7 Lessons From "McFarland, USA"

In school, we are taught 1+1=2, there are 50 states, and the differences between to, two, and too. But what we are taught doesn’t necessarily have to be “academic” like math, science, and social studies, and it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be taught in a classroom. Since day one, we are always learning: from our parents and the people around us, our surroundings, the past and our experiences. We have many teachers and that includes television. When molding ourselves, we decide on what we want our character to be, how we conduct ourselves, and how we want to live our lives. We take our lessons and learn from them. And we can learn from the inspiring story of a cross country team and their journey to prove that "champions can come from anywhere" in “McFarland, USA.” Based off a true story, Kevin Costner leads the cast as they embody a touching and moving story that resonates inspirational life lessons. Here are a few from the movie.

1. Don’t judge the inside by the outside.

When judging without knowledge, it can be misleading, especially when it comes to people. What you may assume based off of appearance and rumors could be the very reason you miss out on getting to know an amazing person. Coach Jim White learned this very lesson when it came to Victor’s cousin, Javi. The other runners learned the same lesson when it came to the McFarland team.

2. Don’t take everything at face value.

Places and possessions may seem too simple or too plain, but that does not mean it is not great or that you won’t (can’t) love it. Like in the movie, a community might live in a shabby area but at the heart of it, the people are wonderful and can be considered as an extended family. In the beginning, the White family wanted to leave, but in the end, the White family wanted to stay. Give the place or object a chance.

3. Give things a shot.

Don’t be too quick to say no. You might surprise yourself and enjoy it or possibly appreciate something more than you already enjoyed. Don't overlook something that could make you really happy. So be optimistic; the outcome could be worth it.

4. Teamwork is a foundation of support.

Not everything has to be done alone. A team is a team; encouragement and support go hand in hand and one shouldn’t exist without the other. Maintain a balance of being a leader and a cheerleader. If each teammate can do this, the team will be filled of heart.

5. Not everything has to happen right at this moment.

Be patient. Don’t rush it because it will happen in due time. If you go too fast, you might tire yourself out like Jose did. Take your time and plan with a constant pace. If you need a burst of energy, you'll know it.

6. Believe in yourself.

Your abilities will help you, but the belief that you can do it is your number one strength. Who cares if others doubt you? Break the circle of negativity, and embrace confidence. Having courage to do it is the first step. The only person that can truly stop you is yourself.

7. When the going gets rough, keep going.

An accomplishment feels that much more important when you know you did your best. Don’t give up and don’t quit; perseverance is key. Knowing that you did it outweighs all of the obstacles and struggles that were thrown your way.

"McFarland, USA" (PG) was released February 20 and is now out on DVD.

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