can learn from her.

Here are a few (warning spoilers ahead):

1. Don’t ever let limitations stop you

Mulan: No one will listen to me
Mushu: Huh? I’m sorry, did you say something?
Mulan: Mushu!
Mushu: Hey, you’re a girl, again.Remember?
Fa Zhou: I am ready to serve the emperor
Mulan: Father! You can’t go!
Fa Zhou: Mulan!
Mulan: (to the recruiter) Please, sir. My father has already fought for…
Chi Fu: Silence! (to Fa Zhou) You would do well to teach your daughter to hold her tongue in a man’s presence.

Despite living in a time when it was generally believed that women should be seen and not heard, Mulan didn’t allow such gender inequalities and social pressures to stop her from doing what she believed to be right – fighting for her family.

Likewise, there may be many obstacles out there to stop us from doing what we believe in.

However (given that they are ethical and moral), we should be like Mulan and first believe in ourselves. Once we do, no external limitations can stop us.

2. Bravery opens doors of opportunities

In the famous scene of her transformation, Mulan is shown cutting her hair and putting on her father’s armour before going to war.

While some people may depict Mulan as somebody who is eager to go out and fight, this may not be necessarily true at the outset.

Personally, this part of the movie showed me how a brave young woman took on a great task that could potentially have cost her her life, out of love for her father.

Mulan’s act of bravery not only leads her to meet the man of her dreams and firm friends, but it plays a crucial role in saving China and bringing honour to the Fa family.

In life, sometimes all we need is the bravery to step up and act on things that we believe in, and maybe the doors of opportunity that have been closed will even open to us.

3. Persevere through tough times and never give up

In yet another famous scene in the movie, Shang challenges his soldiers to climb up a tall wooden pole to retrieve an arrow that he shot to the top.

Shang: This (pulls one disk up) – represents discipline… and this (pulls another disk up) …represents strength. You need both to reach the arrow.

While everyone rose to the challenge, not everyone had the determination to see it through.

After a long day of training, all the trainee soldiers gave up and returned to their tents, with Shang telling Mulan to return home.

However, determined to accomplish the task, she stayed up all night to climb the pole, and eventually reached the top to retrieve the arrow.

All of us will face challenges in our lives – be it in the workplace, or in our own homes.

Nonetheless, it is important to remember: don’t let them get the better of us; don’t give up.

4. Be creative and think out of the box

(Mulan uses the last rocket, then points it at the mountain behind Shan Yu)

Mushu: (from on top of the rocket as it soars away) You missed! How could you miss? He was three feet from you!

In the battle scene at a mountain, the Hun army attacked Mulan and her troop. With only one rocket left as their means of attack, Yao gets prepared to fire it at Shan Yu who is leading his army.

However, Mulan innovatively handles this crisis by grabbing the rocket and firing it at a nearby mountain instead, causing an avalanche that buried the Hun army.

Likewise, we shouldn’t allow our limitations to dictate what we can or cannot do. In certain situations, a little optimism and creative thinking can go a long way!

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Sarah is formerly an intern with the Leaderonomics Editorial Team.

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