It may not be destined for the silver screen, but my life story has had its Horatio Alger moments. The lessons learned from my first jobs picking strawberries, washing dishes, and pumping gas gave me the drive to become the first boy in my family to graduate from college. After more work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck, I later became treasurer of the company now known as Macy's and a U.S. congressman.
As a congressman, I found myself in Shanghai pressing Chinese officials to lift trade restrictions on American goods, including the rule that allowed only 10 new American movie releases per year in China. They responded by questioning the quality of our movies.
I had to admit that Hollywood doesn't make more than 10 movies worth watching per year, but I told them that we bought a lot of crap from them and they should return the favor.
Despite the meaningless babble in most movies, Hollywood has produced at least 10 movie lines worth remembering that can provide guidance for success in life.
1) "What we do in life... echoes in eternity" -- Maximus in Gladiator
Life is so shallow without a belief in eternity. Live now in a way that you can live with in eternity. Have heroes. Be a hero.
2) Winston Churchill: "Thank you." Clemmie Churchill: "For what?" Winston: "For being rash enough to marry me, foolish enough to stay with me, and for loving me in a way... I though I'd never be loved." -- Winston and Clemmie Churchill in Gathering Storm
Get the big things right and the little things will follow suit. Besides your faith, nothing else is more important than choosing the right partner for life.
3) "Even though we got a fight ahead of us, we've got one thing that Voldemort doesn't have: something worth fighting for." -- Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There is no more potent fuel for success than to be passionate about advancing a worthy cause that leaves the world better than how you found it.
4) "You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." -- Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
There are multiple views of the correct answer to nearly every question. Always seek to explore every side to hone your own view and to be able to sell it to others.
5) "Bond. James Bond." -- Every James Bond movie
The secret of James Bond is not the actor who plays him, but his constancy. He is always dashing, mysterious, and drinking a martini that's "shaken, not stirred." Figure out who you are, solidify your brand and make sure that you always project that persona face to face, on social media, and everywhere else.
6) Peter Parker: "I don't need your help." Mary Jane Watson: "Everybody needs help. Even Spider-Man." -- Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Spider Man 3
Building a support network is essential to your success. Helping others to succeed is the best way to build a team that will propel you forward.
7) "Like us, there's more to them than meets the eye." -- Optimus Prime in Transformers
Everyone's soul is special. Treat everyone like his or her mother prays you would.
8) Lord Cutler Beckett: "You're mad!" Captain Jack Sparrow: "Well that's good cause if I wasn't, this'd probably never work." -- Cutler Becket and Jack Sparrow in Pirates of Caribbean: At World's End
You achieve nothing of consequence without taking a risk.
9) "Endure. Take it. They'll hate you for it, but that's the point of Batman. He can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make -- the right choice." -- Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight
Doing the right thing can be unpopular. It's important to recognize that it is impossible to do anything consequential in life without having people criticize you.
10) "From the ashes a fire shall be woken; a light from the shadow shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crown less again shall be King -- re-forge the Sword." -- Arwen in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The world does not offer a smooth path to achieving your goals. When you hit adversity, it is essential to re-forge your sword and prepare to climb back on the path to the end you seek.
Some of these lines may be easier to follow than others. However, heeding their advice will insure that you are always showing your best picture to others.
Hon. Mark R. Kennedy (@HonMarkKennedy) leads George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management and is Chairman of the Economic Club of Minnesota. He previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was Senior Vice President and Treasurer of Federated Department Stores (now Macy's).