The other night I was replaying the epic season finale of HBO’s Board Walk Empire in my head and I realized I was reminded of a few life lessons along the way.
1. Gyp Rosetti: Don’t be afraid to take risks
New York Gangster Gyp Rosetti blew through Atlantic City like hurricane Sandy, causing equivalent devastation to everyone in his path. His ambition, fearless attitude and laser focus on taking everything from Nucky Thompson enabled him to obtain quite a bit of power albeit short-lived. Even when Gyp realizes his reign of terror is over, rather than quitting, he is able to look ahead to his next opportunity stating, “I came here with nothing. How do you lose what you never had? Start over. It’s what this country’s all about, right?”
Taking risks means pushing yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable. With every risk brings opportunity for success and the possibility of failure. But the real failure is in letting your fears stop you from attempting to accomplish your goal. And if things don’t turn out the way you expected, at least you can take comfort in knowing that there is no limit to the number of times you can try. (Unless your goal is to see how many flavors of ice cream you can sample at Cold Stone Creamery. That limit is 5—trust me on this.)
2. Chalky White: Sometimes you have to lose it all to realize what’s really important.
After a season of plotting to take what’s his, Nucky’s enemies have his back up against the wall. Left with only the clothes on his back and his loyal assistant Eddie wounded, he has no choice but to turn to his “colored” ally Chalky White for help. During this ordeal, Nucky realizes that he has been so self-absorbed, he doesn’t even know if Eddie has any family or Chalky’s phone number. After Chalky gives Nucky a (presumably long) ride in the back of a hot, dirty truck, they arrive at a warehouse. The men share some day old bread when Chalky says, “All it takes, ain’t it? Go without, see what you really need.” Later when his brother Eli returns with an army of support, Nucky realizes that although he has lost everything that he thought was important, his true friends never left.
We all go through times in life. Rather than focus on what you have lost, concentrate on what you have left. When you do, you realize that what you have “lost” are unimportant material things that can be replaced. It might be hard to believe, but things could always be worse. Through it all, your family and true friends will be there to support you and that is irreplaceable.
3. Nucky Thompson: It’s amazing what we can achieve when we work together.
When Nucky’s army arrives from Chicago (led by Al Capone) there is immediate friction with Chalky’s crew. Racial tension runs high as threats swing back and forth and eventually lead to several physical altercations. Nucky sternly reminds them to focus on the task at hand and they quickly put differences aside. Together, they set out on a mission to set a trap for Masseria’s crew. After the deed is successfully done, Chalky and Al exchange a pleasant nod of respect before Al heads back to Chicago.
From school projects to work collaborations to team sports, working in a group is almost unavoidable. At some point, you will be forced to work with others to achieve a common goal. And sometimes—okay most times, there will be at least one person that somehow knows how to push every button you have. Rather than let the group dynamic get to you, try to focus on similarities rather than differences. You don’t have to like someone to work with them. Just remember that you are all working toward achieving a common goal. Mutual respect and hard work will inevitably lead to success.
Who knew gangsters were so profound?