Saving Mr Banks: Taking The Bitter With The Sweet

Feb 13, 2015 1 Min Read

Photo credit (above): iMovies Guide


Mary Poppins shows us the way to have a healthy work-life balance

“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

Good luck getting that song out of your head!

Those simple words in a beloved movie perfectly defines what it means to overcome a daunting task, while still having fun.

In the movie Saving Mr Banks, which explores the arduous 20-year-long effort of Walt Disney to obtain the rights to the Mary Poppins franchise, this song rings true in so many ways.

In particular, the movie focuses on that beautiful, illuminating moment where work and life collide to give the most enjoyment while achieving the most success.

The plot centres loosely on the classic Mary Poppins movie with Julie Andrews as cinema’s most enchanting, loveable, and magical nanny ever put on screen.

For those who do not know the movie Mary Poppins, you really need to watch it!

It will change your life as it did mine. For those who have watched it before, here is a virtual high-five coming your way. To the rest, well, spoilers ahead.

Swallowing medicine

Combining work and relationships can either go either way, but it does reveal what matters more.

In one scene, Banks brings his two children, Jane and Michael, into the bank where he works.

The day goes disastrously wrong when one of the children causes a riot at the father’s workplace. The aftermath of it is that Banks has to rethink his career and his family relationships.

I am sure that that very moment has been experienced by many who have tried to mingle family with work.

According to Time magazine columnist Eric Barker:

“In everyday life, bad events have stronger and more lasting consequences than comparable good events.”

In this movie we learn that knowing your values and setting clear boundaries will help to maintain a healthy relationship between family time and worktime.

Tuning the work-life balance

According to speaker and author Nigel Marsh in his TED talks “How to make work-life balance work”, it is all about enjoying the simple moments.

Take time off to be with your loved ones. Take half a day off and just hang out with your children after school, take them for a pizza or read them a story.

These small acts of enjoyment make the relationship meaningful. As the song goes, it only takes a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

Small amounts of deliberate, meaningful moments can make a difference in everyone’s lives, be it their jobs or their relationships.

Just savouring the sugary moments you do have (even little ones) is the single most proven method for achieving a good balance between family and work.

Meaningful lives

The concept of small but meaningful moments also comes to mind when we want to live purposeful lives.

The purpose of Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks in Saving Mr Banks demonstrates this perfectly. He is driven so enthusiastically to make Mary Poppins because of a promise to his children.

That single purpose not only propels him to strive to make the movie, but also inspires the author, P. L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson, to release the rights of Mary Poppins to him.

Enthusiasm is a powerful force. When you find meaning in your work, you are more inclined to excel. The drive and passion shown by Disney’s character is one of the biggest reasons this famous classic was ever made.

Excelling in your work gives you that feeling of achievement as well as being spiritually poised. Find that purpose in what you do, and the rewards will be apparent.

Saving Mr Banks shows that work and life should not be taken too extremely. Life is too short to constantly struggle to find time between work and family.

Time with loved ones is non-negotiable. Determine for yourself what is important and what brings you the most happiness.

Remember, just a spoonful of sugar. That is all it takes to make the moments in life the best you can have.

Yasir Osman is a part of the Youth Division of Leaderonomics that is passionate about inspiring youths towards leadership excellence. He is also a part of Youth Media that creates video and internet content for leadership development. He develops young leaders through a series of camps known as the DIODE Camps. If you are interested in developing yourself as a young leader, you can email him at or drop us a line or two in the comment box below. For more Movie Wisdom articles, click here.

Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 14 February 2015

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This article is published by the editors of with the consent of the guest author. 

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