Wisdom From Calvin And Hobbes

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07-08-2013

5 min read

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yasir.osman@leaderonomics.com

It’s a magical world Hobbes old Buddy, let’s go exploring.” This was the final line from Bill Watterson’s comic strip about a six year old kid named Calvin and his best friend Hobbes, a stuffed tiger.

With Calvin’s imagination, the two together explore and share many adventures. Along the way, they even dish out wisdom through their intellectual and humorous conversations.

Let’s see what career advice we can learn from the wonderful world of Calvin and Hobbes.

  1. Know what you want

“Happiness isn’t enough for me! I demand euphoria!” screams Calvin. For a six-year-old kid, Calvin sure knows what he wants.

That is how to start a journey. Have a clear vision of what we want in life, so we can aim high. The determination to succeed is a crucial factor for anyone who wants to succeed.

Being able to articulate where you want to go is also a plus. This clear goal will help keep you focused on your journey.

Once you achieve that particular goal, aim even higher. The most important thing is to never be complacent. The more you grow as a person, the more you grow your ambition.

  1. Build character

Speaking of work, every time Calvin’s father tells him to do a chore, the reason for it is always to build Calvin’s character.

“Why can’t we get a snow blower, we must be the only family in the world that still shovels the driveway!” yells Calvin. His father answers “It builds character. Keep at it!”

When you are young, this is the best time to build your character, values and principles. These are the traits that will stick with you throughout the duration of your life.

Build your work ethics. This will help immensely when you have to work. Do not underestimate the value of an honest day’s work. The sooner you learn that lesson, the better off you will be in the future.

  1. 3 Don’t be afraid to stand out

Naturally there are things in life that can be changed and there are things that can’t be. Some shouldn’t even be changed at all.

Every individual is unique in their own way, and with that uniqueness, you can stand out in a crowd.

One recurring theme in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip is the ‘show and tell’ session in his classroom. Without fail, Calvin comes up with the most unique presentations.

Even when he fails to prepare for it, he manages to pull them off with vigour and humour. Preparation would have made them better of course, but Calvin clearly has no issues standing out from the crowd.

Always use any opportunity to share who you are with the world. Of course not everyone will agree with you or like you for it, but they will certainly remember you.

In the working world, standing out from colleagues can mean the difference between getting the promotion or not. So be brave, show and tell the world who you are and what you are capable of.

  1. Be adaptable

The best thing about Calvin and Hobbes is the games they play. One in particular is simply brilliant because of its one rule: they cannot use the same rule twice. One minute you are going for a goal, the next you are in the singing zone and have to belt out the sorry song. The game is never played the same way twice.

There are rules in life that we try to follow and expectations that we build up. Then we become disappointed and bitter when things don’t work out the way we expect them to.

However, for Calvin and Hobbes, the expectation they have is that rules will and must change all the time. Therein lies the adventure that is life! The world is always changing so the rules that govern it also change. Charting your way through life can be challenging so you need to be adaptable to the variations around.

Find ways to do things and find solutions to problems. It is up to your ingenuity and adaptability to work through the ever-evolving challenges of life.

  1. Think outside the box




In the comic strip, there is a cardboard box that can change into a ‘transmogrifier’, a ‘duplicator’ or even a time machine. The simple storage contraption can become anything Calvin and Hobbes imagine it to be.


That is what true creativity is. It can turn a known idea into something brand new by having a different perspective.


In any type of career, the ability to think outside the box, or in this case transform the box completely, is a valuable trait. Creativity can be a characteristic that can be moulded and refined by continuing to practice it.


  1. Enjoy yourself

Enjoy the small things in life as well. “Actually it is hard to argue with someone who looks so happy,” exclaims Calvin, watching Hobbes enjoying exactly what he wants: a big sunny field.

There will always be time for work but never forget to enjoy yourself. Remember to take breaks. Having these breaks are important for balance in life.

Science has even proven that taking short breaks in-between work can increase a person’s productivity. What is your big sunny field? Find it and make time for it.

  1. Use your imagination

Another aspect of why I love Calvin and Hobbes is the numerous worlds they come up with. The imaginative realm in Calvin’s head can be breathtakingly beautiful.

One minute you are in a boring classroom and all of a sudden, your chair and table turn into a dinosaur and you are immediately transported to the Triassic Period.

Imagination is a powerful tool to find solutions to everyday problems. Imagining the possibility of how things can be, is the first step to getting a breakthrough. New phones, new buildings, new cures and new methods all start with a thought and a little imagination.

  1. Embrace learning

That brings me to my concluding point, which is bringing fantasy to reality. You do this by constantly learning. How Calvin and Hobbes learn is through exploration. Calvin goes out into the world, explores it, learns from it, and embraces it. In his own words, “there is treasure everywhere”. All you need to do is look.

Knowledge is key to finding the balance between the possible and the impossible. It injects realism. Never stop learning, because there will always be something we don’t yet know.

With a combination of creativity, good character, determination, individuality and a bit of fun, anything is attainable. That is what I learned from the magnificent world of Calvin and Hobbes. Who says you can’t learn anything from comics?

Yasir Osman was from the Youth Division of Leaderonomics. He is passionate about inspiring youths towards leadership excellence. He is part of Youth Media that creates video and internet leadership content. He also develops young leaders through a series of camps known as DIODE Camps.

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