Shyamalan’s “Signs” Provides a Lesson on How to Identify Your Dream Job (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

One of my favorite movies is Signs, a 2002 film by M. Night Shyamalan, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.  In the sci-fi thriller, aliens invade Earth in an attempt to take over the planet, and Gibson and Phoenix (brothers in the film) must find a way to save their family and the human race.

At the end of the movie, the aliens break into Gibson’s house.  However, when some water spills on one of the foreign beings (as pictured above), Gibson realizes that water is poisonous to them.  He then looks around his house and notices that his daughter has miraculously left glasses of water everywhere, a habit for which she had previously been scolded.  Gibson also remembers some of the final words uttered by his wife who had been killed in a horrific car accident several months earlier.  She had said to “tell Merrill to swing away.” 

Gibson then passes these words on to Merrill (the former baseball star played by Joaquin Phoenix).  His baseball bat conveniently happens to be mounted on the wall in the room where the showdown occurs.  As Phoenix grabs the bat and smashes the glasses, water is sprayed onto the aliens, and they are scared away for good.

I believe Shyamalan’s message is that everything happens for a reason and that the answers to our problems are often right in front of us. 

Gibson had not understood what his wife meant when she said to “tell Merrill to swing away,” and Gibson also didn’t know why his daughter kept leaving glasses of water around the house.  However, it all made sense in the end because it was part of the “master plan.”

I had my own “Signs” moment a few years ago when I was thinking of making a career change.  Before you think I’m crazy, I can assure you my experience did not involve any aliens!  Let me explain…

It was the evening of June 1, 2009, and I was frustrated and confused.  The year before, I had left my dream job in the NBA because I was ready for a new professional challenge.  However, the job I accepted had turned out to be a poor fit for my talents and passions.  It was clearly time for another change, but after an arduous process of self-reflection, career tests, and discussions with career counselors, I was still unsure what to do next.

Feeling defeated, I happened to glance at the book shelf in my bed room where I noticed over 100 books I had read for fun over the last few years on all sorts of topics related to personal and professional development.  I thought to myself how much I loved reading and studying those books.  Then, I thought to myself how cool it would be to have the same impact on other people that those authors had made on my life.


I then pulled out the dream job description I had created a few weeks earlier.  A career as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur would satisfy 16 of the 18 factors of my next dream job.   The results of the career tests I had recently taken also supported this revelation.

So, less than 1 month later, I resigned from my job and hired myself for my next dream job as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur.  While there have been many challenges with this transition, it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Like the glasses of water and baseball bat in the movie Signs, the answer to my problem (books and knowledge) was right in front of me in my house.  While I was reading all those books on personal and professional development, I had no idea why they fascinated me so much.  However, in the end, it all made sense.  I believe that I was born to be an author and a speaker and that I needed to read all those books to realize it.

Not sure what your dream job is?  Look around your living environment.  The clues for your dream job might be right in front of you as well…

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Author, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak nationwide to groups of students and young professionals.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to

Explore posts in the same categories: Get Your Dream Job NOW, Self-Reflection

One Comment on “Shyamalan’s “Signs” Provides a Lesson on How to Identify Your Dream Job (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)”

  1. Hi Pete:

    I enjoyed your post, in part because I had the same kind of ‘aha moment’ and also at about the same time as you.

    As well, I loved the hyper-meaning in SIGNS, a great movie.

    I always took the message from that movie to be one of hope, which is that if you believe in a little magic, expect a little magic, magic shows up for you.

    Best, J

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