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Last Updated on October 22, 2018

5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester

5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester

Is it possible to say anything bad about Supernatural’s co-protagonist, Dean Winchester? I mean, from the very beginning of the show he’s done nothing but save people, hunt things, and look out for his oft-misguided brother Sam, all while putting everyone else’s needs before his own.

Despite a few mishaps and stumbles here and there, Dean really is a great role model (well, excluding his tendency to consume copious amounts of alcohol and spend a bit too much time with a certain adult magazine).

Below, you’ll find a list of just a few of the things that Dean Winchester has taught me about life (beware, spoilers abound)…

1. Always Look Out For Your Family.

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    At the end of the day, all you really have is your family, and thus it’s important not to cut your ties with them unless absolutely necessary. As much as you’d like to think you could do without them sometimes, especially when they’re acting up, it’s a fact that most of us need some sort of support system to keep persevering in our daily lives. That motivation, that drive to succeed, that helping hand when you need it most; it often comes from family. It’s incredibly hard to go it alone in this world, and we should all be thankful for those in our family who make our journeys just a bit easier.

    Dean grew up on the road, and often found himself in difficult circumstances. Without his dad and brother, he’d have been killed, or worse, long ago. Thus, Dean goes to extreme lengths to maintain his relations with what little family he has left.

    His brother therefore is everything to him, so much so that it becomes overbearing to Sam at times (which says more about Sam’s flaws than Dean’s, in my opinion).

    Dean looked out for Sam even when most sane people would turn the other cheek. Heck, he even gave up his soul to resurrect Sam, and later dealt with his brother’s addiction with demon blood in such an understanding manner (given the circumstances) that he probably deserves some kind of award. Later, when Castiel became a permanent fixture on the show, he too became a part of Dean’s family, and as such Dean has looked out for the prodigal angel ever since. Dean is just a supremely loyal guy, who’s insanely protective of the people he loves.

    While you shouldn’t let family members take advantage of you (more on this below), keeping close ties with them and looking out for their best interests is noble indeed.

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    2. Take Care Of Your Car.

    Is there anyone better at maintaining a car than Dean Winchester? It seems that all he needs is a few hours and some bicep flexing to get his 1967 Chevy Impala running as well as it did in…well…1967.

    I have absolutely zero sense when it comes to the mechanics of a car, so I admire Dean’s technical prowess. But this goes even deeper than the car. It’s about the symbolism of it all. We all have something we care about in this world more than most. Some may call it a hobby, some may call it an obsession, but you know it as the thing you love doing. For me it might be writing or video games. For Dean it’s his Impala. For my mom, it would be teaching. For you, it could be any number of things.

    As you see in the image above, Dean keeps his nearly fifty year old car looking brand spanking new, something of a miracle judging by how many times it has been wrecked in the show. If we all put that much elbow grease into the things we are obsessed with and care about the most, not only would we be happier, but the world would be a better place as well!

    To put it even more simply, if you love something as much as Dean loves his Impala, take the time to maintain it, to keep it in tip top shape. I know I’m getting abstract here, but if you like writing, that means keep writing!

    Or if you love cooking, keep coming up with new recipes!

    Dean is passionate about his car, and the time he puts into showing that passion is something we should all emulate when it comes to the things we love and are obsessed with.

    3. Being Brave Has Its Benefits.

    Who would have thought that Lucifer could be beaten by a mixture of bravery and brotherly love? Dean’s shown time and time again in Supernatural that he’s willing to risk his life and limb to take down the greatest of evils, whether it be Azazel, Lilith, Alastair, or the Devil himself. On that same note, were would any of us be if we didn’t have a bit of bravery? I know that I personally would be practically nowhere without the tiny amount of courage I’m able to conjure up now and then. Life is difficult, and it takes perseverance and a belief in oneself to make progress.

    For instance, I’m currently applying to a smattering of PhD programs. Frankly, it’s terrifying, putting myself out there to be judged by faceless entities in some of the world’s top universities. But I’m doing it because I know it’s the right thing for my future, no matter how much it hurts to expose myself to possible rejection.

    One thing I noticed while studying history is that great leaders usually aren’t the most intelligent, all-around awesome people in the room. Otherwise, Ben Franklin would have been our first President and Machiavelli’s republic would have worked out. No, the people who blaze a trail into the future are the ones willing to make tough, heat-of-the-moment decisions without knowing what the exact consequences might be.

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    Often times, all it takes is a bit of moxy and belief in oneself to accomplish things you thought were impossible. For instance, I thought I could never lecture or teach a class, but when the day finally came I walked through the door, took a deep breath, and just went with it.

    Lo and behold it all went fine! Dean is the epitome of that dive in and ask questions later mentality. It may not always be the smartest move on the chess board, but it’s often the one that results in the swiftest victory.

    While there are certainly benefits to thinking everything through, sometimes the situation calls for an empty mind and bold action.

