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How to Break from the Norm | Breaking Bad

An Inspiring and Cautionary Tale of One Man’s Life Track

Walt: Chad, keep your hands to yourself please. Is there something wrong with your own table?

Chad sighs heavily and drags his stool back to his table. Doing so, he makes as much noise as he can.

Walt: Alright, ionic bonds. Chapter six.

Walt drones on as the students doodle or talk amongst themselves.

The bell rings. School let’s out.

But instead of going home, Walt drives to his second job.

He works extra hours at a carwash so his family can stay above water.

As he’s bent over washing the tire of a corvette the owner of the car walks over… turning out to be one of his students…

Chad: Hey, you missed a spot.

Walt looks back down. Resigned.

Walt’s workday finally comes to an end as he heads home to his son and pregnant wife.

Wife: Your not going to paint?

Walt: I’ll paint. {mumbles on about other responsibilities}

Wife: It’s just that I really need you to paint at some point. The sooner that back bedroom gets finished… And I would do it myself but you don’t want me standing on the step ladder.

This was a typical day for Walter White until…

A few days later he receives life threatening news — lung cancer. Stage 3. Best-case scenario, with chemo, he’ll live another two years.

Society gives us a default track: Go to school, go to college, get a job in an organization or corporation, get married, have kids, retire.

There’s nothing wrong with this track if you choose it.

But too many people simply live it because they are too afraid to choose anything else.

People live to minimize the downside instead of maximize the upside. This is part of our human survival instinct.

People often live their fears instead of their desires, the “what if” over the “why the hell not”.

“I have spent my whole life scared, frightened of things that could happen, might happen, might not happen, 50-years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at three in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. What I came to realize is that fear, that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world and you kick that bastard as hard you can right in the teeth.” — Walter White

After breaking from the default track, Walter White confronted conflict. Society doesn’t like it when you break from the norm because it questions the norm.

It’s easier to believe life is a series of steps to complain about: A-B-C.

But if someone decides to do A-C-B and then succeeds, then people who lived A-B-C start to question their path and might feel a tinge of jealousy and regret that they were either too afraid or too ignorant to do A-C-B.

For the first 50 years of Walter White’s life he was a passive observer mindlessly going through the motions of what he was “supposed to do”.

It took a life threatening illness to make him snap out of it and fully embrace life as an active participant.

In the face of death, “what if” doesn’t matter. One starts to live out the “why the hell not” by jumping out of planes, seeing exotic places, reconnecting with old friends and family, but why wait to hear we’re going to die before we start to live?

For Walter White though, he didn’t just switch up the A-B-C. He took it to a whole new level… the B-A-D.

Upon learning that one of his former students was recently involved in a D.E.A. bust, Walter White looks up the student’s home address and goes there…

Jesse: I don’t know what you think you’re doing here, Mr. White. If you’re planning on giving me some bullshit about getting right with Jesus or something, turning myself in —

Walt: No. Not really.

Jesse: No speeches.

Walt: Short speech. You lost your partner today. What’s-his-name, Emilio? Emilio’s going to prison. The D.E.A. took your money, your lab. You got nothing. Square one. But you know the business, and I know the chemistry.

Jesse: You — wanna cook crystal meth?!

Walt: Either that, or I turn you in.

Walter White didn’t give Jesse a choice, but for the first time Walter White made a choice, a questionable one indeed, but a choice nonetheless: He will cook crystal meth.

Jesse wants to know why his former teacher would do such an outlandish thing…

At first Walt claims it’s about the money.

Jesse: Nah. Come on, man! Someone straight like you, giant stick up his ass all of a sudden at age, what, sixty, your just gonna break bad?

Walt stares at Jesse for a long time, considers how to answer.

Walt: I am awake.

Whether you decide to stick with the norms or break from them… you do have a choice.

There are those who complain about how life happens to them; And then there are those who believe they happen to life!

Or as Walter White would later say…

“You clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!”

He wrote his own ending. He beat his own path. He let his desire outweigh his fear.

“Find what you love and let it kill you.” — Walter White

Letting your desire overpower your fear can obviously be taken too far. Breaking Bad is an example of that. Walter White didn’t lead a happy life — everyone he loved either died or left him.

But the point here is that there is no clear roadmap or life sequence.

You, do you.

“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really, alive.” — Walter White

You can minimize risk (Warren Buffet) or you can maximize an opportunity (Michael Jordan). You can stick with norm (Ryukyuan people) or you can break from it (Steve Jobs).

But recognize that your life, your story, is ultimately in your hands.

Now imagine…

If you were given two years to live what would you do?

You have a choice. Make it.

Bonus Lesson: Build skills to increase the number of choices available to you. Walter White had the choice to become a meth cook because he was an excellent chemist. What skill can you start developing today?

Thanks for reading! Want more on Breaking Bad? You can check out my YouTube version.

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Anthony Galli

Anthony Galli

Independent Analysis to Free the Individual | www.AnthonyGalli.com

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