7 Life Lessons Breaking Bad Taught Me

Walter White’s transformation is legendary. He changes as a person in almost every aspect, the only thing that you be sure of at the mid season break of season five is that he still loves his children. You can argue that his change was necessary, that it was an unavoidable side effect of the situations he got himself into or you can say that he was corrupted by greed. Regardless, here are seven lessons his transformation has taught me.

There are plenty of spoilers below, so don’t read if you have not yet watched Breaking Bad and would like to. 

1. Keep Your Ego In Check

Although a good chunk of problems Walter runs into can be chalked up to bad luck and career choice, most of his problems are a simple side effect of his ego. Having ambition is a good thing but when your ambition is overrun by arrogance it can start causing serious problems. In Walter’s case, these problems almost end up killing him a few times.

By all means be ambitious and set yourself high goals, but don’t let your ego cloud your judgment. Most people who are successful in your field have probably worked very hard to get there and deserve respect. Don’t get jealous and put your foot in your mouth, or it might end up coming back to hurt you.

2. Become An Irreplaceable Cog In The Machine

More than once Walter’s life was saved because he was irreplaceable. Lets just take a look at all the people who wanted to kill him but couldn’t because they needed him:

  • Tuco
  • Gus
  • Mike

Chances are your employers and colleagues are not trying to kill you (or maybe they are..), but you will be a lot better off if they can’t do away with you. Be the best at what you do or at the very least bring something unique to the table that they need. This way when your company is looking to downsize or the industry is changing, you know you will be safe.

3. Never Make The Same Mistake twice

When eating dinner at Gus’s house Gus tells Walt that if he had to give him one piece of advice, it would be that he should never repeat the same mistake twice. In the meth business I am sure that repeating your mistakes could be fatal, but repeating your mistakes in real life can also be very dangerous. There is no reason why you should be making the same mistakes over and over again. Actively learn from your mistakes and make better choices when similar situations show up again in both your professional and your social life. This can save you a lot of headache and help you learn and grow at a much faster rate.

4. Always Be Prepared

One minute before the twins come to kill Hank, Hank gets a phone call warning him. Hank has no gun or any real weapon to defend himself with, but because he had that small minute to prepare mentally and be on the lookout, he survived. Sure, he was wounded pretty badly and shot three times but if didn’t have that one small minute to prepare, we would be short one more character on Breaking Bad.

Be prepared for worst case scenarios and have a contingency plan. This will help you get back on your feet as soon as possible by minimizing damage. Hank has shown that even a little bit of preparation can make all the difference.

5. If You Want Something Done, Do It Yourself

Outsourcing is great but sometimes you need to do things yourself. More than once Walter did what he needed to do on his own without involving others, because that was how he could assure that things would go the way he wanted them to. If it doesn’t matter to someone else as much as it matters to you, then you need to do it yourself, even if you feel that it is below you.

6. Knowledge Is King

In the very intense finale of season 4, Walter was able to beat Gus because of one reason and one reason only. He knew a very important, key piece of information that Gus didn’t know he knew. Walt knew that Hector and Gus where mortal enemies. You will be surprised how little things you know can help you out in the most random of situations. Be a knowledge sponge and who knows, it may end up saving your life one day as well.

7. Embrace Change

If Walter was unable to accept that he was dying and he needed to make a change to the way he was living, we probably wouldn’t have a drug kingpin, we would have a chem teacher struggling very hard to make ends meet. It would be a completely different show. We all need to make changes in our lives once in a while and if you are too afraid to take that plunge, it can end up hurting you. The only thing that is constant is change.

8.Bonus: Looks Can Be Deceiving

Walter doesn’t get caught not because he doesn’t make stupid mistakes (we all know he does) but because no one is even expecting him to be a drug dealer. People aren’t looking in his direction when they are searching for Heisenberg. Understand that not everything is the way it seems. In any profession, how you are perceived can be just as important as what you know or who you know. This is the same reason why Gus didn’t get caught until he was dead.

What life lessons did you learn from Breaking Bad?

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8 Responses to “7 Life Lessons Breaking Bad Taught Me”

  • Montreal says:

    You forget to add (Never sell Dope) lol

  • Mark Trueman says:

    Hahaha what was I thinking?

  • Mark,

    As I mentioned on chime.in, I found the article both unusual and thought provoking. It’s good to see people actually thinking about what they watch.

    Aside – I don’t think “never sell dope” plays into the movies equation, at least not in your vision. I know Montreal was joking. But, the whole crux of the story is what necessity and desperation can lead brilliant individuals to do (among other themes). So, for me the drugs are a side note.

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Thanks Darin,

      I agree. Breaking Bad really isn’t saying as much about meth as it is saying about the duality of mankind and how people can be pushed to do horrible things when the situation is right.

      • Sean says:

        Yet they wouldn’t even be in those situations had they not started making meth in a lab in the first place. There would be no need to do anything like that, had he kept his life in order.

        It makes a good thriller, but the reasoning is stupid.
        >guy gets cancer
        >guy gets bored with life
        >guy lives on the edge producing massive amounts of meth
        Here’s my life lesson, don’t let teachers teach kids how to do this kind of shit.

  • Zac Johnson says:

    I love breaking bad and the analogies you made between the two. Nothing better than reading up on business tips while relating it to a show many of us love so much.

    “Looks Can Be Deceiving” is a great one for the way business is run online. You never know who or what is on the other side of the web site or email!

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Hey Zac,

      Always happy to meet another Breaking Bad Fan 🙂

      Agreed. I think “Looks can be deceiving” especially applies to the online world.

      – Mark T.

      • Elemar says:

        Walt and Jess didn’t plan for everything. They didn’t atticipane a good samaritan coming along and theydidn’t atticipane a kid on a dirt bike, and most they definitely didn’t atticipane their new associate’s temperment. Walt’s whistling shows how dead he is inside and how consumed he is with building his empire. I think the real reason Walt sold his share is because his girlfriend may have cheated on him with one of the other partners and he just wanted to leave. This former girlfriend is the same woman who earlier in the series visited Walt and offerred to pay for his treatment. Walt went to his former partner’s birthday party and she was his wife.


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