Screen stories that inspired success
From setup and rising conflict to the crisis and ultimate resolution, movies mirror our personal journeys in life and business. These top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles share the movie moments that inspired them to fulfill their greatest aspirations.
1. Be the hero.
I’ve seen “Armageddon” probably 12 times. Each time I cried. When Bruce Willis decides to sacrifice himself and detonate a thermonuclear bomb inside an asteroid, I say to myself: “I want to be a hero.”
Action always trumps talk. If you want to be a hero, you’ll have to do the hard things. You don’t have to die to be a hero; it may just be doing whatever it takes to increase your income and give your family a better life. Heroes do things that others won’t!
2. Wake up.
“The Matrix” inspired my great interest in the study of consciousness, mental development, and how emergent technology will impact what it means to be human in the future.
In a classic scene, Morpheus’ red pill would wake Neo up with knowledge of the “real reality,” free of illusions. The blue pill would keep Neo ignorant but blissful in his old belief system and mundane life experience. Neo takes the red pill. Once awakened, he can’t conceive of going back to ignorant sleep.
Since becoming a student of meditation in 1985, I’ve had experiences similar to this “awakening” metaphor. It’s now evident to me that we can live in more than one reality: an outer reality perceived by the senses and an inner reality perceived by intuition and spiritual insight. The inner reality can profoundly shape the outer—but only if we “take the red pill” of mental training and spiritual development.
3. Have a mentor.
Without a doubt, the movie that most changed my life was “The Karate Kid.” We can all relate to the young kid, Daniel, who has big hopes and dreams, spirit and energy but has no roadmap. Then he bumps into Mr. Miyagi, who becomes an unlikely mentor. His mentor pushes him in unconventional ways that test him.
I think all of us need to a Mr. Miyagi in our lives. After all, life lessons can come to you from unexpected sources, like the maintenance man.
4. Always be closing.
Whether you’re working the register at Kohl’s, selling cars, or a stay-at-home parent, everyone should remember that timeless phrase from “Glenngary Glenn Ross”: “Always be closing.”
I was recently at Kohl’s buying my daughter a pair of shoes for her Halloween costume. At the checkout line, the introverted, somewhat socially awkward kid noticed my “Game of Thrones” t-shirt. He commented on it and built instant rapport with me.
Processing my items, he asked if I wanted to open a credit account. I declined. He then explained all the benefits, and I declined again. He continued to bag my items before asking if I’d take a survey. I finally agreed. He then asked for my phone number and pulled up the survey site. “Right now?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied. As a salesperson, I loved the whole experience and kept agreeing to his requests.
Kudos to the Kohl’s training staff and clerk who served me. They extracted key data from me; the clerk benefited by meeting a quota and ultimately closed me on something.
5. Spend time with your family.
I’ve loved movies all my life, and many have shaped my mindset and decision-making processes. However, “The Godfather” series really added value to my life, particularly Don Corleone’s line: “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” Despite running my companies and trying to save the world, that line taught me to spend more time with my family.
Another great movie is “Guru,” India’s richest rags to riches story of the tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani. He went from dropout to the richest man in a country of 1.2 billion people. It showed me that if you believe in your dreams, you can achieve them regardless of circumstance.
6. Find your huckleberry.
One of my favorite movies is the 1993 cult classic, “Tombstone.” My favorite quote from the movie is when Doc Holliday (played by Val Kilmer) slurs to his enemy Johnny Ringo, “I’m your huckleberry.” This saying was common in the South at the time. It meant: “Name the place and I’ll go with you,” “Name the job and I can do it,” or, “I’m your man.”
The takeaway is that Doc Holliday was part of a team who shared a goal to bring law and order to Tombstone, Ariz. Johnny Ringo and his lawless gang stood in the way. Doc had tuberculosis and was very sick but completely committed to the cause and his team. Ultimately, he put the mission ahead of his health and went after Johnny Ringo. No excuses.
When I put a team together, I always look for players that are all in, like Doc. I choose people who are passionate. They’re committed. No Machiavellians allowed. These are tough individuals to find and hire, but they exist. Surround yourself with these kinds of team players who will stand beside you in battle. They’ll become “your huckleberries.”
7. Invest in loyalty.
The best relationships, both at work and at home, require the greatest of character traits: loyalty. With important relationships, the key is to have quality over quantity.
“I’d rather have one friend as loyal as Doc Holliday than 100 friends that don’t know what loyalty is.” This Wyatt Earp quote from “Tombstone” is a simple yet profound quote about the importance of significant relationships.
Trusted friendships that have intimacy and depth are the mainstays of creating a successful life. This applies to work friendships and non-work friendships alike. Remember this battle-tested life lesson of loyalty: find your Doc Hollidays and invest wisely in those friends.
8. Trust your intuition.
Although the movie “Heat” is about bank robberies, a core theme is work and professionalism. When offered the chance to attempt one highly risky last heist or walk away on top, the character played by Tom Sizemore responds: “For me, the action is the juice — I’m in.”
This quote can be applied in multiple ways in business or life: cut your losses when something becomes too complicated or choose a line of work that sets you on fire with excitement.
9. Have heart and persistence.
The movie “Erin Brockovich” impacted my mindset big time. One woman with heart and persistence takes down an entire company filled with people who were thought to be smarter, more educated, and more “valuable” to society than her.
The real difference between Brockovich and her adversaries had nothing to do with education or training. It had everything to do with her passion for justice, which prevailed over the obstacles in her way. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with a case, I remember the way to win is through persistence and heart.
—Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
10. Never ever give up.
This scene from “The Pursuit of Happyness” was game changing for me: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me… You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you ‘you can’t do it.’ If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”
The biographical drama is based on entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s one-year struggle with homelessness in the 1980s while raising his son. Motivated by his fierce commitment to his dream and duty to his son, Chris doesn’t take no for an answer.
Chris’s story taught me to never ever quit! When you pursue your big dream, everybody will tell you that your idea is bad and can never happen. You gotta prove them all wrong. Better to try and fail than to never try!
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Originally published on Entrepreneur.com. ©2017 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.