Fight Club, an entertaining book and film has many teachings for life – not just on masculinity but also on self-improvement, motivation and making the most out of your potential.
One of the most compelling scenes is when Tyler Durden or the Narrator (depending on whether you are consuming the film or book version), puts a gun to convenience store worker Raymond K Hessel’s head and threatens to pull the trigger unless they go back on track to realising their potential.
The stories protagonists enact a very extreme way of encouraging someone to pull themselves together and stop wasting their potential. A near-life experience.
Fight Club quote, direct from the book by Chuck Palahniuk
“Listen, now, you’re going to die, Raymond K. K. K. Hessel, tonight. You might die in one second or in one hour, you decide. So lie to me. Tell me the first thing off the top of your head. Make something up. I don’t give a shit. I have a gun.
Finally, you were listening and coming out of the little tragedy in your head.
Fill in the blank. What does Raymond Hessel want to be when he grows up?
Go home, you said you just wanted to go home, please.
No shit, I said. But after that, how did you want to spend your life? If you could do anything in the world.
Make something up.
You didn’t know.
Then you’re dead right now, I said. I said, now turn your head.
Death to commence in ten, in nine, in eight.
A vet, you said. You want to be a vet, a veterinarian.
You could be in school working your ass off, Raymond Hessel, or you could be dead. You choose. I stuffed your wallet into the back of your jeans. So you really wanted to be an animal doctor. I took the saltwater muzzle of the gun off one cheek and pressed it against another. Is that what you’ve always wanted to be, Dr. Raymond K. K. K. K. Hessel, a veterinarian?…
So, I said, go back to school. If you wake up tomorrow morning, you find a way to get back into school.
I have your license.
I know who you are. I know where you live. I’m keeping your license, and I’m going to check on you, mister Raymond K. Hessel. In three months, and then six months, and then a year, and if you aren’t back in school on your way to being a veterinarian, you will be dead…
Raymond K. K. Hessel, your dinner is going to taste better than any meal you’ve ever eaten, and tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of your life.”
It’s almost poetic – if you were going to die, what would you wish you had done first?
I see a Raymond K Hessel everyday – he (or she) has usually quit and lives in a world of discontent of the position they are in.
Paradoxically they lack the motivation to do anything about their dire position and choose to settle for their bad life and complain about their fortune.
It’s not the fact they are a failure and quit that they are in the position they are in. It’s because they are unlucky, their face doesn’t fit or whatever million excuses they use for their laziness.
They ignore the fact that beyond working a job that doesn’t satisfy them, they still have remaining hours in the day to fulfil their potential.
Instead they choose to hang with loser friends, watch endless TV or play video games.
But there is another way – and it doesn’t involve having a Fight Club style enlightenment.
All it takes is starting action today – not tomorrow. Write down everything you want and from that make a plan, decide what is realistic, decide what your priorities are and set your goals.
Then with this start following good habits like reading, writing, fitness and nutrition.
Don’t settle for routine, don’t settle for wasted potential, don’t settle for less.
If you are a Raymond K Hessel what will it take for you to get up and do something? Hopefully not a near life experience or a Tyler Durden putting a gun to your head.
For more cinema Life Lessons, check out my articles: