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3 Life Lessons From ‘Back To The Future’

I just happened to re-watch the ‘Back To The Future’ trilogy (1985-90) in the last few days.

It occurred to me that there are some very useful ‘Life Lessons’ that were taught in these movies when they came out all those years ago.

For those who don’t know, the trilogy is a Sci-Fi / Comedy where the principal characters – Marty McFly and ‘Doc’ Emmett Brown – go time traveling both to the past (1955, 1885) and the future (for them, 2015).

An important character is Biff Tannen and his ancestor Beuford ‘Mad Dog’ Tannen, who are Marty and Doc’s adversaries in all epochs.

This character is a grumpy, jealous and violent bully who blames everything and everyone but himself for his misfortunes. It is the classic ‘I’m a victim’ mentality.

In one scene, ‘Mad Dog’ blames Doc (who is a blacksmith in 1885) for badly shoeing his horse and then decides to shoot him.

The lesson here is that you’ll never succeed at anything if you play the victim.

The movies also have other lessons to be learned, particularly for the main character Marty.

No. 1 is ‘Stand Up for yourself, but watch your actions’. Every time Marty encounters Biff or Mad Dog, he wants to fight back. This works with Biff in 1955 but is fraught with problems in 1885 (Mad Dog is armed and dangerous).

Likewise in the ‘altered’ 1985 he almost gets into trouble with Needles, a contemporary of his who is almost a carbon copy of 1955 Biff. Fortunately he is saved from that mistake by knowledge picked up during his time travel experiences.

No. 2 is “You can be, do or have anything you want, so long as you put your mind to it‘. This phrase is uttered by Marty’s ancestor Seamus McFly. So often we go along in life simply ‘reacting’ to circumstances rather than ‘responding’ or even ‘creating’ them. The secret is in the mind!

No. 3 is ‘The future is not set in stone’ – The final utterances by ‘Doc’ in the 3rd movie are as profound as it gets. So many of us think we are tied into a movie script that has only one outcome. Yet we can change the outcome of our lives if we choose another paradigm to live by.

If you need to learn lessons about life, there is an abundance of it in good old fashioned story telling.