The great TV series "Breaking Bad" came to a end last Sunday night after a mesmerizing five year run that attracted fans from around the world. In case you were not a fan, here is the gist of the show.
Main character Walter White is a brilliant but financially-strapped high school Chemistry teacher who finds out that he has cancer. It's terminal. In desperation, he "breaks bad" and starts to cook meth to make money to support his family.
I won't spoil it for those of you who are planning to watch the show now that it's over. Suffice to say, he makes millions of dollars in this evil trade, but it all ends badly for him, his loved ones, and most of the people around him.
Why was this show such a hit? Walter White was no hero, certainly not in a conventional sense such as Jack Bauer of TV's long-running series "24."
Playing armchair psychologist, I think it was a hit for a mixture of contemporary reasons. One, it played right into one of our deepest concerns today: How will I provide for my family? So many Americans lose sleep nights worrying about this one. People are unemployed or underemployed and the fear of losing everything is very real.
Do desperate times call for desperate methods? Walter White thought so.
Another reason goes to something Walter White says to his classroom of students in the pilot episode: "Chemistry is, well technically, chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change. Chemistry is about growth, then decay, then transformation!"
Transformation is exactly what happens in Breaking Bad as Walter White changes from the mild weakling we meet in the pilot episode, to the mysterious Heisenberg, lord of the meth drug trade who manipulates and threatens anyone who gets in his way, even killing some when he had to.
His frightening evolution is as fascinating as a volatile chemical reaction in a science experiment on Myth Busters.
Finally, another reason we were so entranced by this show is the old saying "The truth will out." Meaning, The truth will become known eventually. It's just a matter of time.
Episode by episode, we wondered how many lies Walter White would have to invent to keep the truth from coming out. In the end, it all unraveled. The final truth that emerges, in the last episode, is especially devastating, when Walter tells his wife that he did everything, not for his family, but for himself.
Can we derive any lessons from this TV show that apply to the job search? A lesson comes to mind.
The Bard William Shakespeare once said "To thine own self be true." What comes next in this famous quote from Hamlet: "and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
The truth, as well as transformation, is a powerful thing.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday October 4, 2013.
Terrence H. Seamon is an organization development consultant who provides leadership and team development services to employers in New Jersey. His book Lead the Way explores the challenges of leadership. Additionally, Terry is a job search and career coach whose book To Your Success provides a motivational guide for anyone in transition. His third book, Change for the Better (forthcoming), will provide leaders with a guide to navigating through organizational change. An alumnus of PSG, Terry co-founded and co-moderates the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via his website: http://about.me/terrenceseamon