Dracula

It’s about that time again, when we take a look at a classic novel and offer up some thoughts on the kinds of advice and lessons that can be gleaned from it.  Whether it was written 10 years ago or 100 years ago, books have a way of showing us the way.

Take vampires, for instance.  Thanks to cultural fares like the Twilight series, “Supernatural,” “True Blood,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” those undead bloodsuckers have become wildly popular today. But vampires have been around forever—pun intended—and can be found in stories and legends from every culture.  The biggest, most well-known vampire of all though is Dracula. He was the first, an original, and arguably the best.  And the lessons that can be found in his story are especially relevant today:

Communication is Key

It’s fairly late in the novel when everyone involved finally understands what’s been going on around them and what exactly they’re up against.  Had they kept everyone informed from the start, they may have been able to prevent Mina from being bitten and could have very likely saved Lucy.

Your communication skills may not do anything as drastic as save a life or Victorian London, but being able to talk to others and relay important information is serious stuff.  Maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends can be done through regular communication, and the work environment is one that is nearly dependent upon being able to interact with your co-workers.

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If you are trying to improve your communication skills at work, try one of these Five Ways to Communicate Better in Any Work Environment.

Utilize Everyone’s Strengths

Towards the end of the novel, a group forms with the goal of destroying Dracula’s safe spots in London and annihilating the vampire himself.  Each and every member of the group proves to be extremely valuable: Van Helsing has a ton of knowledge about vampires; Quincey is a brave, selfless man willing to hunt down Dracula to the ends of the earth; Jonathan has had prior experience with both Dracula and his castle and homeland; Mina can recall train schedules from memory and offers clues of Dracula’s travel progress; Arthur Holmwood is rich, which helps the group purchase supplies and enables them to travel; and Dr. Seward is a past student of Van Helsing’s who also has hunting experience.  Individually, they wouldn’t get very far.  But when they stick together and help each other they save themselves and London from Dracula’s eternal thirst.

Nobody is good at everything, but that’s why working with a group of people is usually so successful.  Whether it’s a work project or going on vacation with your family, when people come together and do what they’re good at, it benefits everyone.  The best part is that not everyone is good at the same thing.  Maybe you suck at cooking and you’re horribly unorganized, but you’re great with directions and can manage money like nobody’s business.  That’s awesome! As long as you do what you do best, everyone will win.

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Be Open Minded

You likely won’t be forced to deal with vampires anytime soon, but it still pays to keep an open mind.  Had the characters of the novel been close-minded and refused to believe that vampires are real, they would have watched their friends and themselves die or be turned into vampires.  Instead, they were willing to listen to each other’s ideas and allowed themselves to believe in something seemingly unreal or impossible.

This is an excellent practice to carry over into your own life.  You may not be forced to consider the existence of any supernatural beings or creatures, but a crucial part of successfully interacting with other individuals requires you to think about beliefs and perspectives you’ve never conceived of before.  This skill will help you immensely at work or school, not to mention your own personal relationship with friends and family.

Books can entertain us, take us to new places, and introduce us to people we’d never meet in real life.  And they’re also always around to guide us.  It doesn’t matter how old the book is or if it’s about things that don’t exist—they’re always something to be gained from reading.  So pick up a copy of your favorite read or something new and see what it teaches you!

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