Some of the wisest, truest words ever spoken have come not from motivational speakers, but from characters in motivational movies. In fact, if you’re looking for the courage to take risks or make positive changes in life, you needn’t look further than Netflix or your DVD collection. Cinematic history is filled with exhilarating scenes like the training montage in Rocky and the desk-standing salute to Mr. Keating in Dead Poets Society. But the most inspirational and educational words are often simple, powerful, and spoken by dynamic movie characters. Everyone can learn a little something from these famous nuggets of cinematic wisdom.
“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
Professor John Keating’s first lesson to his students in Dead Poets Society wasn’t about poetry, but about the legacy of the students who came before them—students who were now “fertilizing daffodils,” as he put it. Their legacy was to live life to its fullest, even if that meant opting out of the status quo and choosing a more meaningful path. We only have one life to live; why not do the best we can with the time we’ve got? Keating never wanted his students to give up their dreams, and because of his sage presence in their lives, they never wanted to let him down.
“Do … or do not. There is no try.”
Yoda had a peculiar way of structuring sentences, but that didn’t make his words any less affecting. While instructing young Luke Skywalker on the ways of a Jedi Master in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tries to prevent his protégé from becoming too frustrated and quitting. A crucial part of Luke’s training involved his letting go of his perceived limitations and unlocking his telekinetic skills via the Force. Luke responded to Yoda’s instructions by saying he would “try” to move things with his mind alone; to this, Yoda gave his disdainful reply. To Yoda, the word try justified potential failure. In other words, just do it. There is no success without confidence.