Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lessons from Robin Hood

Legend calls him Robin Hood.

Did he exist? Likely he did, as did Little John and some of the other Merry Men. Certainly Prince John existed; he became King John of Magna Charta fame. History records that he wasn’t a very nice person either. One of the more recent (and creative) versions of Robin Hood, with Russell Crowe, even incorporates the Magna Charta in the plot.

There is a romantic aura surrounding Robin Hood, hence all the legends that surround him and his activities.
When I was young, I wanted to be Robin Hood. I made a dozen bows out of sticks and string. None worked well, thankfully for the health of my brothers and all our neighborhood pets.

A number of lessons come to the fore when I think of the Legend of Robin Hood.

1. Charisma is important. Robin Hood was a crook, but he got away with it because people loved him and because he had extraordinary people skills. Plus he was an expert with a bow. It’s critical to note that …

2. Expertise is important. You should be an expert at some skill. Robin Hood was an expert bowman. Friar Tuck (though it was lost in most versions) was an expert swordsman. Little John was an expert with a staff. Will Scarlett was an expert with either the lute or ladies; that one is debatable. Hand in hand with this, you must …

3. Know which side you’re on. Robin of Locksley was born on the rich side of life. No doubt as Robin Hood he stole from people he grew up with. I’m sure they shook their heads and some even muttered something about “how I always knew he’d turn out this way.” As Robin Hood he was the leader of the disenfranchised, the friend of the abused poor. It helps to …

4. Get lots of exercise and fresh air. Robin and his men probably overdid this one. I like a walk in the woods as much as the next guy, but living in the forest would be a bit much for anyone. Unless you don’t have a choice. Which leads to …

5. Be willing to make changes in your life. If something isn’t working, look for a way to change. Robin Locksley could have returned as a knight to the Holy Land, gone off to London and looked up old friends, but he didn’t. He knew what he wanted to do, and that meant staying where he was and making changes. Which meant that he needed to …

6. Have a purpose. Everyone needs a purpose, a driving force. In the story of Robin Hood there were lots of people with purpose.
King Richard wanted to capture Palestine for Christianity. He fought for it. He bankrupted his kingdom for it. He didn’t get Palestine. He probably wanted glory and honor and immortality. He did get those things.
Prince John wanted to be king. He worked hard to undermine his brother while he was absent. He eventually succeeded.
We don’t really know how the rest of them turned out, although the story indicates that Robin Hood conquered The Sherriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne, was pardoned by the returned King Richard, married Marian and everyone lived happily ever after.
Robin Locksley wanted his estates back and his people free. Make no mistake. Once restored to his estates, he’d be lord of the manor again. I’m sure he’d rule fairly, but his days of sleeping on the ground in the forest would be over. His people would probably be as happy as serfs can be.
Maid Marian wanted Robin Hood. Maybe. I don’t really know. I can’t tell about women.
Friar Tuck wanted guaranteed food and drink. That’s probably why he joined the Church. If Locksley was restored, he could go to work in the manor church.
Little John wanted everyone to quit calling him “little.” They probably never did.

7. Surround yourself with happy people. There’s a reason Robin’s band of outlaws were called the Merry Men. Sad, disconsolate people will suck the energy from you. If one of the Merry Men got cranky, Robin Hood let him go. I have no idea where they went; Robin’s group was pretty much the bottom of the barrel socially. Which highlights another good point …

8. Be the boss. It’s good to be the boss, if you can do it. At the very least, aim for the ability to do what you love to do in life. Aim for happiness. Many people don’t get that chance until retirement, and then they die.

So go for a walk in the woods. Enjoy the outdoors. Do what you love with the ones you love. Go for happiness.

My favorite version of Robin Hood is in Shrek. "He keeps a wee percentage, but he's not greedy!"
And then Fiona kicks his butt. Priceless.

1 comment:

  1. As a final note, let me make myself perfectly clear. Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, but the money came from the poor to begin with – forcibly stolen money. That’s the key. I’m not happy when Robin Hood is portrayed taking money from honest merchants and giving that away. If that’s the case, then return the purchased goods. So-called modern “Robin Hood” plans target the wealthy to finance the government, which then allocates some of that back to the poor. That’s as much politics as I’m willing to discuss here.