Brunos are like buses. You go most of your Disney-watching life without one then BAM – within a year, two Brunos.
I refer, of course, to Luca’s “Bruno” – the voice of your personal anxieties, who Alberto instructs him to silence: “Silenzio, Bruno,” is his emphatic imperative, encouraging Luca to ignore his anxieties and dive headfirst into hair-raising situations.
And of course, unless you’ve been under a rock – you know of Bruno Madrigal – black sheep uncle and outcast for speaking uncomfortable premonitions of the future, dark insights – truths, some might say – in Encanto.
I want to talk about both Brunos today.
As someone who’s worked hard to overcome a number of personal anxieties over the years, the idea of ‘silencing’ them doesn’t sit well with me. When we silence a fear and rush headlong into it – this can reinforce the fear. You start to passively avoid the scenario, even if you silenced Bruno once, twice – if you don’t engage with the fear or anxiety, you will end up being ruled by Bruno. Indeed (and slight spoilers here), this is Alberto’s challenge – he rushes headlong in spite of a number of Brunos, whilst avoiding the underpinning ones which end up governing his life.
There are any number of professional Brunos we have to face off against. The Bruno of interpersonal conflict. Of challenging authority, speaking truth to power. The only way to square off against these Brunos is to understand and escape the root causes – unpick your anxieties, understand the consequences – and engage with them. (And of course, there are any number of scenarios where you should absolutely not silence Bruno…)
And indeed, you don’t want to be taking on Brunos every day. It’s exhausting and will make you few friends. Pick your Brunos.
There’s a lot to say about Bruno.
Of course, the family Madrigal would rather not talk about future-seeing Bruno for much of the story. It’s too difficult to consider all the anxieties of the possible – the paralysis the information brings, the sense of a loss of fate, the fear of failure. And yet most of us aren’t related to an Oracle who can see the future, and so live with this fear all the time. That we won’t be good enough, we won’t live up to what people expect of us. As strong sister Luisa sings in ‘Surface pressure:’
Under the surface
I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus
Under the surface
Was Hercules ever like, “Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus”?
Under the surface
I’m pretty surе I’m worthless if I can’t be of servicе
As in Disney, so too in life. Our fears often don’t hold up to the cold hard scrutiny of reason. Whether that’s asking for a promotion or taking a risk in your professional life, understanding the actual consequences of those decisions and behaviours – and asking yourself if they really are as bad as your worst Bruno – is an important thing to do.
Why the long Metaphor, Bruno?
The reason I’m writing about all this is, having joined an organization that’s embarked on an ambitious and substantive transformation program, I see Brunos everywhere.
Brunos we need to engage with, then get past as we are forced to tackle new, seemingly dangerous, and uncomfortable challenges.
Brunos we need to talk about, as we work through the implications, risks, and challenges inherent in navigating huge change.
Brunos that shape the way we need to communicate with our staff, and the wider market.
Understanding the entire spectrum of choices we need to make in these scenarios is critical in navigating the risks we must take in order to succeed. As prolific fantasy author Raymond E Feist reportedly said, “you can’t succeed unless you’re willing to take the risk of failure.”