    4. You Will Lose, What Matters Is How You Deal With It.

    As a way to get my creative juices flowing for this article, I’m listening to Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser,” which is one of many songs that could be called Dean Winchester’s theme.

    Indeed, it played at the beginning of season 6 when Dean was still trying to cope with the fact that his brother was “dead” by trying to live a normal suburban life (which to Dean was probably worse than the forty years he spent in hell). Of course, we can all relate just a bit to Mr. Seger’s song, as we all find ourselves down in the dumps at one point or another. What matters it how we react to such adversity. Do we cower, and let our failures consume us, or keep fighting and hope to win in the future? Obviously, the latter choice is the better option.

    A good example I have relates to the basketball player Kobe Bryant, a polarizing figure to say the least. He recently attained the NBA record for most shots missed overall, which sounds bad on paper. But let’s look at the facts. Despite the fact that Kobe failed to make thousands of shots, he didn’t let it bring him down. If he let a bad shooting night or two keep him from being who he is, it’s doubtful he would have won five championships.

    We all lose, and are losers, at some points. Even the best of us. We just need to remember that there’s always a new day tomorrow, that there’s always a chance to make up for past deficiencies, always another opportunity to throw the ball into the basket. You aren’t defined by your failures, but by how you choose to react to them.

    Dean’s probably lost more than any character on Supernatural. He blamed himself for his dad’s death, was unable to keep Sam from going dark side, and unknowingly started the chain of events that led to Lucifer’s release.

    On top of all that, he seems to get his face smashed in by people who are supposed to love him pretty frequently, as you can see by the image used above. Fast forward to season 10, and we’ve seen Dean have to deal fairly consistently with people (read: Sam) who don’t appreciate anything he’s done for them.

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    Dean epitomizes the fact that we humans lose, a lot. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to sit on our laurels and let life beat us down.

    Despite dealing with the lowest of lows, Dean has always risen above in the end and done what’s right. It hasn’t always worked out, but I’d say he’s seen a net positive effect from his actions despite everything he’s been through.

    5. Sometimes You Have To Let It All Out.

    This season, Dean turned into a demon, which removed his humanity and allowed him to go crazy (it involved lots of bar fights and karaoke).

    This version of Dean was all-powerful and snarky to the max. He let everyone have it, especially Sam, who for the past several seasons has treated Dean like an annoyance. Obviously, there’s no way I know of to gain the powers of a demon, and so none of us can let it all out like Dean in the literal sense. But if you’re feeling wronged by somebody, something, or the world as a whole, it’s a great idea to let off some steam every so often.

    This can come in the form of an angry outburst, a lengthy crying session, a prolonged run, a few angry screams at the moon while on an empty beach. Whatever works for you to try and address the pain you’ve been feeling. This doesn’t have to occur very frequently, nor should it. It’s a way to address whatever problems you’ve been dealing with in life in a rapid manner, and come back with a renewed outlook on whatever you were dealing with.

    Sometimes everyone, even someone with as perfect of a personality as Dean Winchester, has to let out their demons, literally or figuratively.

    You can’t just bottle it up all of the time. Dean tried to do this, and it only sparked the series of events that led to him becoming a demon.

    In my opinion, Dean’s time on the dark side was good for him and his loved ones, as they got to hear just how much they’d been taking advantage of his loyalty and trust all these years.

    So there you have it. Dean isn’t just on Supernatural to be a pretty face. He’s there to represent the kind of flawed human with good intentions that we all aspire to be.

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    Though his brother Sam has shown flashes of this as well, Dean really is the one who exudes the kind of loyalty, care, and resiliency that I and others envy.

    After 9 seasons of looking out for literally everyone, I think that Dean’s time as a demon was a breath of fresh air for the character.

    Will this form of his return?

    I hope so, because Dean deserves more than two episodes to rail against all of the people who stepped on him for years.

    Are you a Dean Winchester fan? Or just a fan of Supernatural?

    No matter which, or even none, you can benefit from the lessons the character teaches us!

    Featured photo credit: Dean Winchester/sandrieliribeiro via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on April 11, 2019

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

    I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

    I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

    Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    How Communication Skills Help Your Success

    Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

    Create a Positive Experience

    Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

    When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

    What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

    Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

    As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

    Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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    Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

    Help Leadership Skills

    It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

    Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

    As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

    Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

    If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

    Build Better Teams

    Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

    In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

    If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

    When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

    Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

    Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

    1. Listen

    Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

    Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

    People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

    Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

    Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

    2. Know Your Audience

    Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

    Here is a good way to think about it:

    Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

    You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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    3. Minimize

    I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

    He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

    Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

    State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

    The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

    4. Over Communicate

    So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

    What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

    Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

    Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

    Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

    There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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    5. Body Language

    The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

    When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

    In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

    When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

    Conclusion

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

    Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

    There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    Now go communicate your way to success.

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    Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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