Iconic Films Never Go Out of Style
The Wanderers (1979) is part of the genre of “gang movies” filmed around the same time that explore gangland subculture. They are based on real New York gangs. The original book was written by Richard Price. At first, he thought that no one would be interested in his experiences growing up in the Bronx. He was inspired to write the book after reading Last Exit To Brooklyn. The film tries to explain (or at least examine) the sense of belonging that members of a gang or tribe experience.
Price was wrong to assume that people would be disinterested in Bronx life. Likewise, you should never assume that your own experiences in business won’t catch the interest of your fellow entrepreneur. Instead of turning away from the film, those who existed outside of gangland learned an important lesson about a lifestyle they’d never understood. Learning about a unique perspective can give you a better understanding of your own. Never underestimate the benefits of exposure to any experience, no matter how different it may be to your own life.
Life in the Wanderers Gang
When one of the Wanderers gang insults another gang, the Wanderers use a gang whistle to summon help after a chase ensues. The notion that help is only a whistle away is a powerful idea that helps explain why the gang appeals to some members. Gangs defend their honour and their turf. The gang takes care of its members. They provide support to survive school and life in a tough neighbourhood. It’s a level of support many of the members don’t find at home.
Membership in a peer mentoring group offers many of the same benefits. Although it’s unlikely your group will have a special whistle, you can use the group as a resource when you find yourself in trouble. Because we often can’t rely on our family members to understand our business woes, our peers can provide us with a level of assistance and understanding we don’t find at home. Just as the members of the Wanderers support and guide each other, the members of your peer mentoring group can help you navigate life as a business owner.
The various gangs in The Wanderers don’t get along. A dispute between two rival gangs ensues. The Wanderers try to enlist the help of other gangs to fight their rivals. They aren’t successful and find that the different beliefs and customs of each gang divide rivals but unite members. The dispute is eventually settled with a football game instead of a fight.
Individually, any of the members might resort to violence to resolve their dispute. Instead, they find a different, nonviolent solution. You can harness the same sort of creative problem solving from your peer mentoring group. Our initial solutions to problems are not always the most effective ones. A fight between gangs may only heighten tensions between them. Similarly, your own solutions to problems may provide only a temporary fix. The members of your group can help you analyze the effectiveness of your decisions and help you think of new solutions.
Every Story Needs a Hero
The hero, Richie, betrays his best friend and girlfriend. He’s eventually forgiven and allowed back into the gang, as he is an integral part of the football team. Peer mentoring groups give everyone the chance to play the hero. Members of the Wanderers set aside their differences with Richie for the good of the group. Look past your differences and see the value of those around you. The overarching theme of the film is one of friendship and support. The same values apply to your peer mentoring group. Companionship and guidance can go a long way to help you on your journey.
The gang’s motto is, “Wanderers Forever.” The movie was marketed with the slogan, “It’s the Wanderers vs The World – The World Didn’t Stand a Chance.” Oftentimes, it can feel as though it’s you against the world as you run your small business. It doesn’t have to be that way. Like the members of the Wanderers find support in each other, you can rely on the members of your peer mentoring group–and provide some support of you own. Belonging to a group of your peers can give you the support you need to navigate tough times and give you the opportunity to carry someone else who’s struggling.
Want to join a “gang” of fellow entrepreneurs? Find out more here