All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Cool Hand Luke

Forget self-help books or Tony Robbins seminars. Some of the best advice I've ever received is from the movie Cool Hand Luke.

If you haven't seen it, Paul Newman plays Lucas Jackson, a.k.a. "Cool Hand" Luke, an inmate at a Southern prison camp who refuses to, in the words of the warden, "Get his mind right." Through his contempt for authority and numerous escape attempts, Luke becomes the hero of his fellow inmates and a guru of sorts for the rest of us watching the movie.

Here are some of Luke's words of wisdom:

"Sometimes nuthin' can be a real cool hand." How Luke earns his nickname after bluffing his way through a poker game.

The Lesson I Learned: A little bit of confidence can go a long way. Lying is wrong (unless it's a game of poker), but self promotion isn't. Be sure and proud of yourself, your abilities, and your accomplishments.

"Callin' it your job don't make it right." Luke's answer to one of the guards when they throw him in "the box" because he might try to escape.

The Lesson I Learned: "Sorry, just doing my job" doesn't cut it. That was the heart of the Nuremberg Defense, which was rightly rejected. Don't let people hide behind rules when they're committing a wrong.

"I never planned anything in my life." This is Luke's response to another inmate who praises him for planning a daring escape.

The Lesson I Learned: Sometimes the best things in life happen when you least expect them. Love, friendships, children, job promotions; don't some of the greatest joys manifest when you don't plan them at all?

"What we've got here is failure to communicate." Perhaps the most famous line from the movie, and not actually spoken by Luke, but by the warden (Strother Martin) when Luke won't behave.

The Lesson I Learned: Sometimes it helps to try to see things through the other person's eyes. Walk a mile in their shoes. It doesn't mean give up or give in, but understanding is the first reasonable and enlightened step to resolving any conflict.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.


VMAs 2017