For those who know me, Video games are a passion of mine. I've loved them since the first time I made a tiny plumber cross the screen and crush some mushrooms. I have always seen them as a constantly evolving work of art. Video games are a media that surpasses movie and literature because you have direct impact on the story. You are not just there to follow with your minds camera, but to experience events in either first or third person, and have your inputs and actions drive or even engineer the story. One franchise that proves this concept is Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda, a franchise spanning 35 years, 14 consoles and 27 games, and has taken storytelling to new heights with a protagonist that never speaks.
Note: We will never speak of the CD-i Zelda games, so the protagonist is still silent.
The story itself is fairly simple in nature. A young hero, Link, is tasked with saving a kingdom from an unknown evil, typical referred to as Ganon, and is supported by a princess, Zelda, with her knowledge and wisdom. In the majority of the games there is also a reference to the mythical triforce: the light that grants the user a wish to shape the world however they see fit. The triforce is named after the three components: Power, Wisdom and Courage. In the game, the hero, Link, represents courage for his willingness to face evil and never turn down a challenge. Wisdom is represented by Princess Zelda, who the legend is about. Her ability to know what's best for the kingdom and seek out the hero are allow her to lead her kingdom through the coming ordeal. And lastly, Power is represented by Ganon, an even born of malice and anger that looks to consume, control or destroy the world, depending on who he possesses at the time to move his plans forward.
I have played many of the games in this franchise, and I have found that this triforce of courage, wisdom and power often is found in my daily work in Human Resources. As HR Professionals, we are tasked with many actions that can seem large in scale or leading towards a disaster, and we have to be our own hero's to influence the best course of action from our people leaders. In order to be the best in our roles, here is what I see as our triforce of HR:
Courage: HR Professionals need to harness a lot of courage in our day to day job. Between the recruitment of sifting through piles of resumes, meeting candidates, interviews, and picking the best fit for the role, we have to be able to defend and support our decisions along the way. We are change agents for most initiatives within the organization, and often have support other departments in their changes to ensure the success in their projects. We have to fight back with claims are made about our organization and ensure that proper and ethical investigations are completed to best serve the business and the employee. Lastly, we are often there at the moment when individuals are terminated in an organization, and we have to have the courage to show empathy to the individuals situation, and not to allow the emotions in the moment to harm them or the business we are partnered with. Often times we have to go through these events alone, but we must also have the courage to ask for help when necessary. A major theme in Link's journey in the legend of Zelda series are that the friends and allies he meets along the way aid in his success, and often times he would not succeed without them. Early in the games there is a mentor to show you how to use a sword to defend yourself, and as HR professionals we too need mentors to show us how to best practice HR. Find your support network and reach out times are hard. Let them be your courage too.
Wisdom: Knowledge is knowing what your tools do, and Wisdom is the ability to know how to use your tools in a given situation. One of the best pieces of feedback that I have received in recent years is that I do not ask enough questions in my job. As a 30 something years old millennial, I tend to plunge head first into projects, and solve problems along the way. Often times, this can slow me down, but it also provides me with a lot of learning opportunities as I learn about the activity. However, I know that often the activity has probably been worked on in the past, and if I ask questions, I can draw on their knowledge to follow the best course of action. Princess Zelda is noted in the games for being a learned scholar and sage, and has sometimes taken actions that seem illogical in the moment, but were the best course of action. In Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Hyrule Castle is being attacked by Twilight Beast and their Leader Zant. In the throne room, Zelda is surrounded by her knights who are ready to give up their life to protect her, and she instead chooses to surrender in that moment. Instead of needless bloodshed, she choose to make herself a prisoner and reach out to find a hero who can defeat this evil. In the moment, her actions would have been criticized and belittled for her role as the leader, but by the end of the story we can see that her actions were in the best interest of the kingdom and led to the best possible result. In HR, we too may have to have the same wisdom as when delivering bad news such as terminations or a change in policy that may seem negative, but in the end it may be the best action for the employee and the business. Not all situations will have positive outcomes for all, however we have to be the change agent in the organization to get the action done.
Power: This is the part of the story that I would least associate with HR, but hear me out. HR is not a part of the business that often holds power, however we do hold leaders. We are Business Partners, Advisors and coordinators, and our actions influence the businesses that we participate in. In the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf starts off by gaining influence with the King of Hyrule before he is able to start his plans for domination, and while I do not suggest using influence to take over the world, HR must be a leader in the organization and support businesses through our influence. Ganondorf would later using his power to learn about the royal family and the artifacts needed to access the realm where the triforce lies, and HR must do the same to learn the business and the key players in it to ensure that we are there to impact the organization in the best way possible. Our power comes from sharing and connecting knowledge, not hoarding it, to paraphrase Maria Khan.
Overall, I know that the impacts that the Legend of Zelda has had on my practice as an HR professional is deep and profound. As I have said previously, video games are a passion of mine, and we should always follow our passions. For generations kids and adults have enjoyed this seasons, experiencing the triumphs and losses of Link in each of his iterations. Just as he does, we need to be our own hero with the courage to face the evil head on, with the wisdom to take the best course of action, and use our influence to ensure that power does not go unchecked.
Passionate about integrating technology and finding data driven solutions as a business partner.