Tag Archives: Avatar

Nobody Ever Accomplishes Anything Great Alone

Nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone. Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to participate in a presentation at the Utah Podcast summit. The topic of the presentation was how to build a great team, or the benefit of building a great team. The host from the summit introduced as and mentioned something along the lines of nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone, and I have been thinking about that a lot since then. Like, I really can’t stop thinking about it, and it seems to be a theme that has repeated itself in the things I have binged and watched since then. This whole idea won’t leave me alone. Which I guess is good, because if I want to accomplish anything great, I can’t b e alone.

Let me give you an example. After the summit, I watched, binge watched really, all of Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time. And this concept stood out to me. Hang was the Avatar- he was supposed to bring balance back to the nations, and help bring down the Fire Nation and all of that. That’s a lot of pressure for what was basically a kid. And he was untrained. And had no experience or confidence. The only thing he had going for him was that he was the Avatar. Which ain’t nothin’. But he wouldn’t have gotten very far without his friends. They help him all along the way, and each one was important for his success- either training him in bending the other elements, or standing by him as he battled the Fire Nation. Aang was a hero, but he accomplished what he did only because he was not alone. Even when he was alone against the Fire Lord, he wasn’t alone. Nobody accomplishes anything great alone.

As I have been spending more time at home, as I think most of us have been, I have been trying to read more. One of the series I have wanted to read is The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien. I have read the series a few times before, and I love it. I love the films. I love Middle Earth. Period. End of story. But as I have been reading the series, again this whole idea of not accomplishing anything great alone has been slapping me in the face. The Fellowship needed each other, Aragorn couldn’t return as the king without help, Rohan helping Gondor, and of course where would Frodo be without Sam. I don’t think he would have made it all the way. He needed Sam to make it and to destroy the ring. Nobody accomplishes anything great alone.

One last example. I just finished watching The Last Dance on Netflix. It was a sweet trip down memory lane. Michael Jordan was the NBA when I was a kid. The Bulls dominated the 90s, and Jordan was obviously a central reason why. The Bulls would not have won a championship with Jordan, but Jordan also wouldn’t have won a championship without the Bulls. And here it was, this whole idea smacking me upside the head one more time. Jordan was amazing, incredible, the greatest of all time.The GOAT. Don’t come around my house with any of that LeBron James stuff. It’s not happening here. But as incredible as Jordan was, he didn’t win a championship until Phil Jackson helped him realize how he could work with the rest of his team. Once he learned how to elevate his game by elevating those around him, he , and the Bulls were unstoppable. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. And that’s painful to say as a lifelong Jazz fan. Nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone.

So why am I so fixated on this right now? And why am I sharing it with you, dear reader? Those are both very good questions. I think for me personally, I have been thinking a lot about where I am in life, and where I want to be. Someone I follow on Twitter asked the question- if you could go back in time and meet your 10 year old self, what would he or she think of you? Something along those lines. My response was pretty short and sweet. I basically said Huge disappointment. I would never want my 10 year old self to meet me right now. This sounds super harsh and negative. Here’s the thing though, my 10 year old self had dreams of me being a WWE Champ, or maybe a football player or something crazy like that. He also wanted to be a writer. I have always loved stories, and at some point, I found out I was pretty ok at putting words together. My dream has always been to be a writer. Instead, I am a customer service manager who sometimes feels like kind of a big deal on my podcasts. It’s kind of sad really. Again, though, please understand, I don’t regret my job choices, because somewhere along the way I had new dreams- I wanted to be a husband and a father, and I have accomplished those things, and the work I have done has helped me to do that.

And, I haven’t given up my dreams to be a writer. I am going to write a book. I am going to get it published. I am not giving up on that stuff, even though I haven’t accomplished it yet. And who knows, maybe someday my podcasting will pay off, or my blog or whatever. All of these things are possible, but I won’t be able to accomplish any of these great things alone. I need to surround myself with my Katarra and Sokka. Even a Zuko who challenges me to bring out my best. I need to find my Legolas and Gimli, Merry and Pippin, and especially my Sam (probably have that already in my wife). I need to surround myself with a mentor like Phil Jackson, a sidekick like Pippen or other player like Paxson, Rodman, or Kerr. I need my Bulls. And I look around and I think some of them are there, but some aren’t.

And I guess I am sharing all of this with you, dear reader, to encourage you to go out and assemble your squad. Whatever your goals in life are, find the squad to support those goals. That should be your squad goals- to find the people you can support and who can support you. You will accomplish great things. You were put on this earth to accomplish great things, so find your team, find your family and do those things. Because nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone.

