Five Essential Life Lessons You Can Learn From Movies

by BGollihue

We all know that movies are great entertainment, but can they actually teach you how to live your life better? Here are five essential life lessons from the movies.

Lights! Camera! Live Better?

What movies can actually teach us.

On this page, I'll cover five essential life lessons that I've learned from movies, and how they can work for anyone.  

I would like it noted before we begin, there is a very big difference between learning a lesson from a movie and becoming infatuated with it (Star Wars/Star Trek fans, I'm looking at you). Even becoming infatuated with something is perfectly normal (as long as infatuation doesn’t turn to obsession). Just remember that, in the end, no matter how profound or life changing, these are just movies. 

So, with all that being said, here are the five lessons (in no particular order). 

“It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business”

From The Godfather

For anyone to be successful in business (or life for that matter), this is an important one to remember. In my early days as a consultant, I would see owners and managers who were reluctant to do the things that needed to be done in order to improve their business, simply because they didn’t want to inconvenience their employees. 

While there is something admirable about that sentiment, it’s important to remember that no one part is bigger than the whole, so there will come times when you’ll need to make tough (and sometimes painful) decisions for the good of the business. 

“Never Leave Your Wingman”

From Top Gun

While this can also apply to friendship and personal loyalties, the context of the lesson is about teamwork. In the movie, Tom Cruise initially abandoned his wingman in pursuit of personal glory. The result… they both died. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is that, when you are part of a team (or company, or a couple, even family), you succeed, or fail, together. This is a lesson that was driven home during my time in the Army, but it’ll always be Michel Ironside’s voice in my head.

“Sometimes, You Just Have To Say…”

From Risky Business

Aside from being a great life lesson, this also happens to be my personal motto. For those of you who may not know, the actual quote is: “Sometimes you just have to say: ‘what the f*ck’. What the f*ck brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future”. All of the best things in my life have come from things I did when I just said: “what the f*ck” and took a chance. 

The biggest of these moments being the spur of the moment trip to Israel I took with some friends where I met an amazing, intelligent, and insanely beautiful redhead working at the hotel we were staying at (and that kids, is how I met your mother). If I hadn’t seized that opportunity, I can’t imagine what my life would be like now. 

“You Fight The Fights That Need Fighting”

From The American President

This is another important life lesson that everyone needs to learn (especially, in my opinion, a certain group of people working in Washington D.C.). In life, you can’t always pick your battles. Sometimes there are things that you’ll have to do, simply because they need to be done. Now while this lesson deals with the larger, more complex issues we face, it can also fit the smaller day to day aspects of our lives. 

“Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try”

From The Empire Strikes Back

This is a great lesson for anyone, and one that I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to impart to my kids. Anything in life that you do, you can only do well if you commit to actually doing it. Now I know that’s a little confusing, so I’ll explain, and to do so, I’ll use a popular topic (and one I’ve written a great deal about): making money online. 

Failure is seductive. Because it’s easy, failure will tempt you every step of the way. You’ll start rationalizing all the reasons to give up, and start redefining what “success” actually is (“I may not have hit my goal of doing ‘X‘, but at lest I made the effort”). This is a cop out, and a pretty pitiful one at that.

As I mentioned in one of my other pages (Three Things Tabatha Coffey Can Teach You About Making Money Online), education can only get you so far. At some point, you actually have to do the work in order to have any type of success. This is something that I work on with clients all the time. Simply saying: “I’ll give it a shot”, or “I’ll try” isn’t good enough. You need to commit to success before you begin, otherwise you will fail. 

Bring Home Some Great Movies

Who Knows, You Might Learn A Few Things

Tell Us Your Most Profound Life Lesson...

So there we have it, five essential life lessons, all learned from the movies. If you have any profound lessons that you’ve learned from a movie, now’s your chance to share it with the rest of us. 

Updated: 04/08/2012, BGollihue
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Mira on 08/06/2012

Hi BGollihue, I enjoyed your article. That "Try not" piece is very good advice, even though our endeavors don't pan out all the time -- but I, too, think it's important to put in your best effort if you want to have a chance at the level of success you envision.

emeraldmile on 07/27/2011

Never leave your wingman is a personal favorite of mine. Top Gun is a great movie. Words to live by.

kajohu on 07/22/2011

I enjoyed reading your 5 life lessons as learned from the movies. All five make sense to me, but my favorite is Yoda's "Try not....", partly because I'm a big Star Wars fan, but also for the thought itself.

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