The easiest lessons to learn in life are the ones that are taught to you. The hardest lessons in life to implement are the ones that you are taught.
It’s been four years since Nucky Thompson walked into many of our lives. We’ve watched his rise, his troubles, his relationships, and his downfall, all from the comfort of our couches. As veterans, some of us might even feel like we relate to someone on Boardwalk Empire.
Anybody else feel like Jimmy Darmody’s trials in the beginning to become something in Atlantic City kind of mirrored our own?
So what are some of the most important lessons that all of us should have learned from Nucky Thompson and Boardwalk Empire?
When opportunities present themselves, don’t hesitate to take advantage of them.
Before Prohibition, Nucky Thompson was a simple Atlantic City Treasurer who led the Republican Party in Atlantic City. What we would see as his crimes today, were standard operating procedures for politicians and political machines for the majority of the American Republic. It was only when those oh so intelligent politicians in Washington D.C. decided to outlaw alcohol that Nucky really became something.
All success is part chance, part preparing yourself, and part having the courage to push forward and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Take stock of the situation before trying to control them.
Being a big-strong-badass might make you think that you could take anybody on in a jail cell. You might even think that the best person to try to dominate is the guy sitting on a bed, “reading” a book (remember Chalky was illiterate), who is wearing a bow tie.
In all or nothing situations, instead of rushing in to make your mark, first make sure that you understand all of the moving parts and can envision the possible outcomes.
Look to the future, but stay in the present
The Commodore dreamed of a shining city on the ocean that he controlled. Joe the Boss wanted to build an empire run only by Italians. Nucky looked for a way to get out of bootlegging and into legitimate business. So what happened? The Commodore ended up losing control of his city and went to jail, Joe the Boss was killed by his right hand man, and Nucky lost his bootlegging empire to a group of men who were all peons when Nucky was on top of the world. All of these men lost control of what they had, because they stopped living in the present and only planned for the future.
You always need to plan for the future, but make sure to keep a firm grip on the present as well.
You can’t be half of anything
Only four years ago a young Jimmy Darmody told a confused Nucky Thompson, “You can’t be half a gangster.” Jimmy was right and he eventually lost his life to a gangster and Nucky ended the series by losing his life when he no longer was anything.
In this world today many people believe that they can multitask their way through life. But the reality is, we have to be fully committed to whatever we are doing to be successful. That doesn’t mean we can’t do multiple things at the same time, it means that the multiple things that we are doing at the same time need to lead towards the same goal.
Life is made up of steps, not leaps
This season we were treated to the story of how Nucky rose from poverty to become the Sheriff of Atlantic City. His accession was part luck, part hard work, and part willing to do what needed to be done.
Shows like life have a habit of emphasizing the end result without fully recalling the means by which the end result was achieved. In our community we often times forget the steps that we had to take to get to where we are and look past the steps that others had to take to get to where they are. Remember, even Al Capone started off as Johnny Torrio’s driver.
Have a smile and a plan.
I could set up the scene for you, but this clip says it all. Remember positivity is both an important leadership trait and a characteristic that successful men and women share.