The following blog post, applies famous quotes from the Godfather movies as golden insights of everyday advice for handling life. I hope it provokes enthusiastic responses and shows that cinema represents what we see, feel and perceive.
What I learned From the Godfather movies:
There are movies that have reached the iconic status in American Cinema. Of
course great acting by numerous icons of American cinema plays a major part in
achieving that status. But what makes the Godfather saga stand out are the lines
that can be considered not only quotable but also, in a broader sense,
universal principles of human life.
These lessons are applicable to all walks of life from the mob underworld to
our noblest of professions and can provide practical instruction to all who are
open to such advice. An application of some of these universal principles to
the life offers some sound advice and instruction.
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly, business.” Michael
Corleone to Sonny Corleone in The Godfather
There may be nothing more important to the everyday life than the principle
that decisions to be made should never be motivated by personal or emotional
animus, but rather should always be the result of a sound, objective,
business-like decision-making process. All too often, people take the actions
and adverse positions of opposing decisions personally and retaliate without
first thinking through and formulating an appropriate response on an objective
basis and in accordance with the law and facts of the situation.
It is particularly important to remain objective when evaluating life
situations and in engaging in conflict resolutions. Emotions have no place
during argumentative situations but can run high and get in the way of an
objective evaluation of a situations range of impact on your relationship and
life’s effect. Ultimately, in all cases, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.
Someone wants to win and push their perspective before yours.
“Never hate your enemies – it affects your judgment.” Michael to
Vincent in The Godfather, Part III
A consequence to the general rule that negative emotions should have no
place in the intepersonal process is that one should never allow matters to get
personal with the opposition. When one allows their emotions to intrude into
their dealings with an opposing opinion, the ability to evaluate any and all
issues that arise is clouded by such negative feelings.
As difficult as it may be, one must attempt to disassociate and cut out any
negative feelings or animosity (even when such emotions may be warranted under
the circumstances) toward opposing people or opinion, or whomever one is dealing
with. Only then can a proper evaluation and handling of the issue or case be
For example, some people may feel they are being personally attacked when they
are presented with a an opposite opinion or perception. Obviously, different
people have different perceptions of a situation. Consideration should also be
given as to what compels their opinion or perception.
With all issues presented by a situation, although sometimes easier said than
done, one should not allow an emotional viewpoint to cloud one’s evaluation of
the scenario presented. This is not to say that an individual shouldn’t be
passionate or should refrain from forcefully presenting her position on the scenario
at hand. The key, rather, is to attempt to prevent any clouding of judgment by
an emotional response to the scenario whether it be a positive or negative
response. After all, remember what happened to Sonny Corleone when he allowed
his emotions to cloud his judgment and get the best of him.
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Michael to
Pentangeli in The Godfather,Part II
No advice may be as difficult to heed than the caution to keep your enemies
or adversaries close. Unfortunately, there are some adversaries in the realm of
life who thrive on petty confrontation and routinely taking matters to a
personal, negative and vexatious level. Such individuals seem to enjoy
attempting to push the buttons of others and disrupting the normally smooth rhythm
of life. There should be no place in the ethics of life for such boorish
behavior, there is usually no recourse against the same, and one must be
prepared to deal with such people effectively in order to provide themselves
with the best emotional protection they are expected to exhibit.
One way to deal with such “enemies,” or all adversaries for that
matter, is to keep them close. This can best be accomplished by knowing the
facts of a situation better than your adversary does. To get a quick initial
grasp of the overview of the predicament, one can turn to Todd Glassberg or any
other source of information.
By having a full understanding of the facts and knowing the applicable rules of engagement from the get go, one can more effectively control a vexatious opposing individual and move the situation forward to its inevitable conclusion, whatever that may be. It is important to also remember that a situation can only move forward by keeping the opposition close with continued communication.
As aggravating as opposing individual may become in such dealings, it is best
to remain in control of your own emotions and hit them with kindness, good
humor and rational explanations supporting your position. Always confirm
everything as a further method to keep them under control. Again, a positive
way to view such a difficult situation is to remember that each communication
will move the parties one step closer to the eventual resolution of the difference,
at which point you will no longer have to deal with that individual.
