Starting this week, we will be discussing a movie that we think teaches valuable lessons about the challenges facing all of us in developing a career, and trying to maintain the careful balance between work and life. This week we’ll be discussing Up in the Air starring George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, and many more.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Up In the Air is an incredibly interesting film that casts George Clooney as the hard working Ryan Bingham. Bingham’s entire career and life philosophy revolves around staying mobile and detached, and can be understood from his backpack speech featured in the trailer.

He spends his days flying from place to place where he works as an ‘executive terminator’ firing employees for employers who don’t want to do it themselves. As the film goes on Bingham realizes that the things that keep people grounded like family and friends, just might be as valuable as those that keep you in flight. The film also shows an interesting dynamic between two very different types of workers. Bingham is the seasoned veteran who defines himself by his work, and Anna Kendrick’s Natalie Keener is young, driven, and innovative. In their own ways, both characters learn that you can’t compartmentalize everything, and sometimes a personal connection is the most important thing in the world. While both characters are also extremely smart and successful, their outlook because of that success is very different.

There is an interesting lesson in the film, and it highlights two different philosophies in work. Bingham’s philosophy on life is that the people around us hold us down and make us heavier, keeping us from success. He is disconnected from society, and throughout the film he begins to question this approach, but never gives us a decisive answer. On the other hand, Natalie Keener constantly pushes back against this idea. She believes people are what bring value to each day, and that our connections strengthen us rather than holding us back. Personally I subscribe to the latter belief, but both viewpoints have merit. No matter which party you fall under, the film gets you thinking about both lifestyles, and you will find yourself considering the pros and cons of both options as you watch the film.

Your work and career are what you make it. You can decide to focus on strengthening your connections, and being a people driven worker. Or you can focus solely on success, and try to become the absolute best. The film offers these two approaches, although there are many more in life. While you may not believe in either, the film itself makes for a very memorable experience that will keep you thinking about the type of life you want your career to bring you. We hope you enjoyed this first entry in our Silver Screen Career Advice blog series, and look forward to your return for the next!