AMC’s Breaking Bad has been a hit among audiences, and one Brazen Careerist writer has even found career lessons from the popular show. The Emmy award-winning drama centers around protagonist Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife and son and is living on the edge, with a new sense of fearlessness, after being diagnosed with cancer. The story follows his venture into an underworld of drugs and crime, all in a plight to spend his last days to the fullest and ensure his family’s financial well-being upon his death—turning him from mild-mannered family man into drug kingpin.
You might not want to exactly mimic some of the tactics of Mr. White, but here are two top lessons from the show that can help any professional continue pressing toward their dreams—which we all hope are legal and safe:
You are who you say you are.
Walt first dubs himself “Heisenberg” in the episode where he shaves his head, confronts local drug lord Tuco and makes it clear (via surprise explosive device) that he isn’t to be messed with, Kelly Gurnett writes. It’s one of the first times we see Walt fully embrace his darker ambitions — he’s not just doing this for his family; part of him loves the power and fame, and he’s officially declaring his pursuit of that. As the debris settles, we as an audience know that he’s rounded a corner, and the streets of Albuquerque know there’s a new kingpin in town.
Whether you’re a meek chemistry teacher, an entry-level clerk or a college dropout turned startup owner, you create your own destiny by acknowledging your goals and going after them full-throttle. It doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t take you seriously at first; they will once you show them what you’re made of. Believe in the potential within yourself, act like you’ve already made it, and the world will start to respect.
There’s always a way out.
Cops impound your car containing a laptop full of incriminating evidence? Get a gigantic magnet and erase that evidence in a way no one will believe actually happened. Kidnapped in the desert for days and not sure how to explain your absence to your family? Strip naked in a convenience store and pretend you’ve been in a cancer-induced fugue state the whole time.
The lengths to which Walt will go —and his utter refusal to believe he’s ever painted into a corner—are pretty damn impressive, and one of the reasons fans admire his ingenuity, even as they denounce his actions. He will not be stopped. He will not be beaten. While each cliffhanger episode leaves you full of dread and anticipation, you always secretly know that somehow, Walt will find a way out of it.
If you can be as fearless and daring in your boss moves, you might find ultimate fulfillment and purpose —and ultimately job satisfaction and wealth. Take a cue from a man with little or nothing to lose that life can be too short to waste not living it to your fullest professional potential.