Four Movies To Renew Your Gumption

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, skmurphy

Here are four movies that I watch when I need to refill my gumption or recover my sisu.

The Verdict

Paul Newman’s portrays of an alcoholic plaintiff’s attorney chasing lawsuits by attending wakes and funerals, he re-discovers his moral core and perseveres in a complex medical malpractice lawsuit. Near the beginning of the film he is offered a settlement to look the other way and he says “If I take the money, I am lost.” It marks the turning point of his recovery.

Apollo 13

Two scenes stand out that highlight the challenges of persevering as an engineer:

  • Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly, working in the simulator to determine a cold start sequence that will get the capsule operational without exhausting the remaining battery power.
  • A team of engineers crowd around a large table that has a copy of all of the material available in the capsule. They need to find a way to adapt carbon dioxide filters from the Command Module for use on the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) where the crew has taken refuge after an accident has disabled the Command Module.  Gesturing first with a squat square filter and a longer thinner cylindrical filter, the lead engineer says, “OK people, listen up. The people upstairs have handed us this one and we gotta come through. We gotta find a way to make this fit into the hole for this, using nothing but that.”

The Dish

This is an extremely funny movie about the team manning the Parkes radio telescope in Australia,  the dish is destined to capture the video for the Apollo 11 moonwalk. Many things go wrong (see official version) and a small team learns the value of both checklists and improvisation. Best line “”Failure is never quite so frightening as regret.”

The World’s Fastest Indian

The Indian is a motorcycle driven by Bert Munro that sets a land-speed world record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. The “World’s Fastest Indian” portrays a series of challenges that Munro had to overcome to set the record, as many related to raising money and battling bureaucracy (e.g. US Customs) as engineering challenges.  The real Burt Munro was born in 1899 and 68 when he set the record, Anthony Hopkins goes a great job of portraying a tinkerer and a problem solver who continually modifies a motorcycle originally designed and manufactured in 1920 to achieve a world record.

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