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Life Lessons From Movies

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life_lessons_from_moviesMovies are storytelling media that rest our overheated minds, aching hearts, wearied souls, and battered bodies. They are an escape from reality inside a darkened screening room. Along the way, we encounter memorable lines that become nuggets of movie wisdom, which businessmen and investors can use as armor when they return to the battles of the day.


Movie legend Clint Eastwood has mastered the art of movie making. He sure knows how to dish out one liners like “Go ahead, make my day.” But I remember that, in Magnum Force, Dirty Harry muttered, “A man has got to know his limitations.”

Each of us has our inherent strengths and weaknesses. Unless we recognize them early by being self-aware, our hubris will make us complacent and we will end up going around in circles. If this happens, we will be unable to move closer to our goals as we try to hurdle our biggest stumbling block and most formidable enemy: ourselves.


In Gladiator, Maximus (played by Russell Crowe) asks Cicero “Do you find it difficult to do your duty?”

Cicero replies, “Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to do.”

I believe that 80% of the time, we do what we have to do. It’s called work, job, or responsibility. Doing what we want to do is play, leisure, retirement.

But then, if you can brainwash yourself into making yourself believe that your work is fun and is actually a nice way to rest or unwind, good for you! But bad for your family! There is a thin line between being responsible and being an unrepentant workaholic.


Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus (also in Gladiator) tells his father Marcus Aurelius, “You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues. Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But...”

If you want to be a leader, you know what? You need to be one. When voting for public servants or hiring your managers, you know what to look for. Keep in mind that the person you vote for or hire is a reflection of your own wisdom or lack of it. Let us not be misled by the showy, noisy promises of those with a hidden agenda. Instead, search for integrity.


Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather advises his nephew, “Never hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment.”

It is not impossible to control one’s emotions. You can choose to be happy, not sad; good, not bad; to love, not hate. But be careful lest you end up becoming more of a humanoid and less of a human being.


Martin Sheen as Carl Fox in Wall Street declares, “What you see is a guy who never measures a man’s success by the size of his WALLET!”

That got my attention more than Michael Douglas’ “Greed is good.” Let us not forget that money is not an end but merely a tool to get things done.

What is truly of value is not what you own, but what you have done. Let us not be blinded by single minded, naked ambition and materialism. Let us bask in the warmth of relationships and community.

As you near the end of your life’s journey, you will not be measured by how much you have but by how much you’ve done for others.

Print ed: 03/11


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