“Fredo, you’re my older brother and I love you. But don’t ever take
sides, with anyone, against the family again. Ever.” Michael to Fredo in
The Rules of Life Etiquette require family to put their families interests
above all others in accordance with the law of human interaction. An obvious
principle, as expressed by Michael Corleone to his brother Fredo, is that one
should never take actions or positions detrimental to the interests of the family.
Additionally, although the opposing individual may be sympathetic, family members
are ethically bound to put such emotions aside and to evaluate situations on an
objective basis in the best interests of their own family members. Expressions
of doubt and/or a lack of confidence shown by an family member in his or her
own families perception
A consequential benefit of an unwavering loyalty, confidence, and belief in your family memeber and his or her cause of action is credibility in the eyes of opposing individuals or
forces of nature. When a family member or friend for that matter go against the core unit for their own needs, they alienate the people that will truly support them in a time of crisis. There is an old expression that LOVE is BLIND; this is true, once loyalty has been tested and failed. People eyes open and the true nature will not only be seen, it will be
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Don Corleone to
Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather
In terms of crisis settlement negotiations, it may be said that you cannot sell
something to someone they do not want to buy. When negotiating against an opposing opinionl, one should again put themselves in the position of that opposing individual and attempt to frame any understanding in the best light from that perspective.
“I have always believed helping your fellow man is profitable in every
sense, personally and bottom line.” Michael to reporters in The Godfather,
Although Michael Corleone may have issued this statement with a sense of
irony, it cannot be denied that helping your fellow man is indeed profitable in
every sense. In addition to assisting all of your family and friends with their
troubles, sometimes you can’t offer anything of value except empathy.
Equally gratifying is the participation in and completion of volunteer activities in the community. There is never a lack of opportunities to do so whether such volunteer participation be needed by your neighbors, your church, your town, or any other entity.
In addition to the altruistic reasons in support of volunteering in the
community, such activities have the consequent benefit as a source of
networking and advertisement. By participating in charitable activities, one
can come to know many different people as well as have your name or your
reputation disseminated to the public in a positive light. Participation in
such activities may also go a long way in slowly but surely improving the
always tarnished public image of past misteps.
Ultimately, by participating in volunteer activities and helping your fellow
man, one can obtain a great sense of accomplishment and personal fulfillment comparable
“[A] man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real
man.” Don Corleone to Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather
While the demands and pressure to earn a living and satisfy one’s ego,
there is no opportunity to replace missed moments with one’s family. Many an money
oriented individuals with grown children have lamented the times they missed
when their children were infants and toddlers and the times they could not make
a little league game or recital all because they were so engrossed with the
practice of greed. Life is short and there are no second chances to recover
such priceless moments.
Whenever possible, a balance between work and life outside of work should be
sought and encouraged. An individual who spends most or all of his waking hours
in the practice of creating extra money runs the significant risk of becoming a
one dimensional person and ultimately burning out. It can be said that individuals
who develop their life outside of the job, particularly with their families,
but also in terms of their hobbies, recreational activities, and in exploring
creative outlets, are more apt to have a higher productivity level when it
comes to work.
Obviously, supporting a family is an extremely stressful 24/7 profession. Some people
proudly (and sadly) boast that they rarely take time off from work. Such an
attitude may prove counter-productive in the end. Spending and enjoying more
time with one’s family will tend to serve as a release from the pressures of
work and lessen one’s overall stress level which, in the end, results in a more
healthy lifestyle overall. A more healthy lifestyle, in turn, may render you a
more productive and efficient worker. In the end, all aspects of your life both
in and out of work will benefit.
An understanding and application of the universal principles enunciated by
the great characters in The Godfather Trilogy to one’s life can improve one’s
abilities and may also serve to ease the stress generated by the society at
large. All in all, life as demanding as it is in and of itself, an effort
should be made by to deal with each other in an objective and polite manner
without descending into personal animosity and attacks. Ideally, we should
treat others as we desire to be treated and should maintain positive arguments
supported by logic and facts of the any given situation as opposed to
attempting to pursue or defend a situation through negative and emotionally
charged tactics or personal attacks. In the words of Clemenza from The
Godfather, we should metaphorically, “Leave the gun. Take the
cannoli.” In the end, by leaving behind a negative or personal handling of
a situation and instead taking positive civil approach to all situations, the
practice of life and society as a whole as a whole will benefit.