Iroh and Zuko

In February of 2005, a new animated series debuted on the kids’ network, Nickelodeon, called Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was something totally new for the network that had been all about cheesy kids drama and over the top comedies, and their Nicktoons, which were funny, but totally unlike Avatar. I’ll be honest here, I didn’t catch this show the first time around. I was busy being a young single guy, and this was a time in my life where I was distancing myself from a lot of “nerdy” stuff. I didn’t think the girls I wanted to date would find it too appealing. That is all very shallow and dumb, and I know that now, but I didn’t then because I was a lot younger and stupid. In any case, I missed the Last Airbender train at that time, and didn’t really know much about the series.

Fast forward to now, 2020, and the series is available in its entirety on Netflix. Again, honesty here, as I tell you that I still didn’t know much about the series when I started watching it, except that everyone I know who had seen it, loves it. Like a lot. So I only really knew that it was pretty good and had a strong fan base. So I decided to give it a try. Best decision I ever made, because I love this show. It is probably top three for animated series for me. The animation is clean and crisp. The voice acting is solid, and the storytelling is fantastic. It made me sad that I wasted 15 years not loving this show. 

One of the parts of the show that I love is the evolution of the characters and their relationships. Especially the characters we meet at the beginning of the series, and see throughout the show and see their growth. None of them are the same and their growth and development feels natural, and not forced, and I love that. It makes sense. None of them, though, touch me or mean as much to me as the fire prince Zuko. He is one bad dude at the beginning of the series, and in the end he becomes one of Aang’s close friends. How does this happen? Well, I would argue he wasn’t all that terrible to begin with- his motives were not bad. He was hunting the Avatar to restore his honor, and gain the respect of his dad. That is something I can relate to. There has been a lot in my life that I have done to earn my dad’s respect. In a lot of ways, I’m still trying, and feel like I have fallen way short.

It makes me wish I had my own Uncle Iroh, because Uncle Iroh is the greatest uncle/mentor that exists in pop culture. His relationship is the reason why Zuko comes around and ends up helping the Avatar in the end. And Uncle Iroh is the guy I want to be when I grow up. He is constantly trying to help Zuko see there is more to life than honor and fighting. He teaches him about destiny and love finding ways to have your life wherever you are. Life happens where you are is such an awesome concept about making the most and best of where you are, instead of wishing you were somewhere else.

What I love about these two, is how Zuko responds to his uncle, and how Iroh responds to his nephew. In the beginning, Zuko can’t stand his uncle, who is basically babysitting him as he hunts the Avatar. He thinks Iroh is weird, and old and weak, and honestly in the beginning he seems that way. Maybe quirky is a better word than weird. He basically responds like any teenage boy would He is too cool for his uncle. He knows better than him and doesn’t need him. As they get stuck in the Earth Kingdom, he comes to appreciate his uncle more, but it’s out of comfort and really despair. Then, when they return to the Fire Kingdom, he doesn’t need his uncle anymore and turns his back on him.

Until he realizes he does need his uncle. He realizes his uncle was the only family, besides his mother, who loved Zuko. Who saw what Zuko could be, and what destiny he could write for himself. And he fears he won’t ever see his uncle again and ask for his forgiveness and let him know how much he loves him. All of this seems natural. All of it is in line with Zuko’s character and his development. None of this feels forced in the story, and as I was watching, I wanted him to find Iroh again. I hoped Iroh would forgive him.

Here’s the thing, Iroh had lost everything. His standing in the Fire Kingdom, a throne which should have been his, his own son. He lost all of it, but somewhere along the way he realized he didn’t need all of that. It didn’t define honor, and it wasn’t his destiny. He saw something special in his nephew, and took the opportunity away from the Fire Kingdom to try to teach his nephew what was really important, and what it meant to find your destiny. Iroh becomes so endearing throughout the series. I always found him quirky, but as it went on, I really legitimately loved him. 

There is one moment, one moment in the series that just made the whole show for me. It was the moment when Zuko finally finds his uncle in the Order of the White Lotus. He goes into his tent, unsure of whether his uncle would forgive him, and take him back. And I was nervous he might not. Maybe Zuko had pushed him too far. I wasn’t totally sure. I should have been, but I wasn’t. But that moment, when before Zuko can say anything, Iroh takes him and embraces him- it broke me. My heart just melted. Iroh in that moment showed me what a parent should feel for their child. The love that know no boundary, no end. He just took Zuko in and just forgave him and loved him.

It reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son. It was just portrayed so beautifully. And it made me think of the love my Heavenly Father has for me. The times when I have been far away from him. When I didn’t think I needed him. The times when I ran from my own destiny. And it reminded me of the love he has for each of us. The love that knows no end. It was a beautiful moment for me, and it makes me smile whenever I think of it. 

That moment alone may be the top reason why I love this show.

If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, I highly recommend it. It is on Netflix right now, available for your streaming pleasure.