You can learn some valuable life lessons from the 1972 epic The Godfather. Originally I read the The Godfather on summer vacation when I was about 20 years old. Soon after I watched the movie.
- Don’t burn bridges: In the opening scene, an undertaker who has disrespected the powerful Don Corleone has to come to him to ask for help avenging his daughter’s honor. Don Corleone could have ignored him, but he doesn’t. He explains to his old friend that of course he will help him, but reminds him that at some point in the future he may have to return the favor.
- Don’t take everything personally: As the drug trade arrives in post-war New York, the newcomer asks Don Corleone if he would like a piece of the action. The Don respectfully rejects the offer with a classic line. “I want to congratulate you on your new business and I’m sure you’ll do very well and good luck to you. Especially since your interests don’t conflict with mine.”. There is a thread that runs through the movie, “…it’s business not personal”
- Karma exists: Near the end of the movie, Michael Corleone figures out that the mole inside his family is his brother-in-law. He confronts him, “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattallgia. Moe Green. Slacci. Cuneo. Today I settled all family business so don’t tell me that you’re innocent. Admit what you did.” Nothing stays hidden forever.
- Don’t forget what’s most important: In one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Don Corleone’s godson asks for some help. Before he grants the favor, he checks in on Johnny’s priorities:
Don Corleone: Tell me, do you spend time with your family?
Johnny Fontane: Sure I do.
Don Corleone: Good. Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.
- Don’t take sides against the family: This was the scene that really stayed with me more than any of them… yes, even more than the horse head in the bed. Michael Corleone has taken over as the head of the family and goes to Las Vegas where is slightly dull brother Fredo sticks up for his pain-in-the-ass boss when his brother calls him on the carpet. “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.” The term family can mean any family, not just your biological family.
Ignore these 5 rules at your own peril.