I was listening to a couple of friends talking about some of their favorite shows recently when it occurred to me they were really talking about business lessons they had gleaned from those shows. I immediately thought, “What a fun and interesting take this would be to write about!” So, this week let me share some of my own personal favorite quotes from a few specific actors. These are in no particular order. Each has either a great and very practical lesson on operations of a business or a lesson in business ethics.
One of the greatest things about this series is that the character, Jesse Stone, has a multitude of flaws! He is so utterly human and down to earth and barely hanging on to his sanity some days. Sounds like many a business person I know! Yet throughout the series I have found great and simple wisdom born from obvious experience of the ages. Here are a few that should be “food for thought.”
Episode: Stone Cold
Chief Jesse Stone: Suit. Write me up statement for the local paper about how we have this all under control.
Luther 'Suitcase' Simpson: Me?
Chief Jesse Stone: Yeah, you're good at that.
Luther 'Suitcase' Simpson: I am?
Remind those around you of their skills and encourage them to use them. It helps to not only develop those skills but improve your working relationships.
Episode: No Remorse
Chief Jesse Stone: You're supposed to be on medical leave.
Commander Healy: Actually, I am on medical leave. I'm just taking it at the office.
Sometimes we have to go above and beyond the simple call of duty. However, be careful with this and certain you actually need to be the one to do the job at hand. Ask yourself if there is anyone you can delegate to and if not, on occasion, you may have to make the sacrifice to attend to the matters yourself.
Episode: Night Passages
Jesse Stone: Molly, can I get a cup of coffee?
Molly Crane: If you make it.
A good reminder of two lessons! The first: do not take employees for granted and expect them to “serve” you. The second: be assertive enough to simply state your boundaries. The great thing about this passage is that it illustrates the beginning a professional relationship that is based on respect, thanks to Molly drawing the line early on.
Tom Hanks Roles
There are so many roles to choose from with Tom Hanks! These are two of the best in my book!
Chuck Noland: Let's not commit the sin of turning our back on time.
What a lesson to keep in the forefront of our minds! As learned from this movie, sometimes an event will happen, which we have absolutely no way of predicting or preventing, which completely alters our path in life. Instead of putting off things thinking you have all the time in the world to get to them, prioritize them now and don’t wait till it is too late for you to do anything about them. You may wait too long and the opportunity is lost forever.
Jimmy: “If it was easy everyone would do it.”
This is a great quote to use when there are challenges that seem overwhelming! Remember that you have your position because you are proficient and respected for your abilities. When times get tough, remind yourself of this!
Patrick Swayze Roles
Patrick Swayze was taken from us way to soon, in my opinion! He had a way of portraying characters that went right to the heart of matters. Here are two of examples that are note-worthy in their lessons.
Dawson: “Be nice. Be nice until it is time to not be nice.”
When asked how they would know when it was time to not be nice, Dawson says, “You won’t. I’ll let you know. You are the bouncers and I am the cooler.”
This is an excellent example of role definition and of understanding that there will be times when you have to take a hard stance in business. Dawson is very experienced in his career and is not afraid of letting this show through. Remember, leaders have to lead before they will be followed.
Sam: “The love we feel we take with us.”
This line is near the end of the movie and is a great reminder that no matter how much material accumulation we achieve, we don’t get to take it with us. It is much more important to take the integrity, respect and concern for others into account, rather than just how much material gain will be achieved.
I was chatting with co-workers about this blog and mentioned there were probably great business lessons in almost every movie I could think of. So, I decided to try the theory out and asked some of them to give me the names of their favorite movies. Here’s what I came up with!
Don Corleone: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Hardly even needs an explanation for most people. The meaning is a little deeper than just friends and enemies for me. I think it is also a great reminder to get to know your competition just as well as you know your own company. Never get too complacent in your success that you forget that others always have their eyes on your clients and are just as determined to take them as you are to keep them.
Andy Dufresne: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Some business people get so wrapped up in their work they forget what they are really working for. Before they know it they have existed an entire lifetime without really understanding they were supposed to work to live, not live to work! Another aspect of this quote is that no matter what your position, you have a choice on how to approach it: positive or negative.
Andy Dufresne: I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.
This is taken from the scene where Red is reading the letter Andy left for him to find in a place know only to the two of them. Red came looking for the letter purely on faith. The two of them had built a strong relationship in the most terrible of situations. Reminding and encouraging Red to hang on to the hope that had brought him this far was just what Red needed. This is powerful reminder that we need to all be supporting each other in business relationships and to count on each other to be available for those times when hope is tested. Go just a little further for each other and watch what you get from the effort!
The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.
The lesson here reminds us that if you do not take the time to be patient with people you may get results but they may not be the greatest possible solutions available had you let them work just a little bit longer. Remember that the people you have in your company were hired for their talents and abilities. Trust them to utilize them in the most productive manner.
Enemy at the Gates
Danilov: I've been such a fool, Vassili. Man will always be a man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there'd be nothing to envy your neighbour. But there's always something to envy. A smile, a friendship, something you don't have and want to appropriate. In this world, even a Soviet one, there will always be rich and poor. Rich in gifts, poor in gifts. Rich in love, poor in love.
One of the lessons here is: human is as high as we get and we will always be flawed. Remember that values are different for every person you meet. No matter how good your intentions, do not try to change theirs… simply try to live by your own!
I could go on and on and may return to this topic in the future but I think I have proven the point that started this article: business lessons can indeed be gleaned from nearly every movie seen, if you look for them! I would enjoy hearing your responses to these insights. I would also love hearing what some of your favorite business lessons from movies are!