Kung Fu Panda and Value of Belief in Leadership

Anmol Mohan

"To make something special, you just have to believe it's special."
– Mr. Ping

Spoiler Alert: Major Kung Fu Panda I spoilers ahead.

On the exterior, it might look like Master Oogway was some psychic. How did he know Po is the one? How did he know Master Shifu can pull it off? How did he know there are no accidents?

The answer is he didn't. In this article, I will argue how we can channel adverse conditions like doubt into positive energy to win in an impossible situation. There is a lesson to be learned about Leadership here.

But before that, lets clear some assumptions which will help me make my point later.

  • There were accidents

Master Oogway did not know that Po will fall from the sky. He had no idea what kind of a person Po will turn out. He could not plan for Shifu to train Po within a matter of days. All of that was just an accident. But the endowment to turn random events into your advantage lies within you, as we will see later.

  • Nothing is not nothing

This is probably the easiest one. There was no secret ingredient. There was no strength in the scroll. But all of that played a pivotal role in their lives. So you cannot deny that they did not add value.

Movies inspire us every day; Music brings emotions, and Paintings take us far away from our misery. A lot of life is an illusion, but they are all there for a reason. We need the ability to embrace them without getting swayed away from reality. More in that later.

  • Master Oogway knew Tai Lung is inevitable

Oogway always knew Tai Lung would come one day. He was hoping that Master Shifu will be able to create a dragon warrior who will protect the valley. But Master Oogway saw Tai Lung and his abilities. He knew that Master Shifu has not been able to top himself.

He knew that no prison could hold Tai Lung. When he heard the news, he was not shocked. He knew that Tai Lung would come and destroy everything. Due to lack of any viable solution, and he took one last gamble as he had made peace with inevitability already.

  • Master Shifu was the real dragon warrior

Master Oogway knew that the only person who can stop Tai Lung is Master Shifu. He knew nobody that Master Shifu has trained is confident enough. It is evident from their conversation before choosing the Dragon Warrior.

"Are your students ready?" He knew the status very well.

"Whoever I will choose will not bring peace to the valley, but also to you." Master Oogway said to Master Shifu. He knew that Master Shifu had lost his confidence after Tai Lung's exile. Love blinded him from seeing the truth. Once Tai Lung was gone, he just removed Love from his teachings as he blamed his feelings for letting his master down.

Master Oogway was a great leader. He knew nothing exceptional could be created without committing your heart and soul to your work. He knew that the problem is not in the students, its in the teacher.

Given the inevitability of Tai Lung's arrival, Master Oogway knew that only Master Shifu could stop him and bring peace. He was not sure how to, it could have been through love or war. But he wanted to send Master Shifu on a path of self-discovery.

He wanted to give him a completely new challenge so that Master Shifu can come out of his comfort zone and see things with a fresh perspective.

  • Destination is a necessary illusion

This theme is continuously repeated in the movie and sits at the heart of it.

We all set out on a path, looking for a destination. It is necessary to get us moving. Because without moving, we cannot achieve anything.

But the destination is just a mirage. People discover a lot about themselves on their journey, and eventually, they create their paths. That's why there are no clones of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. They have inspired millions of people, but everyone has to find their own paths.

When Master Shifu is training Po by enticing him with dumplings, he keeps eating them when only one is left. Po is super motivated to get that last dumpling and fights his heart out to get it. He acquires the skills that he never even dreamt of learning. He perceives that sense of achievement, and suddenly the prize of dumpling seems so ordinary in comparison. He says: "I am not hungry."

Tai Lung was motivated by the desire to get the scroll, which had nothing in it. How did Master Oogway know that Tai Lung is not ready? He was the greatest warrior ever.

Master Oogway knew that despite all his technical abilities, he has not fallen in love with himself. He is still motivated by the destination of getting the scroll, which is just an illusion. He does not have the humility and wisdom to deal with the truth.

Lesson: Everyone is the one

Series of Events:

  • Master Oogway decided to give one last challenge to Master Shifu so that he can discover his lost mojo. He chose to believe in Master Shifu's abilities.
  • Po fell out of the sky. Master Oogway knew he is an enthusiastic, uncomplicated person who is passionate about Kung Fu. He believed passion and honesty is all that is needed for a person to turn into the best version. He did not know if the best version of Po will be enough, but he was counting on the best version of Master Shifu.
  • Master Oogway removed doubts from Po's innocent mind by giving him a direction of living in the moment. Master Oogway made him believe in himself.
  • Master Shifu kept going back to Master Ooogway for solutions. Hence, Master Oogway removed himself from the equation so that Master Shifu is forced to believe in himself.
  • With no choice left, Master Shifu did whatever he could, and after some positive feedback, he started believing, not just in Po but in victory.


Belief is just a choice. Everyone is born with the ability to fulfill their destinies. We keep looking outside to make us realize our potential.

Belief inspires belief. If someone believes in you, it generates a self-belief in you to run. A lot of things need to align to achieve great things. But you never know until you take that first step.

Keep believing in yourself and others. It is not just a philosophy; it is a management strategy.

Movie Analysis

Anmol Mohan

I am just trying to make sense of this world. I am interested in the hardest puzzles like Consciousness, Humanity and Multiverse. Sharing my honest learning during this journey.